For the past twenty-seven years I have played Santa for my children. Knowing this practice is about to end has caused some mixed emotions for me.
You see, I have been challenged with the idea of Santa since my eldest son was ten and asked one night before bed (when his lights were off and he felt comfortable enough to broach the subject), “Mom, is Santa real?” Knowing his question would come up at some point, and realizing the tone of his voice would make it wrong to continue to perpetuate a lie he’d spent the first decade of his life believing, I responded, “No Nick, Santa is not real.”
After some tears, he asked about whether or not the Easter bunny and tooth fairy were real. Again, I felt honesty should prevail. What I didn’t anticipate was his next question: “Mom, is God real?”
His leap from Santa to God gave me great pause mainly because I believe our children come into the world trusting us implicitly, and I realized in that moment just how much the season encourages us as moms and dads to go against this practice. However, though the pause was great, it never gave me enough concern to actually stop the Santa shenanigans.
On that night, seventeen years ago now, I explained to my eldest son that on the day he arrived not only was I given the gift of his presence in my life, but also the ability to help produce the “magic” of Christmas by taking on the role of being his personal Santa Claus. I decided to ask him, since he now knew the truth, if he would help me continue to create the magic tradition of Christmas for his siblings.
Each of my three other sons since (who have all found out “the real story” around the age of ten) have been happy to participate for the sake of their younger siblings. Even now my eleven-year-old can’t wait to start hiding the Elf for his sister. Mia is the only one who still believes…she will be ten in April.
I am sure next year we will all be in the know and I think, though we will talk about Santa and joke about his arrival, on some level the magic will have disappeared. This is the part that makes me sad.
On the other hand, as stated, I have had an inner conflict for years about continually lying to my kids about the existence of a guy in a red suit with a white beard who just happens to make it to each home to deliver gifts in one night. (Except, of course, for the dwellings of those families on the church giving tree whom we always buy for so they don’t go without…). For this reason the end to the farce will be somewhat welcome.
And maybe that’s the key to keeping the magic tradition of Santa in Christmas alive next year when my youngest no longer believes. At that point we can amp up channeling our creative energy into playing the role for other families in the community … after all, ’tis the season of giving not only gifts, but of joy and service as well.
No matter how you celebrate, I wish you a season filled with good health and much to smile about!
Kimberly Muench is a Flower Mound mother of five and author of “My Mothers Footprints: A story of Faith, Calm, Courage, Patience and Grace.” To see more of her work or to contact her, visit www.mymothersfootprints.com.