If someone would have warned me some six or seven years ago that I’d have to retract all I’ve taught my child about that sweet, jolly, old man who goes by the name of Santa, I would have taken a different approach to it all. But like I continue to say time and time again, live and learn. This motherhood/parenthood gig is not a one-size-fits-most type of thing.
We grow, we change, we learn.
So, like most parents, we decided to fill our child’s life with the wonderful magic that is SANTA during this time of the year, as it’s truly the most difficult thing to escape unless you live a completely secluded existence. One thing we didn’t take into account is that one day we’d have to face telling kids the truth about Santa; that one day he would be 10-years-old, in fifth grade, and struggling to make his point to his peers about what he believes about Santa.
He brings up the topic during a car ride when it was just the two of us. “All my friends are saying that there’s no such thing as Santa. They don’t believe anymore. I tell them there is and if they don’t believe, they won’t receive.” I go into panic mode, my heart sinks to the pit of my stomach, and just then I realize, this is one of those milestone moments when everything is about to change…the same way that you realize your baby has nursed for the last time or started walking. Yeah, this was like that but in a pre-teen scenario. I quickly just come back with, “We’ll have a talk once we’re home and can all sit down.” This was my stall because there was no way I could do this on my own. I needed my husband for support and to be the calm, level-headed one because I knew I’d be an emotional wreck.
So we make it home later that evening. While his two little brothers sleep, it gives us a chance to give this big boy of ours our complete and undivided attention because his world is about to be SHOOK! We begin our conversation by letting him know [as we have many times here lately] that many things change as we get older. One of those things includes being let in on a little secret that is only designed for someone who’s truly ready:
“Mommy and Daddy ARE Santa.”
The look on his face is complete and utter confusion.
“And letting you in on this secret now entitles you to be an honorary Santa! You now get to help us spread Christmas joy to your brothers. The holiday season is so much more that a jolly, old man in a red suit who gives presents on December 24. By knowing the truth about Santa, you’ve now grown just a little bit more—in mind and spirit. You CANNOT under any circumstances let your brothers know this secret. It’s not their time yet.”
He begins to process all that we’re letting him in on. He has a few questions which we answer very truthfully and he responds with the most heartbreaking statement,
“I feel a little bit of my childhood slipping away. I still want to believe, though.”
I about LOSE it. Because he’s right. Knowing the truth and letting go of some [NOT all] of the magic of the jolly, old man makes childhood a little more distant than before.
The conversation ends with us talking about the TRUE meaning of Christmas. We have an advent calendar, many Nativities that adorn our shelves, and we go to Mass on Christmas Eve. So, just as I began thinking that this was the end to something magical, I realized it’s a new beginning for something even greater. Yes, he knows the truth about Santa but that just leaves a deeper understanding of what will ultimately stay with him forever.
But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’ “
To the moms who have gone before me, what tips do you have for telling kids the truth about Santa?