The last time I sat on Santa’s lap, I was a freshman in college. The fellow I was dating and I thought it’d be fun to get our photo taken with Santa (so somewhere, this pic exists — I have absolutely no idea where it is).
It was the first time I’d visited Santa in years — probably since sixth grade or junior high. (Yes, I still visited Santa in my preteen years, and maybe even as a young teenager; in case you couldn’t tell from this blog, I have something of a youthful spirit [which is it the nice way of saying “I’m probably kind of immature”].)
That year, as an 18-year-old student, I asked Santa for the very same thing I always asked Santa for.
My brother was born when I was 6 years old. I don’t really have any memories of what I asked for when I was much younger than that, or even when I was 7 and 8, before Joey was diagnosed with autism. I imagine I asked for Barbies and stuffed animals and Barbie houses and Barbie cars and books and holiday Barbies (I liked [ahem like] Barbies).
The only thing I can really remember asking Santa for, however, is that Joey would get better. I remember being embarrassed that that was what I asked for. I don’t remember why I was embarrassed, but I felt like no one else should hear my Christmas wish, that maybe, like a birthday wish, if other people knew it, it wouldn’t come true.
I remember climbing onto Santa’s lap, shyly. (I was always shy around Santa, because when I was little, I was monstrously afraid of Santa. Deathly. Insanely. Proof:
Santa always visited my aunt and uncle’s on Christmas eve. My family never forgot that the above happened. So the first time I bravely climbed on Santa’s lap without hyperventilating/sobbing, they applauded me. I was probably in second grade.)
Anyway, so I’d shyly climb on Santa’s lap. He’d ask me what I wanted for Christmas. I’d pull him close and whisper in his ear, “I want my brother to be better.”
I never elaborated, never asked for anything more or less than that. I knew enough to know this impostor whose lap upon which I sat wasn’t the real Santa, but I also knew he would going to tell the real Santa what I asked for. I didn’t want to get too greedy in case he only brought me one thing, and I didn’t want him to bring me the wrong thing.
I don’t remember ever expecting to wake up on Christmas morning and have Joey miraculous say, “Merry Christmas, Jaclyn.” I didn’t expect to have a prettily wrapped box that I opened to find empty, except for that whoosh of Christmas magic that flew up Joey’s nose and gave the appropriate medicine to his brain.
In fact, I don’t know that I ever thought my Christmas wish would come true. I never actually thought Santa could fix Joey.
But I always liked to ask for it, anyways. Just in case.