By Laura Simon
Here we are, one week from Christmas, and I’m this close to telling my kids Santa isn’t real.
I won’t do it, of course, because I know the day is coming when they’ll figure it out on their own and then I’ll be sad. But seriously, the man is becoming more work than he’s worth.
When the kids were little and put realistic, affordable things on their Christmas lists, it was all sorts of fun. They asked, we delivered, the man in red got the credit. It was cool.
But this year, all three children have decided to push the envelope. Santa, after all, serves as a last-ditch option for the things you’re pretty sure your parents won’t get you. My 4-year-old, for example, asked Santa for a baby unicorn. I had to veer into damage-control mode and explain unicorns are prohibited by the HOA, so that particular request will have to wait until we move to a farm. (And also, unicorns AREN’T REAL…but neither is Santa.) Fortunately, four-year-olds are easily distracted, and she quickly adjusted her expectations to a stuffed baby unicorn and a unicorn house. Remarkably, Amazon sells such a thing, so we’re good.
The third-grader is more sophisticated. When we moved to North Carolina two years ago, he quickly converted his allegiance to the UNC Tarheels. This wouldn’t be a big deal, except that his father went to the University of Kentucky. In case you live on another planet don’t know, Kentucky and UNC hate each other with the fire of a thousand suns. The only way to hurt his father more would have been to swear allegiance to Duke.
This child knows better than to ask his father for a Tarheel hoodie, but he’s pretty sure Santa doesn’t pick sides. That hoodie was the top thing on his Christmas list, of course. Little brother is having Santa doubts, but he says if big brother gets the Tarheel hoodie, he’ll still believe.
Big brother didn’t stop there, though. This is the child who has wanted a pet frog for at least three years. And for at least three years, he’s gotten a hard ‘no’ from his parents. You guessed it: this year the frog is on the Christmas list. After a long, hard conversation between Santa and his parents, the frog is going to happen. But guess where all the Christmas presents live in the days approaching Christmas? My closet. And guess what needs to be purchased and installed in his new home before the big day? The frog. Oh, and guess what said frog eats? LIVE CRICKETS. Santa didn’t mention that. So now I have an amphibian and batch of live crickets hanging out right behind my sweaters. Christmas can’t come soon enough.
The thing is: this kid shouldn’t believe. He’s eight. His buddy came out and told him that Santa is actually his dad. My child’s response? “No way. My dad is WAY TOO YOUNG to be Santa.” That made his dad so happy he might be forgiven for rooting for the wrong team.
And what about the first-grade brother, the one having doubts? Emboldened by his brother’s requests, he decided to ask for a bunny. A live bunny. First of all, wrong holiday, kid. And also, one pet per holiday seems like enough. I mean, let’s make sure we can keep the frog alive before we add something with fur. The bunny had to be explained away like the live unicorn. We have to manage expectations, folks. We work way too hard on this to have tears of disappointment on the big day.
I feel kind of like a 10-year-old, trying to lie my way out of being in trouble and digging myself deeper into the hole with each word. This Santa myth is becoming more work than actually buying and wrapping the presents. But if I tell my kids the truth, then I have to put all my effort into making sure they don’t ruin it for anyone else. There’s really no good option out there. So Santa it is, for at least one more year. I sure hope he brings me something good.
Tell us: what’s the craziest thing you’ve done to preserve the magic of Christmas for your kids?
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I have always believed in Santa. Still do, at 48! I don’t remember my parents ever saying Santa wasn’t real. Although I guess at some point I stopped getting gifts from him. Until I met my husband in 1997 and Santa has came to see me every year since. My son is 9 and has been told by some of his friends that Santa is not real, There were some telling him this in Kindergarten. Although I think he has doubts, he still wants to believe, and I will never tell him that he’s not real. He knows the real meaning of Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, but he also knows that Santa is the spirit and magic of Christmas. He has asked for an Xbox for 2 years now. Santa brought him a PS4 last year, because there are no appropriate games for the Xbox that he will play. This year, because of all his doubt, Santa was bringing an Xbox. Already had it ready to put out for Christmas. Last Saturday, 10 days before Christmas, he lets me know that he no longer wants an Xbox, that he thinks his PS4 is way better. Thank goodness Target let you return unopened gaming consoles….No way Santa could bring him one after him saying he doesn’t want one. And yes, Laura, It does get harder. Mine asks way too many questions, like how can Santa be so old, and snoops way too much.
This is great, Laura! I remember one year on my son’s 3rd birthday (in June) he had gotten balloons and accidentally let go of them outside. He was so upset and so to make him feel better I told him that maybe Santa would bring them back for Christmas. (Don’t know what I said that!) Do you know that boy remembered and brought it up a week before Christmas??? Long story short, my grandmother in PA was very sick and we knew she was about to pass away. My sister and I drove to PA to say our goodbyes and were driving home on Christmas Eve. It had already been a whirlwind trying to buy presents in the midst of this extremely sad time, but then I remembered the balloon that my son was surely waiting for! We stopped in a WalMart in Roanoke on Christmas Eve night and the only helium balloon they had was a 50% off sale balloon. Welp, we took it and Santa delivered it to my son the next morning. The first thing he said – “This isn’t my birthday balloon.” Sigh.
Kids are so funny!!!!