I don’t remember the exact moment I stopped believing in Santa Claus. I think my belief in the jolly old, jelly-bellied man just eroded slowly over time.

For my husband, his illusion was shattered suddenly when one Christmas Eve, out on his carport there was such a clatter, he arose from his bed to see what was the matter. Unfortunately, he did not see a miniature sleigh with a driver so lively and quick, but rather his parents unloading the trunk of their Thunderbird with all of the presents that were “allegedly” from Saint Nick. (Womp, womp, womp…)
Of course, he was smart enough not to tell them. No belief in Santa = no toys.

Other friends lost the faith when they found their parents’ Santa stashes in closets or garages. I guess that’s what naughty little boys and girls get for plunderin’.

And evil older siblings will definitely put you on the expressway to the land of shattered candy canes and melted snowmen.

But do you remember the time when visions of sugarplums (or Cabbage Patch Kids or Nintendos or Teddy Ruxpins or Furbies) still danced in your head? When you still truly, truly believed with every fiber of your being that Santa would be sliding down your chimney that night and carefully placing a Lite Brite and an Easy-Bake oven under the tree just for you?

It is really hard to think of many times in life when such pure exhilaration is felt. Christmas morning as a child ranks right up there with falling in love for the first time and the birth of your children. Moments you wish you could catch in a jar.

My uncle, who was a policeman when I was a little girl, would always call into the station on Christmas Eve and ask the dispatcher on duty if they had received reports of any sleigh sightings. My cousin and I would squeal in delight with every update. Oddly enough, for some reason, Santa would always be in Australia until right about the time the adults were ready for the kids to go to bed, so they could get into the “special eggnog.” Then Rudolph and the gang were somehow able to get Santa back to Alabama in a matter of minutes. Seconds, maybe.

How could he get across the whole world so quickly, we would ask.

It’s magic, magic, magic, they would say.

While my uncle filled us full of visions of reindeer and kangaroos, my aunt made sure we were also terrified by telling us about “The Sandman” just before tucking us in for a long winter’s nap. You see, if we even so much as thought about opening our eyes or coming out of our rooms before Christmas morning, she said, The Sandman would come into our bedrooms in the dark and still of night and fill our tiny eyes with so much sand, we wouldn’t be able to see. (Not sure if the blinding was temporary or not. I didn’t want to know.) I would squinch my eyes together so tightly so no grain could enter. I attribute several of my crow’s feet to The Sandman to this day.

Pretty evil stuff. But it was quite effective.

So effective, in fact, I may have to bring this one back, as my two kids are fond of nocturnal wandering, especially on Christmas Eve.

I certainly wouldn’t want them to walk in on the “elves” while they are in the middle of constructing something with 3,464 tiny pieces — a project that may or may not require an Allen wrench, whatever that is. Those same elves have been known to have real potty mouths while they are finishing up those last-minute toys for Santa.

“I can’t get this stupid, (blanking) elevator to work right in Barbie’s (blanking) Dreamhouse,” one elf was overheard saying in frustration last year. Very unbecoming of said elf.

And certainly being awakened by your parents screaming profanities in the middle of the night is no way to learn there may not be a Santa.

Our youngest, Ellen, is 4 and still believes, without question. Our biggest problem with her is the ever-changing list. The last ad she sees for something is what she “really, really” wants and she no longer “really, really” wants what she “really, really” wanted 10 minutes ago. She’s like a schizophrenic Spice Girl who has sniffed a few too many cinnamon sticks.

“I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want. No, I’ll tell you what I want what I really, really want. I wanna, wanna …”

Some doubt is creeping into the 7-year-old’s mind, though. Predictably, an elder statesman at school told him Santa is not real.

Damn you, all ye dream-crushing 10-year-olds!

But in addition to the proclamation by the third-grade punk, Anders has been putting in way too much time thinking about Santa’s Christmas Eve logistics. He seriously may end up being a FedEx executive one day.

Even if there are magical flying reindeer, how can they make it all around the world to so many stops so fast?

How can ALL of those toys possibly fit in ONE sleigh?

Geez, son, it’s magic, magic, magic, I say.

Unfortunately, that magic is battling logic in his mind right now.

Thus, he has seemingly created some “tests” for Ol’ Saint Nick.

When I first asked him what he wanted for Christmas this year, he told me he was only going to think about the things he wanted and not tell anyone and that Santa would be able to read his mind.

Santa is not a Jedi, kid, but well played. But this would be a problem.

I wormed my way out of that one by telling him that while Santa could probably read his mind, he needed his list to give to the elves, who could not read minds (and who swear like sailors) and it would be rude of him to make Santa stop what he was doing to write down his list for him.

He seemed to accept this explanation and went on to make said list.

And what a list it was!

It included such “modest” requests as “real pokeballs” (not the toys, real ones), a trampoline, a bike, a computer and an iPhone 7. (Rest in heavenly peace, Steve Jobs. Your legacy lives on.)

Santa will probably be able to accommodate a couple of these requests, minus the magic balls and products made by Apple.

But the list didn’t end there, as he also threw in a Ferrari for my husband and a Porsche for me. It seemed really sweet at first. It really did. And I think Frank was trying really hard to believe in Santa again too.

When I told Anders that although it was very thoughtful of him to think of us, we really didn’t need luxury Italian and German sports cars. (He can buy those for us with his FedEx Christmas bonus in 20 years.) And those cars were too expensive to ask Santa to bring and he really only wanted to bring toys for kids, not their parents, blah, blah, blah.

He thought about it for a minute and then said no, he really wanted to ask Santa for this and it wasn’t asking for too much because Santa doesn’t have to worry about money because his elves can make anything and it’s free. And if what he really wanted for Christmas was for us to have these presents, then Santa had to make that his present.

Yep, this was just another test.

Grrrrrrrrr. I swear. This kid.

I was going to launch into my next cover story about how the supply side economic system of the North Pole worked, as well as “Santa-nomics” in general (things “trickle down” the chimney, son!), but I just gave up and changed the subject.

Anders, have I ever told you about The Sandman?