Why do important life moments always take place somewhere like Fudrucker’s? In this case, it happened at one of the tables right in front of the soft drink machines, while our little group found ourselves surrounded by customers milling back and forth between the order pick up station and their tables.
“Mom, I KNOW there’s no Santa Claus. I KNOW it’s you and Dad. You just need to tell me.” Soccer Boy, always deterred on the Santa question previously but some creative questioning in return from me, was having nothing of it a few weeks before Christmas. I tried the “People who don’t believe in Santa don’t get any presents from him” tact. No go.
So I dodged answering immediately by saying we’d discuss it when we weren’t right in the middle of dinner at a restaurant. That bought me approximately twenty minutes until we departed and got into the car.
“You have to tell me NOW, Mom. I want to know for sure.”
So I did. For the first time ever with one of my children, I admitted that Santa didn’t really deliver gifts all over the world on Christmas Eve. That he needed some help from parents to get the work done.
And Soccer Boy was mad. Really mad. Not that Santa didn’t exist but that he’d been lied to all these years, that everyone else was in on the secret and kept it from him. And that’s not all. Immediately after I made my admission, he said, “So, the Easter Bunny? The Tooth Fairy? All lies too?”
It was awful. Made even more awful by the fact that when Adventure Guy called from his business trip that evening, Soccer Boy immediately jumped on the line to tell him that the gig was up. That he knew, and he wasn’t happy. Adventure Guy couldn’t believe I’d fessed up. I told him my choice had been either than or outright lying in answer to a direct question–something I’ve always sworn I’d never do with my children. I might as well have answered the phone that night and said, “Hello, disillusionment central.”
And what I’ve found very strange is the fact that Soccer Boy is not the only one who’s disillusioned. While the girls never felt the need to confront the issue as Soccer Boy did, I, of course, knew that at 12 and 14 they’d figured things out. Which meant that this year, for the first time ever, I found myself preparing for a Christmas morning without the magic of Santa.
And a little bit of the magic of Christmas left with him. While we had a wonderful Christmas in many ways, something was missing this year. The kids got almost everything they’d asked for–a perfect year in my opinion since I don’t believe in getting everything on their lists. But the day just felt flat. I miss the years when the kids couldn’t wait to get downstairs to see what Santa left the night before; somehow their texting us to announce that they were ready at 10:00 a.m. (when the younger two finally managed to rouse DD1) didn’t quite rise to the same level of excitement.
I’d even suggested to Adventure Guy on Christmas Eve when everyone stayed up so late that we could put things out in the morning before they got up. He didn’t go for it, and, honestly, that might have made it worse. But I will do something different next year. I’m not sure what yet, but I’m thinking of wrapping the gifts rather than just setting them out in piles from Santa. Maybe it’s time to transition to Adventure Guy’s family tradition of having a few wrapped gifts come from Santa along with the other gifts from family members. Coming from a family where we received Santa gifts on Christmas morning well into our twenties, I’m at a loss.
And, much as I love the current ages of my children overall, I’ll admit that this is one milestone that is more bitter than sweet.