It's the moment I always knew would come, and it's the moment I've always been dreading. It's time to tell the kids the truth about Santa Claus. There are a myriad of reasons we're doing it and a bundle of worries as well, but the pot is boiling over and it's time to pull the plug on the greatest parental deception of all.
I must first say that I love Santa Claus and I always have - ever since I was a wee babe. I believed in him when nobody else did. I was such a believer that it came to the point where my mother had to tell me as a 14-year old that he wasn't real. That was a devastating experience for a few reasons. One, Santa was suddenly dead, and two, my mother had lied to me for so many years. :)
I can understand why she did what she did, and the magic I felt as a youngster was something I don't know if I would want to give up, but, would I truly be giving anything up? Or would I have been able to feel an even greater sense of joy and anticipation during the Christmas season without Santa?
I have five children, the oldest of which is a 10-year old, followed by a very inquisitive and enthusiastic 8-year old who has asked forty-seven Santa Claus related questions in the last two weeks. My wife and I generally respond in one of two ways: 1) We ignore the question or 2) We say we don't know. In the past, we would lie quite a bit as well.
This snowy Christmas morning the kids ran giddily upstairs to survey the plate of cookies, the glitter-covered carrots for the reindeer, and the note they had left Santa. They had specifically requested that he write back. He didn't. They wondered why, and I wondered how I forgot, but maybe it was a good thing. Perhaps this will make it easier for dad to break the awful news.
Why does this need to be done? Recently I've discovered that people have been lying to me, for a long time, about a lot of things. It has rattled me quite a bit and I think I want to be 100% honest with my kids. Secondly, since I'm a Mormon, we are Christians and we celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ, but as hard as we try, Christ will always take a back seat when Santa is involved. I'm hoping that Christ can bring some magic to the Holiday in an even more beautiful way than Santa Claus could as we attempt to put more of a focus on his birth and life and the gifts he can bring to our lives. To be honest, I also worry if lying to my kids about Santa will have an impact on how they believe what I say to them about God, Christ, miracles, prayer, or any other matter of faith. That's why within the next week all five of my children will be pulled off Santa life support.
Many who read this column may shake your heads and disagree. Others won't make it all the way through the post, and a few will smile as they have already come to a similar decision in their families. Just understand that this is not something I do in the spur of the moment, it is a decision that has been weighed heavily and one that is made with a great degree of sadness and uncertainty on my part.
Christmas for me as a child was great. It was filled with awe and amazement and wonder. I'm hoping that as we decide to focus more fully on the Savior Jesus Christ that he will open a door of magic that we haven't yet experienced.
Now my biggest worry will be finding a way to prevent my kids from spoiling Christmas/Santa for all the other kids/cousins. Please chime in if you have any feedback on how to deal with this. Oh, and wish me luck!