When You Don't Have a Chimney, This Is How Santa Gets In

When I was a little kid, I remember talking to my friends about what we'd be asking Santa to bring us for Christmas. A few classmates lived in apartments, and after some chatter, I deduced that their homes didn't have a fireplace, which meant no mantel to hang stockings upon and, most importantly, no chimney.

I was terribly concerned for those kids — how was Santa going to deliver their presents if he couldn't shimmy down their chimney to get inside?!

Like most deep thoughts of a child, that one was fleeting. I don't remember investigating further or solving the mystery. Decades later, however, I found myself living in an apartment with a newborn — and without a chimney. I knew my 1-month-old wasn't going to be pressing me for answers just yet, but it made me think about that childhood quandary and wonder what I'd do to help keep the magic of Christmas alive for my apartment-dwelling kids in the years to come.

Last year, aware of my concern, my mom made me a simple, sweet gift: She'd found an old brass key, tied a ribbon to it, and included a poetic message to Santa that explained its purpose:

Our stockings hang upon a wall.
We have no fireplace at all!
You see the problem is quite clear.
Santa, how will you get in here?

We hear a legend. Is it true?
Of magic only you can do.
We'll leave out any plain old key,
And mark "Santa" so you can see.

Your magic makes the key fit right,
So you can get inside at night.

Now I'll place our special key
Right upon our door.
I'll say my prayers and jump in bed.
I won't worry anymore!

I'd never heard of Santa's magic key before, but turns out, it's a long-standing tradition. You can buy them online — Etsy has plenty, with different variations on the poem, and there's even an official site for more web-savvy kids. I tend to like the idea of rummaging around — maybe even during a family trip to a local flea market — in search of the perfect "plain old key" that Santa can use his magic on.

So fear not, children without chimneys, I bet Santa much prefers going in through the front door anyway.