Editor’s Note – Because this is a holiday week, our Relationships post has been written by our Sense and Centsibility author, Jenn Wallis. It’s a Christmas parenting story. About Santa.
For years, we went to great lengths to make sure my oldest son Kyle kept believing that Santa is real. After he would go to sleep on Christmas Eve, my husband Justin would get out one of his Doc Marten’s boots from the 90’s (that he still wears – but that’s fodder for another blog) and imprint the sole into the fireplace ash and on the hearth, as proof that Santa had come down the chimney. Justin would even go out into the driveway and make a few muddy reindeer hoof prints. We’d take bites out of the cookies and pour out a little of the milk to look like Santa had sipped it (it had been sitting out for hours, after all).
Bright and early on Christmas morning Kyle would bounce out of bed, thrilled that Santa had come and brought him his heart’s desire. He’d rip open all of his presents. Then, he’d marvel at the evidence that Santa had left behind, proving his existence, once and for all. Whew! We would be safe from the questions for another year. Kyle has some older friends and one who doesn’t celebrate Christmas at all, so as he grew older, his questions of the plausibility of this whole Santa story became more complex and harder to explain to our precocious child.
Last year, the end finally came. I braced myself for the barrage of questions (“Mom, there are billions of people in the world. How can Santa make it to everyone’s house all in one night?” “If elves make all of the toys, why can’t I have a PS3 and an Xbox? I mean, it’s free to Santa, right?”) I had already decided that if he asked me again, I was going to tell him the truth. He was 9 years old and many of his friends already knew the truth. I didn’t want him to be like Brittany on Glee, still believing and looking like a gullible sucker far into his high school years. The kicker was when I overheard him tell a friend that he knew Santa was real because his mom would never lie to him. Gulp! So, when he asked me again if Santa was real, I told him the truth. It was heartbreaking for me, mainly because it meant he wasn’t that little anymore.
He sat there, blinking, his mind whirring as he connected all of the dots. “So, the boot prints… you made those? The presents, cookies, reindeer hoof prints…all of that was you?”
“Yes, Kyle,” I confessed.
“OK, Mom, thanks for telling me the truth,” he calmly said as he went off to his room to process this informational bombshell further.
A few minutes later he emerged from his room with more questions. ‘OK so let me get this straight, you were doing all of this Santa stuff the whole time because he isn’t real, right? Yet, you take me to see ‘Santa’ every year and to have my picture made. So, basically, this entire time, you’ve just been sitting me in some strange old dude’s lap?”
We both had a good laugh after that and I knew he would be just fine. I explained why we tell the Santa story and reminded him of all of the fun we had believing in something as magical as Santa. I also explained the importance of continuing to believe in the spirit of Santa, even if there isn’t really some jolly old guy flying around in a sleigh. Then, I asked for his help. He has a little brother, Griffin, who is 2 years old. Kyle could help us make it fun for Griffin to believe. He has taken this assignment very seriously and I know that Griffin has many years of Santa fun ahead of him. Even though we do celebrate Jesus’ birthday and my kids do know the real reason for Christmas, the Santa story is also a family tradition that we will continue. Kyle has already graciously volunteered to be the one to eat the cookies that Griffin will set out for Santa this year.
I remember when I was eight years old, I found the wrapping paper in my mother’s closet that Santa had used to wrap my Christmas gifts. So, how did you discover the truth about Santa? Please don’t say that it was just now, reading this blog.