Preparing for the Truth About Santa
This Holiday season threw me a curve ball when my oldest, a mere 8 years old, announced that he was uncertain if Santa was real. Playing it as cool as I could possibly be, I questioned him further to ascertain the depth of this doubt and its sources. I never imagined that this moment would bring such a sense of panic for me. But I realized this could be the end of Christmas as I know it, as he knows it. More importantly it means he’s growing up!
Thus began my quest for 2 things: how to stem off the inevitable for another year, and how to ease the pain of transition when my cover up collapses. I am sure I am not the only parent that has taken this journey, the mere fact that thousands of kids still believe is evidence of this. But this is a surprisingly quiet subject, mainly I’m sure because of listening ears and internet savvy children. So I would like to share with you what I have found in this quest.
We reward lies…
My first reaction was that my son couldn’t possibly be old enough for this, so I went where every one goes for sound parenting guidance and advice… Facebook. I asked how old my friends and family were when they found out. Apparently he’s at the average age. My mom informed me of my abnormal belief hanging on until the rip old age of 11, statistically at the far end of the bell curve. So 8 is the age of unbelieving. This is normal. Strangely this was a little reassuring, keyword being little.
Many expressed that they actually don’t remember feeling disappointed or let down. They actually seemed to have a sort of “duh” moment, it made sense. I remember this as well, but for some reason we all think our kids will be devastated. In all honesty if you already doubt something then the truth is going to be glaringly obvious. Once again I was feeling a little more relieved. But I still wasn’t ready for him to grow up.
So I went for all the lies invented to explain the Santa Clause phenomenon. The mass of different looking Santa’s that canvas the area taking gift orders and taking pictures with long lines of children? – “They’re really elves that work for Santa to spy out and compile wish lists.” Why isn’t Santa’s sleigh and reindeer here if he’s the real Santa? – Easy “He’s trying to be inconspicuous, besides its not easy to land and park those at the mall.” If you really want a great source of explanations in the face of impossible doubt, search out a copy of the “documentary” Stalking Santa. Adults will find this hilarious and kids will eat it up. It’s a “Science” after all.
I continued to search for meaningful visual proof for my aging son. Luckily Shelle was led to 2 great sources.
www.reindeercam.com – A live feed of Santa’s reindeer, complete with Santa feeding them, (11am,6pm,9pm eastern) and the occasional dancing elf. Be sure to hide the Facebook feed before showing your child as some adults don’t seem to understand that this site was designed for children and feel the need to spill the beans. Luckily the site administrators keep a close eye to try and clean up these messes quickly for the sake of small eye that are capable of reading.
www.portablenorthpole.com/home – This one was a miracle worker (at least for my case). You can have a personalized message sent to your child from the Big Man himself. There are numerous options from a free video (the quality is amazing for being free, I can only imagine how awesome the paid variety is), to letters and phone calls. My son was so shocked that he was speechless and sat still (very RARE for him). He even responded back to Santa’s questions, which are conveniently yes or no. It was so easy to set up, too. Simply answer the questions, preview the video, and its emailed within the hour. If you choose to pay for something the gift is even sweeter as all the proceeds go to the PNP children’s hospital. They even have an app! Either way I highly recommend this line of defense. My sons faith is unshakable… at least for another year!
One Day the Truth Will Come
Now that I have accepted (sort of) that this is an inevitable part of life and parenting, I have been searching for the best way to make this “right of passage” easier and more positive. A friend of mine shared that her dad simply explained that Santa had a terrible crash awhile ago and had to ask the parents to take over for him. I guess that works, but I can’t stand the image of Santa on disability or what that accident did to the old guy. (I have a vivid imagination, and have successfully passed it on to my offspring). I remember what my parents did for my siblings and I, which I have to say, amplified the magic of the original lie. When we finally found out, they quietly took us aside, comforted us, explained the truth and why they perpetrated it. Then they brought us into the “inner circle.” We became Santa! They would take us out and let us pick out one gift for each of the “believers” that Santa would leave for them on Christmas morning. I remember the excitement of Christmas morning shifting that year. No longer were the presents around my stocking the focus of my attention, it was that gift that I had secretly picked out with love that my unsuspecting sibling would discover among their loot. Talk about hard to contain excitement! This is what finally changed the meaning of Christmas to giving and not receiving for me. The real magic of the secret lies around Santa is that they make Christmas special not just for those who believe in his magic, but for those who make it happen.
Maybe the truth is not so bad, and maybe the truth is just what he needs. But for now I’m happy to keep the secret to myself for another year.