A few years back, we told our oldest about Santa. He was eleven at the time. And by ‘we‘ I mean my husband, because in all actuality, I was a coward, and just couldn’t bring myself to destroy my son’s childhood. And guess what? It did not go well.
So when my middle turned eleven last year, and the idea of telling him started to become a topic of conversation between my husband & me, I got a knot in my stomach. After all, my middle was far more sensitive, far more emotional, far more…everything than my oldest – and my oldest cried. Like, full on, tears people.
But yesterday I found myself in the car with my middle, after dropping off little to theater class. We had a 20 minute car ride. And the subject of Christmas came up. Shit. This is happening. Right now. In this car, as I’m driving. This is happening. Shit.
I tried to breathe. I tried to ready myself for this. Gripping the wheel with both hands, I began…
“Christmas. Wow. Can you believe it’s that time of year again? Already?” Small talk. I was panicking. Taking a deep breath, I continued, “You know what buddy? Dad and I were talking about you the other night. You’ve become so responsible…so mature over the past year.” To which he smiled, and I continued. “I mean, you could probably live on your own in an apartment and be totally fine!” (too much, that was overkill)
I looked at him. His big brown eyes glued to mine. And I went on, “So…being as mature and responsible as you are, I think…Dad and I think you’re ready to know about Christmas magic and Santa!” Okay, it’s out there. I got the ball rolling. Now what?
“What do you mean?” He asked.
“Well, Santa. You know…the magic of Christmas. How Santa gets to all the houses all over the world in one night.”
“Well with different time zones and religious beliefs, its really not as many kids and not all done in one night.” he said. MAYDAY! MAYDAY! This is not the time to do this! He’s not ready! MAYDAY! Abort mission! Abort!
“Yah, good point.” I said weakly. “First, let me just say Santa is a real person. You know that already. St. Nicholas. But he’s also part of the magic of Christmas. And now that you’re old enough to handle the task…it’s time to invite you to into the secret club.”
There. It’s out there. Now maybe he’ll put 2 and 2 together. Which, he did. Thank God.
“You and dad…you’re Santa, right?”
I frowned a little. He knows now. Whether he already knew or not, the magic of Christmas and Santa is no longer a mystery. He knows. Bye bye childhood. I was sad for him. But he surprised me.
“Wow! So you and dad are the ones who’ve given us all…all those presents every year? All those amazing Christmases? You and dad did all that?” Then he started thinking, and remembering, “The Santa boot prints from the fireplace through the living room? You guys did that? The sleigh imprint in the snow and half eaten carrots on the snow…that was all you guys?”
Suddenly, I wasn’t sad for him anymore. I was proud of him. Here I was thinking he’d be devastated by the “big lie” but he was more in awe that every amazing Christmas that he’d thanked Santa for, was really his own mom and dad. And he appreciated all of it. Like, everything.
From there, we talked about the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and all things magical. And just like that, in that instant, I realized my baby was no longer a baby. And he was thanking me for every Easter basket, color coded for each of his siblings, for every tooth that we’d saved with their name and date. He was thankful. He was appreciative. And I was relieved.
So now he’s part of the club. He’s excited to help hide the Elf on the Shelf. He’s excited to help put out his sister’s presents on Christmas Eve.
And now we have a few years before we’ll have to let our little girl in on the secret.
I can breathe easy for a few more years…