Dr. Phil Shares “The Holiday I’ll Never Forget.”

A secret father-son pact still delights TV show host and author Phil McGraw decades later.

By Phil McGraw from Reader's Digest Magazine | December 2012
Jay taught the Chrismas spirit to younger brother Jordan (pictured here in 1988). Photo courtesy of the McGraw Family.

A few days passed, and Jay asked me a surprising question. “Dad, how did I get from your bed to mine?” Ever the clever one, I said, “Santa moved you! Isn’t that fun?!” He said nothing, walking into the hall and looking closely at the floor. He came back, arms folded. “Dad, we need to talk, but Mom can’t hear. Santa either wears the same cologne as you do, or you are Santa Claus!” I was stunned. “Look at the wheel marks on the carpet. The stereo was rolled out of that bedroom and down the hallway.”

My first thought was: Are you kidding me? The kid was only six, and he busted me with circumstantial evidence. His big concern: that we not tell his mother, because he was certain she didn’t know. “It will be our little secret,” I told him, much to his delight. “We men have to stick together.”

After that, the real fun began. Jay got to be Santa when we donated presents to a needy family­—he just loved it. Then, little brother Jordan was born, and Jay continued to play along. We actually got the most joy from Santa when Jay kept the magic alive with us. Christmas is still a special time around the McGraw household. Robin and I now have a few grandchildren to shop for. The only stipulation when it comes to gifts is that I don’t have to build it. The last time I tried to fix something­—my ’57 Chevy—I ended up taking it to a garage, where it was stolen! Since I’m sure Reader’s Digest makes it to the North Pole, I must take this time to remind Santa that I’d love to have that car back. Unless, of course, he’s using it to deliver his hoard of presents.

Phil McGraw is the author of Life Code: The New Rules for Winning in the Real World (Bird Street Books, $26; available exclusively
at thebooknook.com). His television show, Dr. Phil, airs weekdays; check local listings.

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  • Your Comments

    • 42lyford@gmail.com

      Phil, you are an awesome dad.

      Thanks for sharing a wonderful story!


    • Daphne Davis

       Alex Clark was a girl in my church. Cassie Toe was a girl in my dad’s church. Sylvester Toe Jr. has an older sister, Cassandra. Morgan Bruner has an older brother, Thomas. Greyson Clark has an older sister, Alex. I was born on January 24, 1987 in Atlanta, Georgia. My older sister, Elizabeth, was born on January 15, 1985. She was also born in Atlanta, Georgia. I have an older sister, Elizabeth. Cassie Toe’s birth name is Cassandra Toe. Cassie Toe is an interesting girl. Alex Clark was also an interesting girl. Ben McClain has an older brother, Alex, and a younger brother, Peter.

    • Anonymous

      Is this nut bar for real?? And by that, I mean, psychotic? Who actually talks like that?
      And Phil… see what you get for telling your child a stupid lie? “Duh.. Santa moved you to you bed! Isn’t that just great!?!”. He’s obviously a heck of a lot smarter than you, and thanks to your stupid lie, he missed out on a few more cool years of believing in Santa… Man, are you a doink.
      Again, thankfully he is smarter than you and didn’t ruin Santa for his brother.
      I really hope you no longer have a T.V. Show (if there is any sanity left in the Nielsen Ratings), I think you have warped enough people’s lives for one human being.
      Holy crud man… another book too! How many people without any sense of worth or self confidence are out there that eat this crapola up anyway?
      And you take it all the way to the bank huh? You’re either what I think, and described above, or a pure evil genius.