Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rite of Passage

In high school I was enrolled in the “academic” track of classes. This meant that the students in these classes were slightly accelerated to give us a boost going into college or if you were like a couple of us you thought that maybe you would get to slack off a little bit your senior year. At Smethport Area Junior Senior High School a rite of passage occurred in your junior year.  This was English with Coach Carl Defilippi aka Del. I was in his English 11A class. One of Del’s famous assignments was writing about an event that changed our lives. Here is my paper…unedited (mostly).  

Dreams Destroyed by Kathi Seymour, English 11A

“My whole outlook on life changed in just five minutes. My world as I knew it came crumbling down and my innocence ended. I was mortified that such a thing could be true. But it was. I could have died the day…the day I found out Santa Claus wasn’t real. From that day on, that whole year was a disaster.

From the time I can remember I was taught that Santa Claus was a jolly old man who liked the color red. He had a laugh that started from somewhere deep inside. When you heard his “HO HO HO”, you couldn’t help but join right in. I was always faithful to Kris Kringle. Every Christmas season I would beg my mom to bundle up my brother and me and take us to the mall. I just had to sit on Santa Claus’s lap. I was so glad to do it but my brother who was still young and at the impressionable age let out blood curdling howls that would freak-out the other “little kids. Me, I just sat back and told Santa everything I wanted. Then before I would leave I would give Santa a little kiss on the cheek and he would look into his stocking that was hanging on the side of his chair. Then to my delight he would pull out a sucker. I would be content the whole way home.

Then one awful Christmas Eve I went to bed after giving my mother a letter and asking her to put out cookies and milk. For the past two months I took great care to be a good kid even though the whole summer I was a royal terror. Mom had told me that Santa doesn’t cater to little girls who are bad. So I promptly turned my reign of terror into a sweet little kid that would do practically everything her parents asked.

After thinking how good I had been I climbed into bed. It didn’t take me very long to fall asleep. Then I was rudely awakened from my dreams of candy and presents by a loud thud that came from my parent’s room. I sleepily crawled out of bed and softly padded across my room. I got down on my hands and knees and looked underneath my door. My parents were carrying a big box. Then they started to go down the stairs, I hopped up and opened my door. I silently crept to the banister and look over the railing.

What I saw changed my life forever. Inside that box were presents. I felt like the weight of the world landed on my shoulders. Tears came to my eyes. My little pug nose started to run. I let out a small sob. I ran back to my room and shut my door. I curled myself up into a little ball. I cried myself to sleep. The next morning when we got up to open our presents I was still depressed. I could hardly open them. I looked at my parents with disgust. My whole life I had looked up to them. Now they had let me down. They had lied to me. I felt betrayed and I wasn’t going to be alone. The next day I told my best friend Diane that Santa wasn’t real. She had a fit and started to bawl. She wouldn’t believe me. When she got home she found out I was right. She was mad for a week.

The world seemed cold and heartless. All those wasted letters. Those prayers to God to let Santa bring me what I asked were all in vain. There was no such thing as little elves that had bells on their shoes. There was no Santa’s work shop. No hammers steadily pounding toys together. Rudolph may have had a red nose but that didn’t really matter since there were no reindeer.

From that Christmas on I was forced to face the cruel fact that fairy tales weren’t true. There were no cupids to shoot their arrows and make everybody fall in love. Leprechauns couldn’t be chased down and be made to tell where they had hidden their gold. The Easter Bunny didn’t hide those beautiful colored eggs. No Great Pumpkin would appear at Halloween. Even the marvelous Superman and Wonder Woman weren’t real.

Somehow I managed not to tell my parents that I knew that Santa was a myth. Gradually my anger wore off. I thought maybe my mom and dad wanted me to believe in him so I had something to aim for. Old Saint Nick brought joy and hope into people’s lives. The spirit of Christmas also manages to make people kind and caring. But when the next Christmas rolled around and my brother begged to go see Santa Claus I got mad. Here was my little brother heading for disaster and disappointment. Someone had to tell him. I, of course, nominated myself. So that night after we got back I visited my brother in his room. I made him sit on the bed while I paced the floor. Suddenly I felt all grown up and important. My innocent little brother had dreams and great expectations. I looked into my brother’s big brown eyes. I couldn’t tell him. Something just stopped me. Here was this little kid who was just as devoted to a man with a white beard as I once used to be. I told him I forgot what I was going to say then walked out. I wasn’t going to ruin his life but someone else could.

I got mad at my parents for doing this to me. I never wanted to grow up and face cold hard reality. Now I had to throw out all my fantasies of a magical world that was located at the end of a rainbow.

I have barely lived through this experience. Sometimes I feel that it might have been good. The fact that there is no Santa Claus makes people try to be kinder. I myself try to spread the joy and happiness that I know Kris Kringle would. Sometimes I try to wish real hard to bring Santa Claus to life for all the children whose hearts belong to him. For this reason alone I know Santa would be proud. Love you Santa. No matter what anyone says.”

Um, dramatic much? Well, it worked. I got an “A” and Del read my paper to the whole class. He said, and I quote, “Your essay is most enjoyable; you project a theme in a most refreshing manner here. Good job.” Later on it was modified slightly and was published in the town paper at Christmas time under the heading “Believing in the Spirit that is Santa Claus.”

Still one of my favorite memories of high school right behind Mr. Porter’s “Your darn tooting, we hate Rasputin.”

Christmas writes happy and sparkly.

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