It's official. M declared a few days ago "I don't believe in Santa. It's just Amma and Appa getting us gifts."
It's a rite of passage whose time has come. Last year, M chose to postpone the sad event, even as doubts started setting in. Whispered comments from her elder brother. A secret hunt to locate gift-wrapped boxes. But she still wanted to believe that it was a jolly old man in red who dropped in and left the gifts by the tree.
This year, as she snuggled up to me, she asked "What did you get me this year?". I mumbled, "Nothing."
"But what did you get me?", she persisted.
"Go to sleep."
In the morning, she jumped into my bed, strangely mournful. It was bright outside, high time to rise and get my morning cup of coffee. I padded downstairs after brushing my teeth. M decided to go down and read a book while I got breakfast ready for her.
"Aren't you looking at the tree?", I asked with elaborate carelessness. She fairly flew to it.
"Hey, presents! Oh man...why is my present so much smaller than S's? What is it?"
She unravelled the long piece of giftwrap, impatient yet still careful. The box opened to show her a new point-and-shoot camera, something she had wanted for her own for a long while. She ran up to her room, while I put in the batteries and set it up, returning with a little trio of foam hearts, held together with cellotape. "For you, Amma! You're the best!", as she jumped on me with a bear hug.
Santa is dead. Long live Santa!
PS. She woke up S and took photos of him opening his present with her new camera: a cotton candy machine. Much fun was had by all.