Tonight, Santa died at our house.
Our almost-9-year-old asked in his most serious voice for the truth about Santa Claus and this mama confirmed what he was quite certain of already: Santa is a phony. Much to my relief, he was not upset in the least. In a wiseness beyond his years, he understood a parent’s desire to create Christmas magic and was grateful for it.
In fact, he said, flying reindeer had always made him wonder.
He was giddy to be in on this big secret and realized immediately that if Santa wasn’t real, it had far-reaching implications. So not only have I lost my job as Mrs. Claus I’ve also been relieved of my duties as an elf stunt coordinator. While I won’t miss the late-night stress of moving the Elf on the Shelf, the facial expressions the next morning were generous compensation.
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When Easter comes, I won’t need to hide the basket. The Easter Bunny always gave practical gifts and a package of new underwear along with the obligatory chocolate, so I’ve been dropping not-so-subtle hints about that rascally rabbit for years. The underwear in next Easter’s basket will be met with an eye roll rather than a smirk.
I should’ve been fired as Tooth Fairy on numerous occasions. As a fairy, I was tardy and unreliable. From here on out, lose a tooth, toss it in the garbage, and move on, kiddo.
This, of course, is just further proof my boy is growing up.
And since we’re being honest here, that makes me sad.
I did my best to bring some magic to childhood and now reality is seeping in. I wanted to hold onto innocence for as long as possible in as many ways as possible. Because let’s face it, the real world is tough and can leave you longing for some bits of magic.
So once the truth was out, I shared with him some of my memories as Mrs. Claus. The night Santa and I stayed up way too late putting together a train set. That night was exhausting and so rewarding on Christmas morning. I told him stories of late-night assembly and sneaky shopping. He hung on every word. Then we recalled all of the crazy shenanigans that elf had done over the years and there was a bit of amazement at the lengths mom went to. He saw me in a new light.
I had been reluctant to create all of this make-believe, but at some point, I went all in. Over the years, I contemplated if my covert operations would be found out and met with anger. I am, after all, always talking about the importance of honesty. I asked him if he was mad and fortunately, he was just happy to now be an insider. As the reality set in I could see how much joy all of those little things had provided him and in a very real way, I felt appreciated. I told him now he was a keeper of the secret and that he shouldn’t ruin the fun for kids who still believed. I asked him if someday when he was a parent if he would be Santa and the answer was a resounding yes.
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I had asked him to believe in Santa, an elf, a gift-bearing bunny, a fairy, and God. Since I’d now admitted that all but one of those was a lie it was easy to see how he could question God. I told him that I knew the stories in the Bible were hard to believe, that they sounded an awful lot like those flying reindeer. I shared my beliefs and he shared that while he felt the stories sounded unreal he believed they were real.
We talked about the magic of faith.
My work as Mrs. Claus is over, but I’m happy to report my son still believes in the real things that matter most.
Originally published on the author’s blog