The day I knew was coming is here.
Rebecca and Isaac don’t believe in Santa.
Rebecca has had her suspicions for a while. Last year I found a book she made with pictures of the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and Santa, and underneath the words, not real. She never said anything to us about her suspicions, but at some point she said something to Isaac because he ambushed us a month ago and asked point blank,
“Is Santa real?”
Michael and I looked at each other and took a deep breath. Our plan was to ask, “Do you want to believe, or do you want to hear the truth.” We asked the same question when Rebecca started to vacillate and it worked well. She wanted to believe, so we continued.
So we asked, and the Isaac said, “Truth time.”
And we told the truth.
This is a good reminder that not all kids want the truth.
Rebecca took it in stride. She’s older and has been thinking about this for a year, but Isaac is devastated. His 6 year old world just crumbled around him and last night he came to me in tears and said, “If Santa isn’t real, that means the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost and the Sandman aren’t (Thanks Rise of the Guardians.)
“Why did you lie to us?” he cried.
And I don’t have a good reason other than, because that’s what people do.
I want to blame some 19th century overachieving mom, think pinterest elf on the shelf mom but via 1800′s, and that woman said, ”You know that St. Nick tradition we have? Why don’t we fluff it up some and pretend he comes down our chimney, eats our food and watches us like the government. The kids will love it. In fact one article said, it was akin to a viral video today.
Here we are a few hundred years later lying to our kids about the presents we give them, pretending that some fat man in a red suit breaks into our houses, and gives us exactly what we see on the shelves at Target. It’s a lot of work to perpetuate this tale; all to have the kids realize at some point you are a big fat liar.
Can we have the same joyful spirit without all the lies?
It’s the question I have been asking myself because Margo is just hitting her Santa stride. This is the year we push it and continue the story or find a different way to handle the holidays. And after Isaac’s reaction to the truth, I’m not so sure I want to do the same to Margo.
This blog post, Santa:Innocent fantasy or harmful lie has some great ideas. I don’t truly think the Santa story is a harmful lie, but I do agree with the author that our kids, especially young ones, need a concrete world. And there is a way to bring make-believe into the world with care and consideration. So this year I think we are going to be real with the whole Santa myth and treat it like it is. A myth. A myth that we all enjoy, but recognize that it is still make believe.
The problem begins when we pass the story off as truth.
The kids can still celebrate the joy of Christmas, including Santa, and not feel lied to at the same time. We all recognize it as a story, but one we choose to act out. Christmas is one of my favorite childhood memories and I want to make sure how we handle the whole Santa myth enhances Christmas this year instead of ruining it.
Yesterday I tested the waters with Margo and we talked about the story of Santa and how Mommy and Daddy like to pretend to be Santa by hiding gifts and surprising them on Christmas day.
And she was totally fine with it.
All these things we do for our kids to preserve the sanctity of childhood and sometimes the best thing we can do is be honest.
The kids still wake up to gifts of grace, they get to set out cookies, sing carols, watch Christmas movies, and spend time with family. None of that is ruined by saying Santa is a fun story we like to reenact. They are all fine with it.
And if they are fine with it, so am I. It sure makes Christmas a lot less crazy. And makes it easier to explain why we buy gifts for kids whose families can’t afford Christmas. In fact, the kids are excited to be Santa Claus for others.
That’s pretty cool.
I always wanted the kids to believe in Santa, because I wanted them to believe in magic. I wanted them to understand there is an element to this world that we can’t understand, can’t contain, and can’t predict. Now I understand disbelief doesn’t lead to a disbelief in a world of magic.
It enhances it.
How have you handled Santa and the other make-believe characters of childhood?