Squawk Radio

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

On the NINTH Day of Christmas, the Squawkers Give to You... KATHY CASKIE!


I was nine, I almost died on Christmas Eve.

My dad had recently returned from traveling and gifted me with a very primitive but pretty handmade necklace, with various dried nuts strung between colorful stone beads. Just the sort of exotic thing a little girl loves.

While I was plotting how to get a peek at the present my sister was wrapping in the next room, I absently bit into one of the nuts on the necklace. Must have cracked the shell. The next thing I knew, my eyes had swelled to slits and my throat was closing. I couldn't breathe. I ended up being rushed to the ER.

But that wasn't my worst Noel. Actually, since I didn't die, I guess it ranks up there as being one of the best.

Nope. My worst noel was when I was six and walked in on Santa, mid stocking-stuffing. My magical world came crashing down around me.

My parents weren't big fans of two kids rushing into their room on what was technically Christmas morning, but most people would call "the middle of the night." So they had come up with a plan that actually worked pretty well for a couple of years.

On Christmas Eve, we'd all pile in the station wagon and go out to look at Christmas lights. But before we could do that, Dad always needed to run up to the store to pick up some film. All the kids had to go with him. While we were gone, my mom would race around the house, pile presents under the tree, take a couple of chomps out of the cookies left for Santa, fill the stockings, then turn with a jerk and race outside as the car pulled into the drive.

But on this particular Christmas, she wasn't fast enough, or rather I wasn't patient enough to sit in the car once we were in the drive. Instead I told my dad that I would run in and get Mommy. Before he could stop me, I was through the front door--experiencing the shock of my young life.

I didn't say a word to Santa..er...Mommy. I just turned around and went back to the car...and immediately told my younger sister what I had seen. Then when school was in session, I got up for show and tell--and TOLD what I knew. If they didn't believe me, when they grew up and had kids of their own they would look pretty stupid when Santa never comes to fill their stockings.

Half the class was in tears, the other half was pleading with the teacher to assure them that it wasn't true. There was a Santa. There was! But I knew better. So I added that there probably wasn't a toothfairy either.

So, do tell, how did you learn there was no Santa? (I'm hoping none of you were in my class!) Here's what a few of the Squawkers said:

CONNIE: Stupid schoolyard Goth-girl in the making. You know, the girl who looked like she smoked cigarettes in kindergarten? All sneers and worldly 'tude. She told a group of us wide-eyed Bambi types.Then, always needing to test every theory, I asked my older brother. His furtive "Mom's gonna kill me if she thinks I ratted her out" look told me everything I needed to know. I was sixteen.

(KATHY: Oh, geez! Was that me? )

TERESA: I honestly can't remember how I found out there was no Santa Claus, but I immediately adjusted reality to MY expectations and decided that Santa Claus was an invisible spirit who visited each of our homes on Christmas Eve to spread joy and goodwill and that he really DID live at the North Pole but his house was also invisible and obviously undetectable by government radar.

(KATHY: Oh, yeah. Biiiig Bambi.)

LISA: My parents still haven't admitted it to me--LOL! I heard the rumors from my friends in fourth grade, went home and asked, and my mother and father said no one could prove there wasn't a Santa, and if I wanted to believe in him, lots of people still did. What tipped me off was the fact that Santa used the same kind of wrapping paper my parents had.

(KATHY: My eldest was also tipped off by the wrapping paper. Slight variation though. In true CSI fashion, she presented me with a scrap of authentic Santa wrapping-a piece she had saved-with 'From Santa' written in gold ink--and then a piece of Santa paper she had found in a box in the basement--along with a sample of my own handwriting. Busted! Note to parents of believers: use special Santa wrapping paper, but be sure to dispose of it in a shopping center dumpster after the Santa deed is done. No evidence, no crime, I say.)

CHRISTINA: I was probably seven, and I heard from the neighborhood kids. But my college-age kids still believe, possibly because I explained that children who believe continue to get presents from Santa.

(KATHY: I have a little sign I put up every year. Works wonders. "If you believe, you receive." Keeps my kids playing the Santa game...for Mom. Which is great, because they can't complain to me if they don't one of their presents. I didn't buy it. Santa brought it!)

ELOISA: A cruel question. I can't remember, honestly. I can tell you that my son found out when he lost a gorgeous little metal crusader knight that Santa Claus had brought him. It fell out of his pocket on the way to church on Christmas morning. We walked all the way back, and he cried bitterly over it.Then later when another crusader knight turned up somehow...and he put two and two together. But he is delightfully good at keeping the truth from his little sister, who is still a true believer at age 7.
(KATHY: Ahhh. A little hero in the making.)

Let's hear it. What was your Worst Noel? Who outed Santa?

Kathryn (who now admits she avidly collects and crafts chalkware Santas from antique chocolate moulds...it's the least she can do)

[Kathryn Caskie has long been a devotee of history and things of old. So it came as no surprise to her family when she took a career detour off the online super highway and began writing historical romances full time. Her first book came out in 2004, and yet she's already built a following for her utterly original, hilarious novels of Regency England (not to mention winning a few prizes along the way). Check out her books at http://www.kathryncaskie.com.]
Eloisa James, 7:28 AM