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Ending the Affair Between Santa and His Biggest Lover

By Ron Mattocks |

Santa's Biggest Lover

The foggy cold weather made my tongue sizzle. The smell of the eggnog and cookies filled the air. As I walked in the living room I saw a mountain of presents. It was finally Christmas. Therefore, I felt as if I were Santa’s biggest lover! The End.


Adorable right? My stepdaughter wrote that after making her Christmas list last weekend. She firmly believes that Santa Claus, the elves, the reindeer — all of it actually exists. To her they are every bit as real as the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. She’s also 9.

Two nights ago I killed the affair between Santa and his biggest lover. Shattered it like a fragile tree ornament hitting the cold hard floor of reality. I had just handed the girls their dinner, when she said that the kids in her class were making fun of her for believing in Santa.

We’ve had a lot of problems with the little punk-asses in Stepdaughter 1’s class. Last year it took exactly 1.5 seconds for us to call a meeting with the administration after I caught her trying to smuggle a knife to school. She planned on using to defend herself against several boys who were touching her where no one should be touching any girl. There have been other issues too.

“Santa’s not real, honey,” I said recalling how morally bereft her fellow fourth-graders are. A long silence ensued.

“I don’t believe you,” she finally said.

I started to load up the dishwasher. “No, honey, I’m serious. Santa’s more of an idea than a person,” I said with a growing annoyance over not being able to find the dishwashing liquid. “Santa represents ideas like being selfless and kind and giving to others.”

Why I went on with this conversation, I don’t exactly know. It had been a hard day. I felt behind at work. I didn’t like being reminded that I hadn’t mailed my boys their gifts yet. Whatever the reason — even thinking about her felonious classmates — it wouldn’t be good enough, not like that anyway. Half-heartedly in between slinging plates of chicken at the kids and scrubbing hardened food off of snow-white Corning Ware.

I knew better. Stepdaughter 1 is deeply sensitive, despite what she might tell you. With me in particular it’s not just what she shares, but how I react. She’s testing me. How will I react? Can she trust me? When it came to substantiating the existence of a fat man delivering mountains of presents via a chimney, I failed.

Nothing more was said after my piss-poor philosophical explanation. At bedtime however, my stepdaughter was in tears, something my wife shared, standing in front of me with her hands on her hips.

“Did you tell her there was no Santa Claus?” she asked, already knowing the answer.

No doubt about it, I screwed up in a big way here, but I also never expected to be in a situation where I’d ever have to tell any of my kids that Jolly St. Nick was a myth — not after they could do long division anyway. It just never occurred to me, not after growing up in a church where the Sunday school teacher would rearrange the Flannelgraph letters spelling Santa to expose that gluttonous, unshaven heathen for who he really was: Satan! “See children, he’s even wearing red like the devil.”

Sure thing lady, whatever you say. Now when the hell are you gonna pass out those frosted, baby Jesus cookies?

I felt like a such an ass, knowing that I hurt my stepdaughter like this. The dysfunctions of organized religion have done enough to crush the innocence of children, yet here I was doing the same thing. And to my own stepdaughter no less. But it was more than that.

Stepdaughter #1 abhors change. She clings to the past — every memory, every possession, every belief including the belief she will walk into the living room and be greeted by a mountain of presents left by Santa. At the same time, though, I think that deep down she already knows he doesn’t exist, but she’s afraid — afraid that giving in to that reality will further erode what remaining innocence she has after so much has been taken away already. It’s understandable. I have my own Kris Kringles and North Poles that as an adult, I wish were real, but at some point you have to accept they are not.

Later that evening, my wife and I talked more about the situation. My wife was concerned about how this would affect Stepdaughter 1 during the rest of holidays. Apologizing again, I agreed, but then added, “I was stupid handling it that way, but I was worried about the kids making fun of her. What’s worse — hearing it from me or from those thugs?”

All at once I was suddenly conscious of how children learn that their Santa Clauses aren’t real. It’s either going to be from the big, bad world they live in or from us, their parents. The cruel irony in this however, is that there are times when, as a parent you’re caught in a place where you have to decide which things you do and do not tell them, but what sucks is how this damn world forces us tell our kids such things before they are ready.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Author

* * *

Ron Mattocks is a father of five (3 sons, 2 stepdaughters) and author of the book, Sugar Milk: What One Dad Drinks When He Can’t Afford Vodka. He blogs at Clark Kent’s Lunchbox, and lives in Houston with his wife, Ashley, who eternally mocks his fervor for Coldplay.

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About Ron Mattocks


Ron Mattocks

Ron Mattocks is a freelance writer, author of Sugar Milk: What One Dad Drinks When He Can’t Afford Vodka, and a father of five. In 2007, Mattocks started Clark Kent’s Lunchbox, which landed him in Babble's Top 50 Dad Bloggers list in 2011. Mattocks was a regular contributor to Babble, and has been featured in The Huffington Post, Open Salon and a number of other publications.

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8 thoughts on “Ending the Affair Between Santa and His Biggest Lover

  1. Tony says:

    That was an awsome post.

  2. Brian says:

    Great post, Ron. And, yeah, this sucks. We spend so much time playing along when they are young, even feeding the deceptions, because it’s all so cute at the end of the day. But then we have to confess, and swallow that bitter pill. Ugh . . .

  3. Ed Adams says:

    Great post, Ron.

