When I was a really little kid, just old enough to have figured out that Christmas meant Santa Claus, I would get so excited on Christmas Eve that I'd vomit in my bed. My mother worried about this at first, but after I did it for a couple of years in a row, she started simply putting a bucket beside my bed. I can hardly blame her.

I knew that Santa had a lot of deliveries to make before morning, so I'd put a plate of milk and cookies on the kitchen table so he could have a snack during his rounds. My older siblings would roll their eyes at how dumb I was, but the cookies were a big deal to me. I wanted Santa to know I loved him. In the morning, all the presents from Santa would be under the tree, and the milk glass and the cookie plate would be empty and I would know he'd been there.

I remember lying in bed on Christmas Eve, trying to stay awake so I wouldn't miss the sound of reindeer on the roof, which would alert me so I could sneak out of bed and spy on him. I remember panicking that I would fall asleep and miss Santa, or that he would catch me spying and decide not to give me anything. On the other hand, what if he'd been hoping this whole time to meet the nice girl who left him the cookies? What if he would be disappointed if I didn't show up? I tried to stay calm, but I never could.

I remember dumping the puke bucket out in the toilet standing in the bathroom, rinsing out my mouth, and feeling like I was going to be sick again. I remember being amazed when I woke up on Christmas morning after having fallen asleep--when had I slept?--and seeing the presents beneath the tree.

I believed in Santa longer than I should have. I wanted to believe in him. I remember hearing kids at school in second and third grade saying that Santa wasn't real, and me running away because I didn't want to hear it. Then one year my concerned, earnest parents, in an attempt to help me grow up a little, left the price tag on one of my presents from Santa, and I could no longer believe in him.