Santa Isn’t Real

Well, the cat is out of the bag.

Oh, not for me. I knew about that a long time ago. Give me some credit.

My 10 year old asked the big question last night as we were getting him ready for bed. He is in a grade 5/6 split class (due to Ontario regulations on class sizes it’s a weird setup this year – there are 4 split classes) and some of the grade 6 kids were letting other, younger kids in on the ‘scam’. I knew this question was coming eventually and had prepared myself somewhat for it. Instantly, after the question, I wanted to draw from my own experiences – how did I feel when i found out for the first time, and I couldn’t recall it at all. I have either completely suppressed the experience and it could/will come out in some devious personality quirk and/or moment of high stress and/or weakness, or it really wasn’t that eventful to me to begin with. I am hoping for the latter.

The conversation went pretty smooth. (using a lot of Sons and Dads in the language to clearly outline who is talking. We don’t talk to each other that way normally, just illustrative purposes!)

“Dad, is Santa real?”

“No, he isn’t.”

<cue tears bursting out>

“Son, its okay. I know this is hard to understand.” <hugs and fatherly comfort>

“Dad, I just feel so stupid. I used to get so excited when I got a Santa gift. It meant I was good to people and things and now I just feel so dumb”

“Son, it is important to realize the spirit of Christmas and why we do that to begin with. Maybe in the old days there really was a man who made and gave gifts out to all the good little kids, but what is important to live on is that we need to be good to one another, take care of your family, and appreciate each other. That is what the spirit of Santa is all about. And now that you know that.”

“Dad – you are telling me you would buy yourself gifts from Santa too, why would you do that?”

“It was to ensure you believed that Mom and Dad were good too.”

“Where did you hide everything Dad?”

“Not telling you son, we still use those spaces to hide other things. Surely you can see that one person, even magical, couldn’t do every single house in the world in a night, and that parents have to band together to make that happen. Magic still exists but often it is just in the way people treat one another positively.”

“What about the Easter Bunny Dad?”

“That’s me too. Kind of creepy to think there is a bunny running around our house when we are sleeping, no?”

“The Tooth Fairy came and left me $20 just last week….”

“That’s me too Son. And I didn’t have anything smaller. Trust me, I heard it from the other parents about that one too..”

And we sat and talked for a while about a whole host of topics around holidays and the things parents do to make them special for their kids. It was a really good conversation. I told him that every kid learns this at their own time and place and to try and keep it special for other kids until they learn from their parents. Some learn of this really young, some older, everyone has their own time frame. He knows there are kids on his hockey team that still do and decided that it was best to let them enjoy it while they could.

My son is also a bit of a smartass sometimes, and the next day when he was waiting for his bus outside of our house and I drove past him to go to work I put my window down, told him that I loved him and that I hoped he had an awesome day at school and that I would see him afterwards.

He replied:

“Thanks Santa”

gave a huge smile, and off I went.

Maybe he is going to turn out ok afterall.

6 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I’m amazed that ten-year olds are in the slightest doubt about any of this, especially in the internet age. I’d have thought seven would be the extreme upper end of credibility. There’s a whole psychological change of gear around five-to-seven where fantasy recedes and reality takes over. Even if an individual child persisted in fantastical beliefs I’d be very surprised that the surrounding peer group would endorse it. I wonder if it’s a cultural thing? I also struggle to remember when I ceased to believe in Santa (Father Christmas as we all called him back then) or when my step-kids stopped believing. It certainly wasn’t a big deal for anyone though, more like “oh I guessed that but I wasn’t quite sure” I think.

    One thing I do know for sure is that I never believed for a second, and no-one ever told me I should, that getting presents from Santa had anything to do with behavior. I never really piked up on that aspect until I was much older, mostly from Phil Spector. I bet he’s not on Santa’s list this year…

    1. I was surprised too, and when talking with other parents found it is very common. SOME parents actually are terrified of their kids finding out and for (what it seems ) their own enjoyment of the joy want to keep it going indefinitely. Me? I was more worried that he would get beat up in the playground or teased if he kept believing past a point and then be angry that I didn’t let him in on the truth before he defended those beliefs =) About half of his hockey team, made up of 9 and 10 year olds, still believe according to the straw pole from the parents I spoke with.

      Maybe it is cultural. I am always surprised when I travel to NZ and find out how low key they celebrate Christmas and how Hallowe’en isn’t even a thing. The UK would also most likely have it’s differences.

      And we really pushed the behaviour aspect – amazing how bribery works!

    1. I’m planning on this approach, keeping up with the idea until it no longer makes sense. Maybe Santa as a person doesn’t exist but as an idea, I’ll buy into that.

      My kids are 3 + 5, still amazed by Santa and magic and fuck it, hope. Jeebus I am envious of that state. And more protective of it than I thought I’d be.

      There’s an innocence that we lose when we look behind the curtain. Sometimes you need to close it and just keep on going.

    2. Exactly. Really felt like one of those coming of age things for him, and for him (he is a very sensitive boy) I half worried if it would change his outlook on things. So far in follow up chats he just enjoys calling me Santa now with a smile, and when other kids profess their belief at the schoolyard and he and his other friends who are in the know just give each other a wink and let them believe. I really pushed the spirit behind it all as a wonderful way for people to be better to one another.

      To his credit, his last birthday he didn’t want presents but instead wanted donations to give to the Human Society to keep a stray dog alive until he could find a home. You can buy them 6 months of food, lodgings, and medical. That made me a pretty proud dad.

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