“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a zillion times… Stop peein’ on the tree, Angus!”
I heard Mama scolding the dog… again. Poor Angus. I mean, it is confusing. That thing isn’t supposed to be inside. And it’s such a pretty restroom. Awfully convenient.
But if Angus was in trouble, that meant I had a better chance of getting away with my little infraction.
I mean, really, in the whole scheme of things, this was just one little eensie-weensie, tiny-teeny, itty-bitty slip-up. Yes, my little brother was in his room, crying his eyeballs out, cursing the day he was born. But at some point the kid was going to have to learn the truth. Might as well get it over with… and all the better he heard it from me.
Earlier that day…
“Woah! Cool! Leonardo!” Sammy exclaimed, picking up the nearest package. A thoughtful look crossed his face as he flipped it in his hands. “I just asked Santa for this last week. Do you think I need to write him back and tell him I found one?”
Oh, poo… What’s a girl to do?
“Uh…” I’ve never been a very good liar. Mama always says I’m about as honest as they come, and sometimes that’s a bad thing. Well, this time was no different. “There’s no need to write Santa, because you live with him… her…”
“What? Santa’s not a her.”
“No, I mean Mama.” Sammy’s features drowned in absolute confusion. “Mama bought these gifts for you. Hid them here. And on Christmas morning, she’ll give them to you.”
“Well, then I need to let Santa know Mama got them and he doesn’t have to.”
“No, Sam, you don’t understand.” Duh, Sherlock! “Mama is Santa. Mama buys the gifts and wraps them and slaps Santa’s name on there so you’ll think some fat dude from the completely frozen… and barren, might I add… North Pole actually flew all the way down here to the godforsaken boondocks and delivered precisely what you asked for because you’ve be oh-so-good this year… which is a joke by itself.”
Okay, so maybe sometimes I take the honesty thing slightly too far.
“You’re not funny, Sara. Not funny at all.”
“I’m not trying to be funny. I’m serious. There. Is. No. Santa. It’s just a story.”
Sammy contemplated Leonardo for another minute or so. I used the break to wrap my fuzzy snowflake blanket around my shoulders and prop the sole of one socked foot against the wall.
“Wait… Are you serious? Santa Claus isn’t real?”
Oh, boogers, I could already see that telltale sheen creeping over his hazel eyes. Time to be a bit more sympathetic.
“Yes, Sammy. I’m sorry to break it to ya, but the big guy is just a fairy tale. A nice little holiday fib to keep the kids on their toes and help parents justify spending beyond their means every year just to keep his reputation intact.”
Here comes the lip quivers.
“Mama lied to me?”
Oh, didn’t quite see it that way.
“No… Sam… She just wanted Christmas to be enchanting for you. It’s fun… to believe in Santa. Makes you think there’s really magic.”
His pensive gaze shot my way. “There’s no magic, either…? That’s what you’re saying?”
I couldn’t hold back the snort, but I did feel bad about it afterward.
“No, there’s no magic. No Santa. I think we’d better stop there for now.”
Sammy dropped Leonardo back in the open box and slowly pivoted on one heel to head toward his room.
“Sam,” I called after him. “Please don’t be upset. Christmas is still fun… Right?”
He only grunted before dashing into his room, slamming the door. I heard the lock click just before a massive-snot sniffle resonated down the hall.
“Sara!” Goose bumps raced over ever millimeter of my skin when I heard Mama hollering for me.
“Take this stinkin’ dog outside, now, before I permanently pin him to this tree!”
I shuffled off my bed and slipped on my sheepskin-lined boots, tying the blanket around my neck like I was the Pajama Paladin. I rushed to scoop up the mutt and zipped out the door, avoiding eye contact with her.
One wrong move, one suspicious eye twitch, and her spidey senses would be on high alert. Couple that with my tell-no-lies policy and I’d be dead gal walkin’.
Regrettably, by the time Angus and I scooted back in from the cold, Mama had checked on Sammy and discovered my transgression. I didn’t even have to see her standing there with her hands on her hips, face as red as, well, Santa’s sleigh, because it became instantly apparent all the air had been sucked clean out of that room.
“Sara Lisbeth Arden!!”
Oh, dog farts…
“Awesome! LEGO Harry Potter!” Sammy practically drooled over his gift.
“I got this for you, Sara.” He tossed over a small, lightweight box with a cute purple bow.
I lifted the top to find a $35 iTunes card to go with my new MP4 player.
“Aww, thanks, Sam.”
“He saved his allowance all month to get that for you,” Mama said, one eyebrow raised, reminding me to feel guilty.
“Christmas is still fun. Maybe even better.”