A couple of weeks ago, I had an awkward conversation with my daughter. She asked me if I believe in Santa Claus. I said yes. Then, she announced that she was skeptical. She asked some more questions which I ducked, dived, and avoided. I wasn’t ready for this. I knew this was probably going to be the year, but I wasn’t ready. I got through the conversation without giving any definite answers. Clearly, though, it was going to come up again soon.
That soon was this past weekend. This time, she asked me point blank, “Do you buy the presents under the tree?” I responded with, “What do you think?” She said, “I think you do buy the presents,” and there didn’t seem to be anything left to do but confirm it. We reminisced for a while after that. We talked about how she had figured out the money loop-hole four or five years before. She knows I don’t have a ton of money, but since Santa makes the gifts, they don’t cost him anything. So, she could ask Santa for the really expensive stuff. She told me she should have tested it and asked for a car or something. Then, she would have known the truth sooner.
I’m feeling all kinds of ways about this. I really enjoyed being Santa every year and telling her the stories and watching the Christmas morning excitement. But, if I’m being totally honest, there is some relief, too. Being Santa is hard work: making sure she doesn’t find the stash of presents, wrapping them neatly enough so it looks like elves did it, writing so that it is both legible and not easily recognizable as my handwriting, triple checking to make sure all of the price tags were removed without damaging the packaging. I’m glad I never messed it up when she was younger. Mostly, I’m feeling a bit wistful. Santa is one of the most magical things about childhood. As much as I’m enjoying watching her learn and grow, I’ll miss it.
(One thing I’m not feeling at all is guilt. I’m amazed at how many people seem to think it’s wrong to tell kids about Santa. I wrote this a couple of years ago explaining why it is OK.)
Towards the end of our weekend conversation, my daughter started wondering what would have happened if I didn’t tell her about Santa. She began speculating that she would have grown up, had kids of her own, and then her kids wouldn’t have gotten any Christmas presents because she didn’t know that parents had to that. I laughed and told her that I would have told her on her wedding day. That turned the conversation to where babies come from, who can have babies, and when they can have babies. That was a much easier conversation for me.