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I Never Told My Kids the Truth About Santa, and I Never Will

Christmas PresentI have a confession to make. I’m totally the type of mother who has discussed everything directly and in-depth with my two sons. Now both over 18, they’ve survived their childhoods and adolescence thanks to many a candid conversation about even the most awkward of subjects: sex, drugs, divorce, money, porn, politics, relationships…you name it, I’ll happily discuss it, because knowledge is power, hang-ups suck and the truth will set you free.

Except about Santa. I will lie about Santa until I take my last breath.

I’ve copped to other childhood myths. I came clean on the Tooth Fairy game, for example. I don’t even know why, but I’m unwilling to give on the Santa Story. For years the boys have known, of course, and they laugh as I persist in keeping up the Great North Pole Lie. I’m entirely well with using up one of my eccentric cards on this one.

I did my best when they were young to protect the myth. I wrapped presents with the precision of Dexter. Many kids figure out that parents are Santa because of rookie mistakes like crossover wrapping paper or telltale handwriting. Our Santa was pro. I always used a flat red paper that was carefully hidden and not used on any other presents. No bows, not ever. Santa ain’t got time for bows or tags. The recipient’s name is written in large block text with a black sharpie. Santa is all about sled efficiency, baby.

The other rookie mistake happens when parents store Santa gifts in the house, seemingly forgetting how seriously they snooped in those exciting countdown days. No Santa gifts stored in the house, no exceptions. One year I almost died in support of this rule.  I was a single mother at the time, working in an older building that sported a tiny, rickety exterior elevator. The boys were 6 and 10, and it was a bike year. I lugged them up to my office days before the holiday. Then on Christmas Eve a sleepy neighbor came over to nap on my couch while I fetched the shiny gifts. I hauled one bike down, chucked it in my trunk, grabbed the second bike and crammed it in the elevator with visions of sugarplums dancing in my head.

But horror of horrors, the elevator, ever the Grinch, whirred to a complete stop midfloor, doors firmly remaining shut. No buttons worked, no emergency siren sounded. I could only envision my children having their own Phoebe Cates/Gremlin story.  I figured best case scenario, I wouldn’t be found until Christmas morning after the boys found out that Santa had foresaken them, then went in search of me to find one bike in the parking lot and the other jaws-of-life rescued from a puddle of my pee and tears in the demon elevator that stole Christmas. I sobbed worse than that year I didn’t get the Snoopy Sno-Cone machine I so desperately wanted Santa to bring me.

And then the elevator just started moving. Just like that. It opened on the second floor! I booked out and dragged that bike down the stairs. Home, after the bikes were shining in place under the tree and the stocking were stuffed with stuffers and I had carefully taken one bite out of Santa’s cookie (per proper annual protocol),  I knew had received a Santa miracle.

I made it through that close call, so why tell them ever? Sure, they eventually heard myth-busting theories from peers. They questioned the physics of the whole gig, and tried to poke holes in our annual charitable shopping for needy families. “Why isn’t Santa bringing these children their gifts, huh, mom?” they’d query like little Perry Masons.  They were never mad, though. I think they knew it all brought me great joy. Or maybe they decided I’m a loon, but I’m their mama loon. And somewhere along the years this also happened: they began slipping presents into my Christmas stocking, crediting only Santa for the bounty.

Truly, though they like to poke fun at my persistence, they love it that I’ve held tight. One time a year, one little bit of magic, one eccentric card used. What could be wrong with that? And you never know, some year my devotion might be rewarded with that Snoopy Sno-Cone machine from the big guy himself. Even if I’m an older, much more eccentric woman in a nursing home when it happens, and even if I’m sure the red package was wrapped by one of my sons, I won’t say a word. I’ll just thank Santa for happy secrets and little miracles once a year.

Wondering how to handle the end game to your own myth- and merry-making? Take a look at this Santa Survival Guide at Yahoo Shine. 


Check out some of my other posts on Babble Voices: 

Parents as Gender Warriors

Gay Marry Me: We’re on the Right Side of History

Watching Gay Parents on The New Normal

 Chick-fil-A: Eat, Pray, Love

Coming Out with Anderson and Megan

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