Tis the season for tough questions

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Nearly 20 years ago, when my daughter was still in elementary school, she came home one December afternoon in a state of wretched befuddlement.

That day some of her little friends were discussing Santa Claus and his rumored nonexistence. Apparently, some of these juvenile dream-killers were telling any of their playmates who would listen, that the Jolly Ol’ Elf was, in fact, their very own parents.

According to these miscreants, there was no North Pole toy factory, no elven craftsmen, no tiny flying reindeer, and no miraculous Christmas night distribution of a bundle of toys for good girls and boys.

Any cookies and egg nog left for Santa was instead consumed by Mom and Dad while they assembled, wrapped and piled under glittering pine trees those wished-for items whispered in the ear of every Mall Santa across the world

My daughter was despondent.

With tear-filled eyes, her small voice quivering with emotion, she asked that dreaded question:

“Is Santa Claus real, or do all those presents really come from you and Daddy?”

I sat down with her, taking her shaky hands in mine and tried to deflect.

“Well, what do you think?”

“I don’t know.” It came out more of a mournful wail.

“What if Santa was really Dad and me?”

“Then that would mean you’ve LIED to me MY. WHOLE. LIFE!”

Talk about guilt.

“Okay, let me ask you this…” my mind whirling. “Do these kids who don’t believe in Santa still get gifts from him?”

“No.”

“You still believe, right?” I was stalling for time.

“Yeah…” with only a tiny hint of conviction.

“So… maybe, as long as you still believe in Santa, he still brings you presents. And, he stops visiting those kids who no longer believe.”

That seemed to placate her for the moment, and we never spoke of the Reality of Santa again.

I felt horrible that she would be so distraught over the myth of Santa, and my husband and my part in cultivating that deception.

I was concerned that I had traumatized her, and that she never quite trusted us again after that. It was a guilt I carried well into her adulthood.

That is why, when I had the chance a few years ago to bring up this exchange, it was with no small amount of trepidation.

Once I laid out my confession, a lump of Christmas coal still lodged deep in my throat, I waited with a heavy heart for her justified disappointment.

What did I get?

She looked at me with an expression of genuine confusion.

“What in the world are you talking about?”

She didn’t remember a single word of our angst-filled heart-to-heart.

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Tough Questions
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Inspiration: Snarky snowflakes

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I believe all good fiction includes an element of truth, and all good photography includes an element of fantasy. In this journal I hope to give voice to the stories swirling around in my head, and to capture the images I see through my camera’s lens.

15 thoughts on “Tis the season for tough questions

  1. I went through the same thing last year with 8yo son imploring, “Please, Mom. Tell me the truth!” Instead of handling the situation in a more delicate way like you did, I asked (sounding much like Jack Nicholson, in retrospect) if he really wanted the truth. He immediately burst into tears and said his imagination had died. He and I were both heartbroken. When asked later that season what he wanted for Christmas, he told the person, “Santa is a sham.” 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This post conjured up a tough question up that I will have to answer very soon; will I do this to my 2 y/o son when he grows up a little more? Will I secretly give him presents every Christmas and make him believe they are from Santa Claus? The rational side of me says that I should not “fool’ him and make him believe in anything that is not real. But the fun, irrational side says I should let him have a childhood full of wonders.

    I for one would say that my childhood had been magical because of him. I remember refusing to believe any claims of my grade school classmates that Santa isn’t real and that the presents we received were just from our parents. Sure, it really made me feel sad when the presents stopped coming (because of some financial difficulties we experienced after my mother gave birth to the 4th child), and I realized that my classmates were right. But still, I don’t regret having believed in him and I never held any grudges whatsoever against our parents for making us believe.

    But I don’t know how my son will feel about it when he grows up. I don’t think I can bear being responsible for that major heart break that will be caused by this whole Santa myth…
    I’m sorry I’m blabbering in your comment section, but this is thought provoking. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think my husband and I made a conscious decision to continue the Santa tradition, it was simply what we did. My daughter’s generation is putting much more thought into it, and whether to perpetuate the myth.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, I remember this day for both of mine. Same situation as your daughter. My daughter confirmed with me. Stormed out. Came back in the room. “What about the Easter Bunny?” “Yes.” Storms out again. Comes back, “The Tooth Fairy?” I didn’t have the heart to respond at that point. Mind you, she was in fifth grade.

    My son came in the house. “Hey, if I don’t believe in Santa, do I still get presents from him?” “No.” He never said another word about Santa or any of the others.

    I would do it again. Magical years. I bet they will do it with their own.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Did it not occur to you that your daughter was being diplomatic? Maybe? With respect but as you asked, its what I really think. Mind you I am a big softy for your post was just a little tearful, fortunately I had tissues to hand. Take care,

    Mick

    Like

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