The Brothers Hoke
Ryan (16), Patrick (14), Michael (9)
This was as good as it gets for a group photo of the boys. They were truly clowns this year, particularly Middle Son. When Youngest Son made a dig, he promptly got Middle Son's boney elbow in his belly. Youngest Son's eyes are a little moist in the photo, but I told him it looked as if he were laughing instead of crying.
Youngest had a rough Christmas. At about 9:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, he came storming downstairs into the dining room where I had spread before me packages for extended family members in need of wrapping. He was angry and huffing and said, "Santa's not real, is he?" I found it surprising and endearing that in fourth grade and at almost age 10 he still believed, despite having two teenage brothers.
"What's the matter, Mikey?" I asked.
"I saw presents wrapped in your closet and one said 'To Ryan, From Santa.' Does that mean you are Santa?"
I couldn't lie to him. "Yes," I said. "I'm Santa."
"That stinks! You mean he hasn't been real--ever!?"
"His spirit is real, Mikey," I said, reaching for some kind of comforting words and coming up empty.
"But I wanted him to be real. I wanted it to be magic," he cried.
"I know, buddy," I said. "But there's still a lot of magic in Christmas. It's Santa's spirit that we carry with us and that makes this such a special time, that we do these nice things for people we love."
There was no pacifying him. He had been hoodwinked and he would not stand for being on the outside. So he marched up to bed hurt and angry.
I warned my hubby in the morning (since he was already in bed at the time of the discovery) and told him it might be a rocky morning. Instead, Mikey was incredibly thankful and wondering how we paid for all the toys and giving us lots and lots of hugs. It was sweet.
Later in the day, he went up to Grandma and told her that he had been upset to find out about Santa on Christmas Eve but that it was also pretty cool what Mom and Dad did every year.