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Wherein I Nearly Tell Virginia There Is No Santa Claus

Posted by Kristen on December 14, 2009 at 6:13 AM in Holidays
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Santa is a dicey conversation in my house these days. Ethan asks a lot of questions and now the whole Santa story has more holes in it than cheap Swiss cheese. We have discussions about the authenticity of Santas at malls and Chick-Fil-A's ("by the beard I say 'yes' but by the face I say 'no.'") and those of the Salvation Army variety. Complex questions. "Does anyone give Santa presents? Like something for his house?"

It all started two years ago when he was nearly three. His father bought a Santa suit. On Christmas eve, he disappeared into the garage and suddenly reappeared at the front door as jolly St. Nick. He looked really, really good. Ethan sat on the couch in the corner and barely spoke a word. If his stare was a laser beam, Derek would have been dead. Ethan never called him out, but you could see the wheels in his head turning at the speed of light.

Fast forward one year later to last year. I told Derek he had to be in and out in 45 seconds. I didn't think we had much more than that before Ethan figured it out. He sat on the same couch in the corner and stared. Then he asked where his father was. I gave Derek the high sign that we were about to be busted and he was gone. We never mentioned it again.

So when the holidays started to roll around, I wondered when it would start. It didn't take long. It was the day of our scooter ride and the ride was a long one. The boys began talking about Christmas.

What are you going to ask Santa for Christmas?
I want a spark scooter.
Really? Are you sure? You have a scooter.
But I don't have a scooter that shoots sparks.
Listen, I don't think Santa is going to bring you a spark scooter.
Why not?
It's too expensive. And I read up on it. It only works for like a day and then all you have is a scooter, which is what you already have.
I really want that scooter, Mom.
Ethan, it is too expensive. Santa can't bring you one this year.
But Santa can pay for it. He's got a lot of money.
That's not how it works. Santa doesn't pay for the presents.
Santa doesn't pay for the presents?
How about the elves?

The funny thing about the slippery slope of lying? It's a slippery slope.

The elves are strictly assembly. They have no money.
So who pays for the presents?
Parents. That's why some kids get more than other kids.
So parents buy the presents and kids whose parents have more money get more presents.
Oh. And we don't have a lot of money.
Not this year, buddy.

Bless his pure heart, he nodded as if this all made sense. He wasn't upset.

And some kids don't get any presents because their parents don't have any money.
They don't?
No. Isn't that sad?
It is sad. So parents pay.
They pay for the materials. The elves put it together. Santa is in charge.
Yes? (sensing danger ahead)
Parents pay for the materials?
Yes. (because I don't know when to stop).
MOM!! I 've got it! We can take THIS scooter (and he held up his $2 yard sale scooter). We can give Santa THIS!!! He can use this (pointing to the handles) and this (pointing to the base) and this (to the wheels). MOM!!! He can use all THESE materials and then you can just give him the money for the spark box on the bottom. I don't think it cost that much. Does it cost too much?

And with that, my heart broke. My heart broke because he wasn't getting that scooter, because there is no way we are going to make it until December 26 without him figuring it out and because I felt like a total loser for lying to a four-year-old who is sharp as a tack.

Take all the Santa out of it and he's just a kid that is going to be luckier than some to get something for Christmas and not as lucky as others who will get everything on their list. Maybe I'm just wasting time trying to keep him from figuring it out. What do you think?


Manic Mommy writes...

Just seeing your title made me hide my screen. HRH is still deep in the belief camp but I know our days are numbered. It's only going to take one slip for the dominoes to fall.

Don't let Derek pull out the Santa suit this year - and for the love of God, stop talking!

john writes...

So the elves work for free???

michael writes...

if i was a christmas elf...

first year = i work for free and be a complete team player!

second year = a bit less enthusiastic, but still proud to be a north pole elf!

third year = after missing several production quotas and getting caught sleeping in the supply room, HR 'goes over some paperwork with me'.
with a reprimand on my permanent record, i'm no longer eligible for any promotions.

fourth year = canned in april, preparing depositions with a late-night-tv attorney.

fifth year = lawsuit prevails, but damages awarded only total 12 candy canes. attorney takes half of them.

Jene writes...

Wow, that is hard! It's hard enough to tell our kids, "we can't afford that," but when Santa magic is involved, I can see that it's just that much harder. Smart kids are fun, but they do keep us on our toes. If you really think he's about to figure it out, I think you might want to tell him. I'm just another mom, but I imagine he might feel less betrayed if you explain that Santa is a symbol for the spirit of Christmas, but that we each have to be Santa (embody the spirit of giving) in our own way, some more literal than others.

My daughter is just 2.5 and my husband and I are proactively trying to decide how to frame Santa. He's almost unavoidable, unless I want my daughter to be *that kid* who spoils the myth for everyone (I don't), but I don't want the secular, commercial side of Christmas to dominate in our house. I think our compromise will be one gift "from Santa" and the rest from the people she knows and loves. (I know it's too late for such an approach in your house; just thought I'd share.)

Amber writes...

I think the underlying question for you has to be whether he wants to know the truth or not. He will discover the truth, that's inevitable. But he might not really WANT to discover it just yet.

Tim writes...

