Oh, this story... it's one of my brother's classic moves. Everyone should have a fun uncle.
I blew Santa's cover last year, and it was a glorious ending to the gig of his great fame at our house. I've never looked back. With no reservations, I handed some wrapping paper and scotch tape to my children this year. Real life, kids. Get wrapping.
It's not like I demanded they wrap their own presents as I barked at them with curlers hanging out of my hair and a cigar hanging out of my mouth. But I've let them in on the joy of giving, and some of it is hidden in the details of crisp corners on packages and fluffy wire-rimmed bows.
In this glorious after place, I've let them in on the secrets I kept from them along the way. Check out this lovely nugget from Christmas circa 2008.
My cell phone rang.
"Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas! And to whom am I speaking?"
"Well, hello, Santa! This is Tucker and Tyler's house!"
(That's not actually my brother.)
And just like that, the boys came running at the sound of Santa's merry voice on speaker through my cell phone, which was remarkably similar to the voice of Uncle Rob. (Wink, wink.)
The boys fell over one another, trying to get to the phone to say hello
"Hi, Santa! Hello! Thank you for our jammies!"
"Oh, you got the jammies I sent? Well, I'm glad to hear that. Ho! Ho! Ho!"
"Are you flying through the sky, Santa?"
"Yes! Yes, I am!" (My brother does an uncanny impersonation.)
"We left oats in the driveway for your reindeer!"
"Oh! You did! I see! Well, Blitzen, and Vixen, and um, Dancer and all the others will love that."
"And will you come down our chimney with a bound?"
"Why, yes. Yes, I will come down your chimney."
I offered my translation. "Santa, they're asking about the poem, T'was the Night Before Christmas. Down the chimney he came - with a bound?"
"Oh! Oh, yes! I will come down the chimney, with a bound, just like the poem."
And now listen to what this brother of mine did to me.
"Tucker and Tyler, remember that part about the bowlful of jelly?"
"Well - Ho! Ho! Ho! - That has been a misprint for hundreds of years! It says that my belly shakes when I laugh like a bowlful of jelly, but really, I love to eat a bowlful of jelly! And my very favorite houses are the ones who leave me a bowlful of jelly!"
The boys looked at me, their eyes round with surprise. Who knew Santa loves grape jelly?
And in the background at our house, my husband yelled to his brother-in-law, "I'll give you some jelly, Santa."
"Yes! Jelly! Don't forget! Well, I must go to deliver all the gifts to the children, but make sure to go to sleep so I can come to your house too!"
"Okay, Santa! Thank you, Santa! Merry Christmas, Santa! We love you, Santa!"
"Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night! And don't forget about that bowlful of jelly! Ho! Ho! Ho!"
And with that, my brother single-handedly rewrote my children's version of 'Twas The Night Before Christmas, and he personally instated a tradition to continue for the foreseeable future.
When we hung up the phone, I received a text moments later, from 'Santa' himself:
I expect your family to leave a bowful of jelly for Santa every year.
Consider it done.
And that's why we don't leave cookies for Santa. He prefers Welch's.
Merry Christmas, Santa, as you do your magic around the world.
And Merry Christmas, Uncle Rob, as you continue to win the hearts of these young men, now that they know for sure that you were a voice of the magic all along.