Christmas Eve, Rhode Island. I don’t know how old I was. I was somewhere on the cusp of disbelieving in Santa. I had my older brother, a year and a half ahead of me, to pave the way for the letting go of childish things. But there were still presents. If anything, the notion Santa was probably everyone’s parents all along was a slight relief. It meant parents cared enough to orchestrate all of that Santa-related stuff. And, it meant the fact Santa’s presents so often stayed within the bounds of what your parents thought was adequate and acceptable, rather than what you’d asked for, was not part of some greater conspiracy. It wasn’t a reflection on whether you were naughty or nice. There was no jovial, pot-bellied omniscient being assessing you 24/7, keeping a tally. Nor was there an adult/Santa network of agreed-upon opinions. My parents were just my parents, and the wider world was still out there to be navigated. Christmas was still Christmas. Our house was full of adults: neighbors, friends of my parents. They were loud and laughing and full of eggnog. But I opted not to retire to my room. I curled up and drifted off on the couch in the living room, amid the boisterous white noise of celebration. I hadn’t opened my presents yet. That was tomorrow. Anything was possible.