For what it's worth my kids are a 9 y/o girl and a 7 y/o boy. Both still believe in Santa Claus. I own a Santa suit (the long robe with the hood, it's a beauty) and hand out the gifts myself. I don't wear a beard or any other disguise. Several years ago they asked me why I had Santa's suit and told me that I was Santa I gently rebuffed them. I very matter of factly told them that I had been introduced to Santa by Mister Jesus. I further explained that due to this relationship I was able to acquire one of Santa's old suits and that is the reason it is the old antique type that he no longer wears because he has been in the gift giving business for such a long time his style has changed many times. I have shown them pictures of Santa in the type of coat I have and other's that were white and even green. We often open gifts on Christmas but not those with the label from Santa. Those are put out in the middle of the night when everyone is asleep. When they have asked why they didn't hear him or see him I explain because he waits until your asleep so that you won't stop him and ask him questions so that he can make sure he gets to all the other kids houses. When they asked about how he gets in the house when we don't have a chimney I remind them that Santa has magic flying reindeer and so it only makes sense that he has many magical items at his disposal including a magic key that fits all doors. They persisted by asking me why the house alarm did not go off I responded with more magic in the form of the magic key having the power to neutralize the alarm system while he is there. One night I caught them trying to stay up late to wait for him because they woke me up to ask me why he hadn't come yet. I reminded them that Santa only brings toys to good boys and girls and that good boys and girls don't stay up late to ambush Santa. I went on to say that he's not fond of it and will skip your house. They quickly scampered off to bed and in the morning were thrilled to see he had been there. It appears to me that the mistake many parents make is that they try to make Santa real by allowing him to be seen by children. What makes Santa a powerful being is that he is magic through and through. Don't try to reason with children but rather make matter of fact statements that can't be disproved by a child who is trying to connect the dots. The wilder the stories and abilities of the famous Claus they powerful and real he becomes to them. Don't apply our world's standard operating procedures to Santa, his workshop, and definitely not his elves. Santa does what he does out of love and so do his elves. He does worry about buying on economies of scale, cost overruns, base materials cost, etc... He gets everything he needs by tapping in to the most magical energy the world has. LOVE.

He's a few things to consider.

1. Have one or two gifts of good value come from Santa. Leave the Wii and the expensive stuff to Mom & Dad, and Grandparents.

2. No sightings of the Claus-ter are to be had. We parents are too clumsy, awkward, etc... to pull of the ruse.

3. No discussions are to be had concerning Santa's operations in real world terms. Santa's elves are also magical and can turn ice and snow into raw material. Tell them that dwarfs (tough elf like miners) and fairies/sprites (woodland type elfs) bring the raw materials to Santa's elves and they convert it in to usable material. Remember it's all run by magic.

4. Santa's elves are not like we humans who only work for pay. They don't need money to get what they need to survive they have magic at thier disposal. A good description is that elves are like angels without wings. Remember that elves have pointy ears so they are obviously not human.

5. MAGIC, MAGIC, MAGIC. I have said it over and over but I just want it to sink in.

Good Luck out there!

By the way my kids, 9 and 7, still believe in the tooth fairy. More Magic.

EMMANI writes...

It is so sad that we as adult keep lying to our young ones. But yet we want them to be honest in everything in life. As for me and my household we are honest to our children about such. After much careful research on the background of christmas, my conscious could not allow me to keep engaging in this activity anymore. we give gifts throughout the year to our friends and families. Notice how gift giving has become so grudgingly or under compulsion. It's really not The most wonderful time of the year". Sit as a family and do some real research and then see the outcome. The kids will thank you for it, and maybe you'll have a little peace of mind.

Jess writes...

I wish I could give you a hug and distract that sweet little innocent LOOKING face (I said innocent LOOKING...I know better...)

julee writes...

I love santa, I don't make it complicated, I feel my older kids know but they want to believe like me. It makes it fun!!

Marelle writes...

Best post! So funny.

tim writes...

Emmani needs to wake up. It is sad that you don't let your children experience the magic of Santa during Christ's birthday. It is the most wonderful time of the year if you treat your children like children and let them dream and wonder at the blessings of Christmas. What a shame!

Dee writes...

When my kids were 8 and 7 they asked, "Mom is Santa really real?" The way they asked I thought they already knew so I said, "No he's not." Well they were crushed, and I felt like the worst Grinch mother ever! But, I must say, as a single mother with very little money,once I ruined the Santa myth Christmas stress was alleviated. So they got over it quickly, and Christmas was much better without the lie. Now they are grown men, and they will occasionally tease me about it. It's now a joke, and no one was damaged for life!

KristenAuthor Profile Page writes...

Dee, I don't know. They keep bringing it up. LOL. Just kidding.

erika writes...

Why is it so important for you to create this lie for him when it doesn't even have anything to do with Jesus? Isn't this the time when people are suppose to be focusing more on the "spiritual" than the "physical"? I could never understand how parents could justify lying to their sweet and gullable children all for the sake of a tradition! What makes it so sad is that they believe everything that we tell them and we demand the truth from them! What hypocrites!

Norma writes...

We don't celebrate christmas in our house and we're not missing on "The Blessing that christmas brings" as Mr. Tim brings out. christmas is a tradition that has been based on, well look it up. I definately agree w/ erika and emmani, atleast some people have since and understanding. You can find the true meaning of christmas, it has absolutely NOTHING to do with christ birth. FYI: google it up "The origin of Christmas".
happy reading.

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