Monday, December 1, 2008

Do You Believe in Santa?

Someone asked me when did I find out that Santa does not really exist. It is a very common question, I bet it is more polite than asking directly when did you get your puberty. But being asked that question, I suddenly realised that I lost my childhood's dream quite early in my life.

I think I was 6. In my home country, Santa was obviously more polite, more civilised and more religious person. He wouldn't break in to someone's house or climb the chimney (because there's no chimney) or even wander around the Christmas street market. He would sit quietly in the church and give children presents after Sunday Christmas service. I was in queue with half a dozen other children, all with their parents (except me, I can't remember where they were). I had never seen Santa before, I saw him only in Christmas cards, so this was my first time to see him in person. My mother had told me a few week ago about being nice or I wouldn't get any gifts from Santa. No wonder I was quite nervous whether Santa knew about me skipping class on the other day or not.

And there they were. Santa, big and fluffy, with long white beard and bright red costume that seemed a bit too hot to wear inside a crowded church. I guess he was sweating a lot. Black Petes, there were two of them, handling Santa's crook and dealing presents to children. They painted their faces, hands and ears black and also dressed up in black shirt and wore black stocking (so they were men in black). They were quite scary for me. So I moved quickly close to Santa, who welcomed me with his open hands and put me in his lap.

"So, what's your name my sweet little girl?" he asked.
"Ria," (I answered in a very low voice, partly from being afraid of Black Petes and the rest of being surprised that he didn't know my name)
"Oh, what a beautiful name!" he exclaimed, "So tell me Ria, are you being good recently? Do you help our Mum? Do you listen to what your parents said?"
I nodded hesitantly. He looked up to a pile of wrapped boxes under the Christmas tree and gave a nod to one of the black pete who had very red lips (he must have put some lipstick on). It was a considerably big box (or it was quite big for me when I was six years old). My heart leaped with happiness so much that I couldn't remember what happened next. I only recalled that I carried that box proudly, joyfully, excitedly back at home, as if I had won the battle between good and evil.

It was a hollow box. Because when I shook it, something inside were thrown loudly from one side to another. It was definitely a little gift, or at least not as big as the box. But it was a gift from Santa so who cares. I was ecstatically happy. I opened the box and there was a pair of shoes inside. What confused me afterward was that my brother claimed the shoes to be his. I completely disagree. Santa himself had given them to me. It was definitely mine. He insisted that the shoes had his name underneath. I turned them upside down and just as bewildered as a child can be, I saw my brother's name at the sole of the shoes! How could Santa put his name on my shoes? He didn't even know my name. Baffled, I asked my Mum. She said, "Your brother need new shoes and they are his. Anyway, he didn't see Santa, but you did,"

Up till now, I never understand her reason wrapping my brother's shoes as my present from Santa. But at that very moment it was all clear to me that there is no Santa Claus. My mother bought the shoes. She even paid a sum of money for me to see him, who sat there and dressed up like clown. That was the end. There's no miracle in my life. Later on, years after that 'incidence' when another Christmas came again, I dashed to a local store to buy some Christmas presents. I was in the fifth grade of elementary school. I knew that every Christmas, children in my local church get their presents from parents or grandparents. One by one, their name will be called and they will rise from their chair, rush to the altar and receive a gift from "Santa" (usually the church clergyman). My brothers and sister never had one. Everybody was too busy doing anything else but celebrating Christmas. I didn't want to see them waiting to be called everytime the clergyman, I mean Santa, picked a present underneath the Christmas tree (it had never been theirs). So these were things I got: a set of mini dinosaurs for my little brother, a sport-car toy for my younger brother, and a set of tea cups for my sister. I wrapped them down and handed them over to be given to my siblings after Christmas mass. For someone who had lost the idea of 'gift from Santa Claus', I wasn't very interested in wrapping my own present. Moreover, I felt completely grown up, mature enough to protect my younger brother and sister's dream of Christmas. I didn't believe in Santa Clause because at that time, I was being him.

I never know when my brothers and sister found out that Santa doesn't exist. But I remembered that they were quite happy when they received a gift from Santa (at last). We, however, don't actually regard Santa as a symbol of happy Christmas. We were happy enough to celebrate Christmas with a good feast at church. They serve good food after Christmas service and we, as children, would love to come.

