Ok to be honest I’m not really sure if I’m going to tell my son that Santa died but I’m seriously thinking about it. Now hold on, lest you think that I’m a soulless scrooge, let me explain. I don’t know about you but I suffer from L.A.S.G., Lying About Santa Guilt, especially at this time of the year. Christmas happens to be my favorite holiday. I love everything about it from the music to the decorations to the entire spirit of the holiday. I even love the idea of Santa, it’s sweet. As my children have gotten older though, they’re 11 and 7, the lying has had to get more creative and my guilt started to set in.
My daughter found out about Santa earlier this year. I’ll get to the story of how I was so lucky as to be the one to crush her little spirit a little later on. And yes I think I may need therapy now.
My son started his Christmas list this year by being obsessed with wanting a surfboard. He can’t even swim yet (we’re working on it). He tells us it’s ok though because he doesn’t want to actually go surfing with it, he just wants to play with it in the house. Great! Why not? We can use a huge surfboard in our small house. We’ll get rid of the couch, who needs furniture? So I got to thinking maybe I can tell him that Santa died? Perhaps in a tragic surfing accident? For those of you sick of a certain elf I can say they were together and the elf was eaten by a shark who mistook him for a skinny little seal? Ho, ho, ho, oh noooo! Too harsh? Ok fine.
My son says “I want an iPad and a Nintendo 3DS” and why not, Santa can bring them he tells me. Damn you Santa! How can I argue with that? We’ve told him he exists. We’ve fed the beast. Santa’s freaking magical and he wants to give you exactly what you ask for! So now it’s either rob a bank to buy all of that, and I really don’t think I’d like jail, or I can just tell him that Santa died. Easy, no one gets hurt…or arrested. Well maybe Santa gets hurt but you’re missing the point.
It’s insidious this Santa myth. You don’t realize it’s happening. Before you can even think about if you want to perpetuate it you find yourself sucked in! Before our children can even speak we’re excited for them because Santa is coming! Every year the grandparents ask, friends ask, hell even strangers ask, are you excited for Santa to come? What did you ask Santa for? We go so far as to orchestrate phone calls, letters and video emails to our kids from Santa. We put out cookies, milk and reindeer food. Hell Santa even has a website now where you can see him and the reindeer live!
We use Santa as a bribing tool, be good he’s watching! (slightly creepy that one). Oh it’s all well and good until your kids are really invested in it and then one day the hammer drops and they ask you “the question” (cue the dramatic music) dun, dun dun!
I don’t remember finding out about Santa and being upset, unless I was too traumatized and I’ve blocked it out. I’ll work it out in therapy and get back to you. I think it was just an evolution for me of realizing who was really buying the gifts and I just accepted it. I was a very sensitive child and it seems that quality has been passed down to both of my children. This is a quality that I can appreciate and when nurtured appropriately can be an asset and not something to be “fixed.” But you don’t know how sensitive your child is going to be when they’re little. You find out as they get older and by then the Santa myth has really solidified.
This is the conversation in my head. My children trust me, how could I have lied to them about this thing that they believe in with their heart and soul? How will they feel when their beautiful little spirits are crushed and they learn the truth? Since my daughter is older the panic began to set in a couple of years ago. I could feel the question coming. Oh shit my daughter is going to be really upset when she finds out! Oh shit she’s going to be so mad at us for lying! Just as I feared, when she found out she was devastated. Truly, like I had killed Tinkerbell in front of her with my bare hands.
I remember it all so clearly. I was folding laundry in my room when she walked in so innocently and then it happened. There I was in the midst of a huge parenting dilemma wishing that aliens would abduct me (only nice aliens though not the probey kind). I started to laugh nervously and uncontrollably as my mind raced. Do I tell her the truth? She’s going into 6th grade. She’ll be in school with older kids who will ridicule her when she insists that Santa is real “he is, my mom said so!” Do I keep lying to her? What do I do? Aaahhhh! It’s going to crush her. I hate myself for lying!
Now that we’ve pulled her into the ruse, which she is not entirely happy about, she’s shaking us down like Tony Soprano. In exchange for her silence she’s negotiating for exactly what she wants and as all of you with older children know, the older they get the more expensive the things they want get. Once they hit a certain age there will be no more giggles of glee with just a $20.00 toy people! Start saving up now. She also takes delight in torturing us as she jumps on any opportunity to not so discreetly hint to my son that Santa may be even closer than he thinks.
Ok I have to go now and bake cookies for Santa. I guess he gets a reprieve this year. Damn that jolly bastard!
(Find me on Twitter @JennGDonohue)