Tooth Fairy

I lost my first tooth the summer before I started kindergarten, while spending two weeks with my cousins. The moment every child eagerly awaits arrived as I bit into the first ear of corn I ever rolled in a stick of butter, as taught by my uncouth cousins. As my teeth grazed along the cob I felt the grinding tear that initiates the first wiggle. 

There should be a name for the dance that is universal among children upon making the thrilling discovery that you have just been added to the list of pending visits by the tooth fairy. I imagined a huge pearly mound of teeth to be used for the little bracelets given newborns as a welcome to this world. I felt pride that one of my very own teeth would soon grace a tiny baby’s wrist. I could imagine the tooth fairy’s golden waves of hair shimmering in the breeze, as she was delighted by the discovery of the especially lovely pearl that was my tooth.

During my visit, I became obsessed with that tooth. I accompanied my elder cousin Roger on his paper route, chasing down the ice cream truck and feeling the jolt as the blue Popsicle I savored made contact with a nerve. As we played in one of the numerous forts around the property, I pinched my tongue on the rough edge of tooth at gum level. I wiggled and prodded that tooth as I watched in horror the tiny “robots” attacking the old lady on the Twilight Zone, tasting the first salty sour gush of blood. I was sure that it was the tooth fairy responsible for making it pour rain on our side of the street even as the sun shined in the front yard on the other side. When we went to the penny candy store, my aunt suggested that rather than something hard or chewy, I get the wax “bottles” filled with sweet liquid goo. I shadowed my cousins in their mischievous shenanigans as we trespassed in Mr. Spinney’s cornfield only to be chased away in the manner of Peter Rabbit by Mr. MacGreggor, my tooth swinging by that last thread of flesh, refusing to let go. My uncle suggested tying tooth to string to doorknob and slamming the door in order to yank the thing out once and for all.

As I lay awake in the middle of the night, flinging it around inside my mouth with my tongue, the tooth let go. I placed it under my pillow certain that the tooth fairy would at last make an appearance. Hardly able to sleep the rest of the night, my tongue incessantly poked around in the slimy, metallic-tasting hole that remained. 

To my great dismay, when I checked under the pillow the next morning, there lay the tooth, and I was none the richer. Upon entering the kitchen close to tears, I was greeted with the news that my mother had been in a car accident and I would be leaving that morning as soon as we could get ready. I cried. Not for my mother. Not for the fact that I had to go home early. I cried because the tooth fairy had not seen fit to collect my tooth and leave the long anticipated coin. 

A short while later, as we were preparing to leave, my aunt came rushing down the stairs to show me the quarter that she had found on the floor while making the bed. It took a fair number of years to figure out why that was the only time I ever got a quarter instead of a dime! – RDW (11-2-07)

The Santa Dilemma

One of the many quandaries a parent is faced with, is whether or not to bring Santa Claus into the holiday tradition. There are many reasons for not wanting to do so:
  • Most people view Santa as exclusive to the Christian religion.
  • It is believed that Santa Claus has nothing to do with the true meaning of Christmas, or that he is incompatible with the Christian values they hold.
  • Santa is the embodiment of the commercialism and materialistic values so prevalent in our society.
  • It is perceived as the Biggest Lie ever told children by their parents (right up there with the assurance that going to the dentist is “fun”)
Having grown up with Santa, I will always treasure the sense of magic and wonder bestowed upon me as a child. There is nothing that compares with childhood recollections of the Santa experience. 
Discovering the truth when the time comes, can be painful. Yet those who want to perpetuate the notion of the bearded man in red for as long as possible, are willing to go to certain lengths in order to maintain the deception.
My children were raised with a very strong Santa presence.
We told the kids that they could ask Santa for one thing (“a purple koosh ball”, “a nutcracker”, “cow bell”, “just a candy cane- I have lots of toys already…”).
They would write letters to leave with cookies and milk (and carrots!) on the mantle, and come down in the morning to find crumbs and carrot top on the letter Santa had left for them. Of course, the handwriting was disguised.
We were involved in a Project Christmas of sorts, and as the wrapping was being done by several people at our home one year, the preschoolers were enlisted as “Santa’s elves”.
Several years later, we saw Santa on the street right after he had run out of candy canes; my youngest and I decided to be “elves” and replenish his supply. The eldest, on the verge of disbelief, was shocked when Santa told the boys that he remembered the time when their big brother was one of his elves.
 When I was a little girl, my older brother and sister wanted me to remain oblivious to the facts for another year, and together schemed to awaken me to the sounds of reindeer hooves and sleigh bells. To this day I am able to vividly recall that magical moment. Hence the perpetuation of my deceitful actions.
 When asked by my children, I told them that I believed in Santa, for one of the perks of having kids is seeing the world once again through the eyes of a child, and the magic had indeed returned. I recounted the time I was a little girl and woke up in the middle of the night because I heard Santa on the roof!
A year or two later, I confessed I wasn’t really sure about the actual Santa Claus, but that I think Santa Claus is that feeling we have when we come down the stairs to lit tree and stockings on Christmas morning and are so excited to give each other the gifts we have for them.
As children become older, eventually the need to know the truth becomes stronger than the desire to believe, and we are faced with the ultimate “yes” or “no” question: “Are you Santa Claus?” “No, I’m your mother.” “Do you fill our stockings and write from Santa on the presents?” “Well…”
My son was rather devastated by the truth, yet insisted on letting the others maintain their delusion, and became an active participant in making that happen. The others never asked. We learned later that they had discovered the packaging to their gifts in the attic.
As for myself, I was in third grade when I recognized my mother’s handwriting. I don’t remember feeling particularly lied to, but I was disappointed; and Christmas lost that magical glow. Was it worth it? Absolutely.- RDW (12-9-10)