Spoiler Alert: If you are a believer in The Claus, you may want to have a companion read beyond this point, and assess whether you’re ready to proceed. But honestly, if you’re over ten, you should probably just buck up and read on. It’s hard to hear the truth, but it’s much harder to be mocked on the playground as your friends try to get you to understand that your parents – while they are very nice people – are lying to you.
What follows is essentially a primer on how you – as a parent of young children – can “break the news” to a kid on the brink of discovery of the longest running and most widespread lie dealt to children in the modern world. Many believe it, too. With all their little hearts. Some kids are cynics from the womb, and they were always suspicious. Others made the discovery on their own – catching you at the tree on Christmas Eve or noticing the wrapping paper is the same as the stuff in the closet. They usually don’t even bother to ask you about it. They run with a crowd on non-believers. I’m convinced a vast majority of children over six are actually yanking our chains in an effort to continue to draw the many benefits that befall a kid with starry eyes for Santa. Who knows what will be left if my cover is blown? Will Mom and Dad sustain the level of gift giving Santa has dutifully maintained all these years? Not taking a chance. I’m a believer.
So get out in front of it with those babes who have been falling for this. Opportunity knocks when the first private conversation takes place between you and the oldest of the believers.
“Mom,” in hushed tones. “Tell me the truth. Is Santa real?”
Don’t even bother stopping to think about whether you can get away with it another year. You’re busted. The jig is up. Time to spill.
But how to do it without looking like a cheap prankster who exploits the naivety of kids just to feel smart and savvy?
Here’s my advice: Welcome them to the Other Side. The Side of the wise and knowledgeable. The Side of the people who get to stay up late.
“Wow, Honey. This is a big day.”
“Yeah? How come?”
“You’ve asked the Big Question. The one I’ve been waiting for you to ask because it shows me that you’ve grown up so much that you’re ready to understand the truth about Santa.”
Flushed cheeks. I’m not sure I wanna know…
“Do you really think you’re big enough to learn about how Santa works?”
“Yeah,. I’m big enough. Sure I am.”
“OK. Well here it is. Little kids love getting presents, right?”
“So for them, Christmas is all about getting presents, because they’re little and they don’t know any better. So Santa gives them lots of gifts and they learn to love Santa because he makes kids feel good and special, right?”
“Well we know that Christmas is really about giving. Not getting. Right? Like God giving us Jesus. Jesus is the biggest giver of all, right? Now that Jesus isn’t on Earth, God wants us to take care of each other and give to one another. But little kids don’t get that. Little kids are just gimme gimme gimme, right? So we gave them Santa, so they could learn about giving by watching him.”
“…And when you get old enough to understand that Christmas is about giving…..wait for it….. you become Santa. Just like me and Dad and all the other grown ups. We all know that Christmas is about giving, right?. We’re all Santa.”
Hmmm. Confused. A bit of calculating going on….
“So now you’re big enough to join with all of the big kids and me and Dad and (insert favorite grown ups), to take over Christmas and be Santa for all the little kids until they’re old enough to understand.”
“Will I still get presents?”
“Oh yes. Except now you know they’re from the people who love you who are doing what God wanted us to do – take care of each other.”
At this point, I would throw in some token to mark the rite of passage into Big Kidhood. An extra half hour tacked onto bedtime. Or a small budget to spend on gifts for the little kids. Something to ease this new burden of being Santa.
Will this work on your kids? It won’t work on all. I have a friend who waited so long her son was practically shaving. (Maybe a slight exaggeration.) He lost it at the realization of what she was telling him.
“What? You’ve been LYING to me ALL this TIME? My friends kept telling me you were lying to me, and I told them, ‘MY MOM DOESN’T LIE!’ But you DO! WHY would you LIE to me?”
Clearly they’re both going to need therapy.
So since I don’t carry malpractice insurance for my parenting advice, I must advise you at this point to proceed at your own risk.
This Santa stuff is serious.