When do you have “the talk” with your kids? I don’t mean the puberty talk or the birds and the bees talk, I mean the Santa isn’t real talk. When you Google it, there are over 12 million posts about when and if you should tell your kid the truth about Santa.

When I went to my high school reunion, one woman remembered me as the girl who refused to believe there was no Santa. We were both in first grade when she tried to let me in on the secret. I told her she wouldn’t get any presents if she didn’t believe. She still showed up to school after Christmas break with a new white rabbit fur coat. That should’ve clued me in.

But, two years later, I was still a believer until my older sister showed me the Santa present stash hidden in my mom’s closet. That was the year of the great Cabbage Patch Doll shortage. Like every other kid in the country, my two sisters and I had Cabbage Patch Dolls at the top of our Santa lists. My parents were so desperate to fulfill our wish lists that they tried to buy three Cabbage Patch Dolls on the black market, which was really some guy selling them from his garage. They were only able to land one real doll and two counterfeit dolls, which looked exactly like the real deal, except they were missing the Xavier Roberts signature on the butt. That fateful day when my sister rummaged through my mom’s closet with me, she pulled out those three dolls, which would be sitting under the tree on Christmas morning, unwrapped like the rest of our gifts from Santa. My parents had picked out of a hat, and I got the only real Cabbage Patch Doll, while my two sisters got the imitations. Needless to say, all these years later, my sister still brings it up every Christmas.

The sister who blew the lid off Santa for me went on to have a son who is only a year and a half younger than my daughter. Our kids, both only children, are like siblings, without the requisite bickering that goes along with living in the same house. They celebrate all the big holidays together with us at my parents’ house, searching for Easter baskets on Easter morning together and rushing to see what’s under the tree on Christmas. One year, my nephew accidentally spilled the beans about Santa to my daughter when he found the Easter basket hiding space and debunked the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and Santa in one fell swoop for both of them.

But for another few years, both kids let us think they still believed. And not because they were scared they would get less presents, but because they didn’t want their parents losing out on the magic of Christmas. So I continued hiding Easter baskets, shoving money under my daughter’s pillow when she lost the last of her molars, and moving that damn Elf on the Shelf every night.

Once the kids came clean about knowing the truth, I missed the frantic hiding of the Christmas presents, the staying up late to put toys together on Christmas Eve, taking bites of the sugar cookies so it would look like Santa ate them and washing them down with his glass of milk. Okay, I didn’t actually do that part because I can’t eat gluten or drink milk, but I miss making my husband do that. The only thing I don’t miss is coming up with new adventures for the Elf on the Shelf. So whether your kid still believes, or is only pretending to, why not hold onto that magic as long as you can?

Eileen Palma

Eileen Palma’s debut romantic comedy Worth the Weight was selected as a compelling read from an emerging author for Barnes & Noble’s Nook First program and has won multiple awards. Eileen performed her essay “The Moskowitz Girl” at WritersRead at Chelsea’s Cell Theater, and has read at The Lady Jane Salon, a romance fiction reading series in Manhattan. She has a dual B.A. in English and Education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches Novel Writing for Beginners and Intermediate Novel Writing at The Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College where she is also an alumna. Eileen lives in a NYC suburb with her college sweetheart husband Douglas, teenage daughter Molly and their scrappy Wire Fox Terrier Oscar. http://www.eileenpalmaauthor.com/