Well, we had the dreaded talk tonight. And no I’m not talking about sex…thank God.
“Mom, is Santa real?”
It wasn’t the first time (race against time phrase) my 10 year old had asked. In fact he has been asking if Santa was real for weeks. Mostly during car rides with his younger brother and sister around. Apparently some boys at school have been telling him Santa’s not real (note to self: find out who those kids are and scratch them from future birthday invite lists!).
Until that point, we’d been able to get away with the old “you have to believe to receive”, or “well what do you think”, but tonight with no one else around he popped the question.
I’m 39 weeks pregnant, extremely hormonal and wanted to cry. My husband and I had been talking about this recently and decided if he asked again we would tell him the truth, together. But my husband was on the treadmill at the time and it just (just in case meaning) didn’t work out that way.
Earlier in the night it had been so magical. The kids came home from school and right away wanted to decorate the tree. My son was extra into it this year. Such a good helper, and he really took charge making sure the others helped. I loved hearing them talk about which ones were their favorites, remembering how they made certain ornaments in school, or which ones were gifts. Honestly I sat back and watched and thought “what a perfect night”.
So there we were, I was fumbling, kind of reverting back to the old “well what do you believe?”. He looked me in the eye, his eyes starting to water and said, “mom are you lying to me?”.
At that point I knew I had to come out with it. I wanted to cry. I knew this day would come eventually. I had even read other blog posts and parenting articles about it to prepare. But nothing can really prepare you for the moment when you hear “Mom, is Santa real?”. Choked up, I grabbed his hand and told him the truth. I started by telling him that Santa was actually a real person who was extremely giving and helped those in need. And that Santa is a way for families to carry on his tradition and teach others about love, giving, and the magic of Christmas. Side note: I realized I know basically nothing about the real Santa and probably need a history lesson for convos with the other kids in the future.
From then on he was kind of quiet. I felt like he lost his innocence. I could tell his brain was going through all of our traditions, questioning everything. And he did. So I let him. It was hard, and sad to see the disappointment in his eyes. Part of me wished I would have just kept the secret going a bit longer. But I’m a horrible liar and I could tell he was looking for the truth.
I tried to spin things to show him that now he is in on the secret with us and can help to create the magic. He liked the idea of being able to stay up later and hide the elf, and promised not to tell his siblings or friends. I could tell there was a small excitement in getting to be in on things with us. Later he even thanked me for telling him the truth.
But when he laid down in bed later that night, I could tell his mind was all over the place, and he said “it’s kind of a bummer Christmas magic isn’t real.” I tried to explain that it still is, but he wasn’t buying it. And honestly I had a momfail moment of trying to explain it. If I wasn’t pregnant I would have cracked open a bottle of red wine by now and cried all night.
Instead, I’ve spent the night googling how to keep the Christmas magic alive for older kids and I’m bound and determined to do that this year. One of the recurring themes was to focus on family traditions and giving. Things we already do but sometimes admittingly not enough because of busy sports schedules or just going through the motions.
So tomorrow we will start with adopting a family and making Gingerbread houses after school.
May your kids believe for as long as they can. I’m grateful we had 10 great years of Santa with our first born.