Christmas Eve, 2004. My extended family (on me mother’s side) has gathered at a cousin’s house to eat, exchange gifts, and generally celebrate.
There is a new upcoming generation of kids in my family now, with the oldest on the high end of nine years old, and the youngest few still in diapers. Somebody had convinced my brother Sam — the family ham (besides myself) and the rosiest dimpli-est cheeks in the family — to dress up as Santa Claus and make an appearance. As the evening progresses, he quietly slips out of the room — there are enough people and goings on and general revelry that none of the young ones notice the disappearance. About ten minutes later the doorbell rings, and some of the kids run over to the front door. Looking out the side window next to the door, the 6 year old declares “It’s Santa!!! while her eight year old cousin opens the door.
“HO HO HO! Maaaaaaaa-rry CHRISTMAS!” proclaims St. Nick as he strolls in. “Hey guys! How you doing? Have you all been GOOD this year?”
By now they’re all excited and running around. The littlest ones are milling around Santa while the older ones run back into the living room to announce his arrival. “Santa’s Here! He’s HERE!!!”
As the Man in the Red Suit strolls into the living room, my aunt, standing just inside the room, declares loudly “It’s Uncle Sam!” …and then, quickly, “Ehhh… Sam…ta Claus….”
The youngest were far too in awe to have noticed, but the three oldest kids were standing right next to her, coming into the room with Santa. I’m not sure which, if any of them, fully caught it or not, but she got significant look from one of them. At the least, the oldest knew that something just happened, but possibly he didn’t quite catch what she’d said. The oldest two were old enough to not be so sure about this whole “Santa” thing, but they’re still… not… quite… sure.
So in the end… not quite the mass-bubble-bursting that it could have been, but certainly the forehead-slapping moment of the season.