Now, standing in the midst of Christmas decorations and big, shiny, festive stores packed with Christmas sale and discounts, I was wondering about my belief in Santa Claus. Do I believe in Santa? When I called my parents few days ago they were a bit worried about me being so far away from home, but they relieved that I keep them in touch every now and then. I had a nice chat with them and also with my brothers and sister. I realise that I have a very nice family and a home. I have a wonderful present that even the biggest box couldn't wrap. I also have these all things that I had never imagined before: an adventurous life, wonderful friends, bravery to leave my comfort zone, my health, my sense of humor, my dreams which still live on. So yes, I do believe in Santa Claus. He doesn't exist just for child's dream at christmas or as christmas cards decoration. He indeed gives presents for all of us, children and adults, who believe in good things. After all, it's just a battle between good and evil.

P.S. Due to world's recession, there is no Santa this year. All of them are unemployed.


mariam said...

i really like your storytelling :) i actually have a similar story, santa disappointed me at a shopping center when i was about 7. he handed me a wrapped up deflated baseball, which i had absolutely no use for. it was just one of those random present santas. so bad!

wongmuntilan said...

I guess almost everybody has a similar story :) before Christmas my mom took me to go shopping for clothes, and the clothes came back to me mysteriously through Santa's hands :)I thought Santa would be tired if he has to buy presents for all the children in the world (and he might not have enough money to do that), so he delegates some of his tasks to our parents. Our parents would do the shopping and Santa would do the presenting :)

Sri Riyati Sugiarto & Kristina Melani Budiman said...

Santi, makasih banget atas kunjungannya. Sayang Hp nokia rusak nggak sepadan kalo dikirim pake DHL. I guess you're right. It's just the idea of Santa, coming silently after midnight to put your present in the sock under your fireplace is very amusing for some children. Not for us. But if your church has Santa and you don't get anything from him (while other children do), it's quite a pain in the neck...

Sri Riyati Sugiarto & Kristina Melani Budiman said...

Oh ya Santi, and at least the present was yours, not your brother's ^_^

kristina said...

ini cerita santa yang mengenaskan sekaligus lucu hahaha...kok mesakke nemen si kowe. dan aku heran kenapa mamamu ga mo beliin kado buat kowe malah buat adekmu, curang. aku sih secara pribadi ga percaya santa dan kowe lebih beruntung..mamamu pernah mo bayarin santa buat kowe. mamiku ga pernah mau bayarin aku foto mbek santa.mugakno pas di jkt aku foto mbek rumah santa daripada mupeng.


Sejujurnya, inilah Ria dan Kristina...

Ria dan Kristina, sama-sama punya ide-ide yang nggak masuk akal saking nggak bangetnya pikiran kami berdua. Obrolan kami ini, berkat kemajuan jaman dan menjamurnya aplikasi internet (hiduplah Indonesia Raya!), kami sekarang bisa tuangkan di blog. Dulu kami suka ngetik-ngetik pake mesin ketik manual di belakang kertas HVS A4 bekas fotokopian. Tapi tetep aja kami tidak berhenti menulis. Kata pepatah: setipis-tipisnya tinta masih lebih tajam dari ingatan manusia. Kata Pramoedya: menulis berarti memetakan sejarah. Halah, kalo tulisan kita mah sebenernya gak ada hubungannya ama sejarah. Cuma mengukirkan betapa masa muda kami ini sangat indah. Dan jelas nggak mutu isinya. Jadi, mending kalo sisa-sisa waktu dan pengen baca yang tidak terlalu berguna sajalah baru buka blog kami... Tapi apapun komentar, masukan dan pendapat teman-teman, semuanya adalah cendera mata yang indah buat kami...

Ria dan Kristina (hualah, koyok undangan penganten. Amit2 deh. Lesbong juga pilih-pilih ah...)

About Us

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pindah2..tergantung mood, Indonesia
Sri Riyati Sugiarto (aka Ria) adalah cewek kelahiran limpung..(pinggiran kota Pekalongan)..habis sekolah di SMU St. Bernardus Pekalongan trus kuliah kedokteran di Undip Semarang..sementara Kristina Melani Budiman (aka Kristina) juga lahir di Pekalongan trus satu SMU ama Ria dan kuliah di Atma Jaya Jogjakarta. kami kenal di kelas 3 SMU tapi mo duduk bareng selalu ga bisa gara2 terlalu cerewet dan kalo duduk sebangku selalu bikin keributan karena hobinya menggosip jadi terpaksa sampai sekarang tidak pernah duduk bareng..untungnya kita ga satu kampus :p