I guess there was a time I once believed in Santa...
I was 6 when I first arrived in my new school the College Jean Mermoz in Abidjan, in Cote d'Ivoire (later on, as the number of students increased, the name changed for College International Jean Mermoz).
I remember my first Christmas celebration there. From Kindergarten to High-school, we all gathered round the sports ground. A Christmas show was organized each year, for everybody' sake. Then Santa would make his sensational entrance, coming down from the sky, in his helicopter, to shake our little hands like a superstar and give the younger, presents they would never be able to find elsewhere.
As I left my eyes from the show to look up to the sky, my ears assaulted; I heard my best friend's voice:
- Can you keep a secret?
- You know Santa... he is dead!
- WHAT?! :0
- Well, a few years ago, the real Santa came here but there was an accident. When he came out of the helicopter, he didn't pay attention and the propeller of the plane cut off his head!!
- WHAT?! Who told you that? :0
- My big sister was there when it happened, I promise.
- I don't believe you, how can he be dead?! He is coming now... I can see his helicopter.
- No, you don't get it. This is not Santa, it's Mr. Camara- (the swimming teacher).
Soon the only noise I could hear was the wind the helicopter made :0
I was shocked... and the word is weak to describe my feelings. I lost my appetite that night and did not even eat my desert. I did not even watch my favourite show "le Club des petits" (the animation before the news) :(
I just discovered, much to my dismay, that Santa was no longer alive! And the grown ups knew it, but they made a conspiracy of silence! This had to be clear in my own mind! What really happened to Santa? I would do my own investigation and unmask the truth!
It took me a year. Christmas was approaching, so as usual, I had to prepare my wish list. The only exception that year was to make the list secret. No one, not even my best friend Claire, not even my sister Maya (who always helped with the spelling of my letter) could know the content of that precious letter to Santa. I could not allow anyone to grass on me to Mr. Camara, when I was that close to achieving my goal!
A normal list went up to 10 or 15 presents. But according to my parents, getting the 15 presents was a very tough task, because the criteria for Santa's selection was extremely high (good behaviour the entire year, good grades... and no spelling mistakes in the letter.) The spelling criteria was the only one I used to pass with no difficulties (with my sister's help)... this is how I have always been assured to get at least 5 presents. But this year, without Maya's help, would I even be able to get one present?! I was very worried but I could not ruin the investigation.
I neatly wrote the secret list. Put it in a small envelope, then put the small envelope in a bigger one, then wrote my address. Instead of using cute stickers to close it, I pasted it with a strong glue then taped it... then put the cute stickers: we are never sure enough.
Everything was perfect; the delivery man (my mom) collected my precious list among the rest of my letters in my mail box (a tissue box taped to my bedroom's door). Now I just had to be patient.
And when Christmas came, I got what I've asked for: my pretty doll Natacha.
How could Mr. Camara possibly know the content of my secret list; and how could he possibly know where I lived?
There was no more doubt: Santa, who was the only one to have read my letter, just brought me the most beautiful presents.
I had to tell Claire: her sister was wrong! Santa was alive, but most of all...Mr Camara wasn't Santa Claus!
A few years later, many kids of 4th grades stop believing in Santa...among them: Me.