Well color me slack-jawed in disbelief.
You see, my friend (and fellow Babble Voices blogger) Amalah told me she had overheard an exchange sometime back this summer (when clearly the attention of all children everywhere must be presumed to be trained on a holiday TWO SEASONS AND SIX FREAKING MONTHS AWAY), a conversation that took place between my daughter and her son, Noah, on the subject of the jolly fat man. According to Amy, it all went down something like this:
My daughter: You see, Santa can’t possibly be real. No one can live on just milk and cookies. YOU’D DIE.
Her son: Yeah, you’re crazy and wrong and I’m not talking about this anymore.
So in light of this one would assume that this year we wouldn’t be putting out cookies Christmas Eve, or presents from the mythical Santa the next morning for that matter.
One would be gravely mistaken.
I’m not entirely certain if her mind was changed in fact and actuality or if she simply considered her options and decided that a Christmas with Santa and the attendant Santa-given presents was a FAR better deal than a Christmas without them, but she’s now swearing up and down that SANTA! IS! REAL! And I’m not going to dissuade her from that notion. Nope. No siree.
Why? Oh I’ll tell you why.
Because when I was my daughter’s age some Grinch of a kid at school told me all about the Santa Fraud, as kids are won’t to. They seem to like to crush one another’s dreams and spirits – particularly when they’ve had their own crushed – and this little jerk wasn’t going to let ME have a holly jolly Santa-filled Christmas when HE was now bitter and disillusioned, ooooh no. Upon receiving this rather upsetting Santa-debunking information I turned to my parents for confirmation, of course not wanting to believe that my family, teachers, and even my favorite TV characters had together actively participated in such a preposterously epic deception for so many years. I didn’t really want confirmation of the lie – in fact if anything I wanted the exact opposite. Still, I nagged and bugged my poor father about the issue of Santa’s Veracity for days, and he valiantly put me off and put me off… until finally, understandably, he caved and admitted the awful truth.
I was as crushed and angry as I’d been when they cancelled Wonder Woman a year earlier. Which is to say, VERY and ALL OUT OF PROPORTION. It’s a memory that’s stayed with me, that moment I found out the truth about Santa. And even though I clearly forced my Dad’s hand, I really and honestly wished at the time that he hadn’t told me.
So you see, I simply can’t bring myself to visit that disillusionment on my daughter. Call me a coward, tell me I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, whatever. Fine. But I’m just not going to be the one to impart that particular information to her. I have no doubt she’ll find out (presuming she doesn’t know already and is just playing me and my weirdo Santa neuroses like a violin), and I have no intention of unnecessarily extending her belief by any stretch of the imagination, not at all. I’m just not going to be the one to do the Unmasking Of The Lie. I’m going to remain neutral – a Santa Switzerland, if you will.
Her: Does Santa really exist?
Me: I don’t know, what do YOU think?
Her: I’m not sure… Do you believe in Santa?
Me: Hey look – something SHINY!
Sure it’s inelegant. Maybe even outright obfuscating. But sometimes, as parents, we have to handle things in ways that aren’t ideal just so we can live with ourselves and sleep soundly at night, amirite?
So how did you find out about Santa? Was it traumatizing, or no biggie? And when and how do you plan to tell your kids – or like me do you plan to not tell them at all, EVER?
Read more from Tracey Gaughran-Perez at her personal blog Sweetney.com