It was a regular after-school-day recently when my oldest daughter Emma asked me one of those dreaded-questions. She was eating a healthy snack (Pop-Tarts, don’t judge) and studying for a test when she said, “Mom, will you tell me the truth about Santa? Because the kids at school are talking about him.”
Me- “What are they saying about Santa?”
Emma- “That he isn’t real. That parents are the ones who buy all the gifts.”
Me- “That’s always been the rumor. What did you say?”
Emma- “I keep telling everyone there’s no way that’s the truth. I know YOU wouldn’t lie about that.”
And there it is. The whole Santa myth comes down to what it truly is…A LIE.
Whose stupid idea was this anyhow? This HAD to come from one of those decades when people ruined kids for sport. Maybe back during the Depression, when parents sold kids when they ran out of dry goods. I can just see some guy drinking a bottle of Coke at the General Store sharing his idea.
“We’re all out of money & the holidays are here see, so let’s pretend that SOME OTHER GUY is bringing the lousy presents! We’ll call him Santa see, and he’ll SNEAK into the house & leave the presents! So the kids will be excited even if they’re just getting corn-husk dolls are bars of soap! They’ll LOVE IT, see!”
Did ANYONE ever consider the consequences? The moment we had to own up to being the liars that we are?
I thought back to my OWN moment of truth with my Mom. I remember asking her the same question.
“Mom, is Santa real?”
I waited for her indignant outburst. I wanted her to be outraged and yell, “Are people saying its parents again, because that’s a load of crap! How the hell would WE be able to go out and BUY all that stuff on Christmas night when you’re in bed? HOW???”
But she just sighed and said, “Do you want to believe in Santa? Because I’ll believe if YOU believe.”
It was a sweet response but it was also the last one I wanted.
So, I looked at Emma and came as close to paying the piper as I was ready to that day.
“Emma, Christmas wouldn’t be very much fun WITHOUT Santa now, would it?”
Her sweet little face SANK.
That’s when I heard her little sister Lucy groan & I turned just in time to see her roll her eyes. See, Lucy never bought ANY of it for a second. When Lucy was 5 she told me that “the Tooth Fairy” was coming that night and YES, she used finger-quotes. Then she reminded me to put the money on her dresser so she wouldn’t wake up.
Lucy was enjoying this moment of mother-daughter discomfort and oddly enough, that was all Emma needed.
Her face brightened and she said, “Well OF COURSE there’s a Santa because there COULDN’T be Christmas WITHOUT HIM!”
Emma chose to keep believing in Santa at that very moment and she did it JUST to spite her sister. So, THANK YOU Lucy for being a cynic and letting Emma know just how stupid you think it all is.
You might not realize it but Santa is alive today all because of you, Lucy. Well, at least for one more year.