I’m in recovery mode having made it through my 11th feast of seven fishes. I can’t lie there was a little less magic this year. An excess of tired, a lack of pixie dust, an extra serving of “meh” and too many cookies. Flash, the elf, rarely moved and when it did it was my tween daughter’s doing. I managed to get the stockings filled late Christmas Eve but I got busted carting down the other gifts at 8am on Christmas morning. I did not send out a Christmas Card this year for the first time since becoming a mom. I suspect I may be battling a bit of that b*itch, depression. Or maybe it’s just a extended case of the Mondays. I mean Christmas was on a Monday this year.
I don’t love or hate Christmas, it’s complicated like many things in life I get the push/pull. I love the excitement of little kids this time of year. We had a visit from 5 year old twins yesterday and they were pure joy. My kids are older now and while there is still some level of anticipation it isn’t the same as when they believed.
A couple of years ago, I had to break it to my then 12 year old that Santa does not really exist. He was tracking the Santa route in full stalker style all day on the 24th giving me updates. I was smiling on the outside and on the inside I was a wreck trying to figure out the best way to break the news. He was in middle school and I knew the kids would be relentless if they knew he still believed.
I put off telling him until the last day before winter break ended. It was either going to be me or my husband and I trusted my version to be a more measured and thoughtful conversation. I agonized over this and debated best approaches, I knew it had to be just the two of us. I didn’t want to make it overly dramatic so I was waiting for a casual opportunity to present itself.
On the last day of winter break I stood in the kitchen with my son and told him the truth. Santa isn’t real. I was gentle, yet firm. His face was crestfallen. I felt like a criminal, robbing him of some precious treasure of childhood. I understood the phrase “this is going to hurt me far more than it hurts you” which has been uttered by morally conflicted parents for eons just prior to beating their child. Tears found their way from both sets of eyes despite attempts to contain them.
I explained that even though there was not one Santa, many people acted with kindness and generosity throughout the world. Moms, dads, grandparents, siblings, neighbors, friends and even the occasional generous stranger could act as someone’s personal Santa. With measured calm, I explained that there is not an elf-laden toy factory in the North Pole, the reindeer and the sleigh, also false. Much like a glass ornament that falls from the top branch of a Christmas tree, my heart shattered into a million pieces.
On this day, I saw my son transition from that magical part of childhood to the more acute phase of adolescence. Beginning on a path that would, within a handful of years, take him from me to new uncharted territory.
After our chat, I waited a few solemn moments to see if he had any questions. I knew I just laid a heavy dose of reality in his lap and I wanted to make sure he was OK and provide any further explanation if needed.
“Do you have any questions for me hon?” I asked.
“No” he replied. Then hesitated a moment and defiantly added “I don’t believe you.”
That was two years ago and I am happy to report that debunking Santa has not had a huge negative impact on my son. He’s still a sweet kid – smart, kind, introspective and observant. I can’t always tell when he’s joking but he made sure to leave treats for Santa this Christmas. He did ask my opinion on the matter.