  4. DadWithSwag says:

    Can’t really fault you for doing what you felt best. As a Father to an 8yr old girl who still believes we maintain the course. I believed until 9yrs old when a friend’s mom sat me down and told me. I ran home crying. Would I probably want to hear it from my Parents? Looking back probably would have been better coming from my Parents instead of a mom who took it upon herself to break the news.

    No matter what it’s a hard thing to break to a child. Thanks for the post.


  5. Cec says:

    My sister and I both believed until upper elementary school. I remember finding out when I was about 9 or 10. From classmates of course. But I never really felt “crushed” about it. I knew I’d still get presents and we’d still have a Christmas tree and we’d still have a nice family dinner.

    My parents were always BIG on Christmas. When I say “BIG” I MEAN BIG! Every year, the day after Thanksgiving, my mom would break out the 7 huge rubbermaid tubs filled to the brim with ornaments, garland, ribbons, Christmas-y knicknacks such as little wooden letters that spelled out Santa (she still does this, and my sister and I will re-arrange the letters to spell out “satan” every chance we get…just to see how long it takes to notice. She wasn’t pleased this year when my 12 year old cousin from a devout Christian family found it. But I digress.) and dozens of ceramic angels, snowmen, nativity scenes, etc. As well as a Christmas tree. And of course they decorate the OUTSIDE of the house as well (inflatable snowman, the moving light-up reindeer, even 3 mini-christmas trees)! Yes, every year (even after we stopped believing what feels like forever ago) it looks like Good Ol’ Saint Nick paid a visit to our house in late November and vomited Christmas Cheer everywhere (scented like Christmas trees and warm sugar cookies of course!)

    Recently, I got married. My husband and I are alike in countless ways, but one of our really big differences is that Eddie never had Christmas (or birthdays, or Thanksgiving or anything else for that matter). His family isn’t religious (not that mine is or anything, but there are still about 3 nativity scenes in the house….I think my mom just gets credit card happy when she goes shopping for decorations….) and his family never told him about Santa Claus. When I found out about this, it really shocked me! I know it’s a stupid thing to be shocked about but really, you NEVER believed in Santa Claus?!?! He told me his parents would sometimes give him and his brothers a gift on Christmas day when they were kids, but it was never a huge deal. Or sometimes they’d cook a slightly more elaborate dinner. Essentially, when it comes to holidays and birthdays and etc, we grew up in totally different worlds.

    We’re currently expecting our first child (she’ll be here this February) and with the holidays all around us, we’ve begun discussing how we’ll raise her as far as Christmas goes. In my heart, I kind of want her to experience the same belief in magic that I had as a child. The excitement of knowing Santa would be here soon! And it’s become a tradition with my family that on Christmas Eve all my younger cousins go to my parents house to watch Uncle Jay pull up the Santa GPS Tracking System on his computer so they know exactly where Santa is and what time to expect him in the area. I want Ava to be able to experience that!
    Eddie’s take on all of this? Santa is a lie. And when she DOES find out he’s not real, she’ll realize we (the people she trusts most in the world) lied to her. He’s all for decorating and giving her gifts and spending time with family, but he doesn’t want to lie about where the gifts came from. He wants her to know the gifts came from US and not some fat old man in a red suit with a history of B&Es. I get this…but I still cling to my childhood and how knowing Santa was coming made me feel.

    So will we tell Ava about Santa? I’m not sure…
    And if we don’t what about when she goes to school and learns about him? Will she feel left out like Santa goes to the other kids houses but not her own? Will we tell her that Santa is a story but other kids believe he’s real so parents write “from Santa” on their presents? Will she be one of those “thugs” to break the news to her classmates? I don’t want that. I don’t want her to tell other kids that their parent’s are lying to them. But at the same time…I don’t want to lie to her either.

    One of my first “difficult” decisions as a parent: Will we tell our daughter about Santa Claus….

    I hear it only gets more difficult from here…

  6. April says:

    We had a similar issue with oldest last year. Some of his friends were telling him that Santa wasn’t real. He came home and asked me. I told him that he is real as long as you believe in him. If you quit believing in him, then the presents from ‘Santa’ won’t come anymore. We haven’t had any issues since. He has no proof otherwise, but chooses to believe on his own.

  7. Pammy says:

    “At the same time, though, I think that deep down she already knows he doesn’t exist…” It is for this reason exactly that I don’t believe it’s necessary to ever have this conversation. Kids are smarter than we give them credit, and I think that they all know in their hearts what the truth is. I believe in letting hold this dream as long as they are willing.

  8. Ron Mattocks says:

    @Ed, @Brian , @Tony Thanks guys.

    @Dadwithswag Thanks. better to hear from a parent, when it comes to the big, big issues though, I’m worried about what the kids do learn from me and what they learn from their friends.

    @Cec I totally got lost in that story. The nostalgia hit me like a whiff of cinnamon and pine needles Thanks

    @April That’s a sweet story. I really am a proponent preserving kids’ innocence for as long as possible whenever you can.

    @Pammy totally agree. I think that’s healthy. I think sometimes too that kids need you to be there to help them through the thought process. With my stepdaughter, I’m not cool with how I handled it–I was too direct. I wished I would’ve let her draw her own conclusion through a conversation, then she would’ve felt more confident about her belief as opposed to simply being told what to believe. Thanks.

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