I have always had mixed emotions about the whole Santa Claus concept. As a child my parents never had me believe in Santa. I was supposedly let in on an exclusive secret and was forbidden to tell any other children, and I never did. In fact, I was even instructed to pretend I believed around other adults. I felt incredibly honored that my parents didn’t lie to me, but at the same time felt jilted that I wasn’t getting to live a truly magical Christmas. I remember in elementary school how a little girl was devastated that a little boy told her the truth. She asked me if I believed in Santa. I never came out and said I didn’t, I just told her she could always believe in her heart.
This created quite a quandary for me when I had children. If I told my children the truth, they’d miss the magic of childhood. If I didn’t tell them, would they never trust me again when they found out? We went with the Santa version, but were heavily involved in our church and made it a point for the kids to know the reason for the season. The wrapped gifts under the tree were from us, and the unwrapped that miraculously appeared Christmas morning were from Santa. They left out cookies and milk for Santa which Dirt Man dutifully took care of each Christmas Eve.
When Oldest Son was in kindergarten he came to me and asked me if Santa was real. I could tell by the look on his face that he really didn’t want to know the truth, but I didn’t want to lie to him because he had asked me straight out. I opted to remind him that Santa comes through the chimney (we didn’t have a fireplace), had a ton of presents that must be delivered all over the world in a short period of time. I was also concerned about how he’d feel when some kids got much greater gifts and some got lesser gifts. So, I told him to think about those things and we’d talk about it.
My sensitive little fellow went off for a while to ponder what I’d said. He came back and said. Well, I think Santa comes through our attic since we don’t have a fireplace. Then, he looked up at me with such sincerity and said I know why Jonathan gets all those expensive toys and poor kids don’t get much. He continued to tell me that Santa collects money from the parents and then he adds to that and buys according to what the families can afford. And he added the elves make toys for the ones who don’t have any money. He said he hadn’t figured out how he got everywhere but figured with time zones and lots of elves he was able to do it. Then he wanted to know if I mailed the money to the North Pole or if Santa just went to my bank. Before I could answer, he surmised that it would be much easier for him to just visit a few banks.
A few months later, Easter rolled around. That night he told me that he wanted to know the real, REAL truth about the Easter Bunny (and Santa Claus while I was at it) because some kids at school told him there was no such thing and that your parents were both. He promised he wouldn’t tell his younger brother if I told him the truth. So, I felt it was time. He didn’t cry, but he was crushed.
The next morning. He was so excited. He came running in our room with his Easter basket yelling I know the Easter Bunny IS real. I reminded him that I’d told him the truth the night before. He insisted that he had heard the Easter Bunny deliver the baskets, and he showed me a few blades of grass, He explained that the Easter Bunny had tracked some grass and dirt in at the back door. Bless his little heart, he loved the magic as much as his mommy. And another thing he added, I don’t really believe that stuff about Santa though. Oh, really I asked him. Yeah, he replied that thing about Rudolph’s red nose glowing in the dark is just plain silly. Real reindeer have noses kind of like dogs.
We had been gifted a few more years of magic. Finally, one day both boys approached us and stated rather sheepishly that they didn’t believe in Santa Claus but could they still get presents. Christmas traditions continued…the magic remained…we had stored it in our hearts.