Santa Isn’t Real
But Can I tell my Ten-Year-OId?
Last year I watched my nine-year-old daughter write her letter to Santa. I was dewy eyed and sentimental because I thought this would be the last time I would see a child of mine perform that innocent tradition. I can’t tell you how exasperated I am that it wasn’t.
She’s ten now, and once again we’re discussing what to put on her list, whether she’s been good or bad and if Father Christmas would like a change from the usual mince pie and glass of Bailey’s.
Whilst this is sweet, it’s also deeply irritating. I thought I was done with the pretence, but, more significantly, I thought I was done with the effort that goes into propagating this saccharine myth. Ask any mother, it’s exhausting.
Every family seems to tell this huge festive lie to their children in a different way. In our house, my daughter knows I buy the presents, but then send them off to the North Pole where Santa decides whether she’s worthy of having them brought all the way back to the UK on Christmas Eve. She’s a bright kid. She recently asked how, as an Evolutionist, she was meant to believe in Adam and Eve, so with that in mind, I think I’m being played.
There’s something stopping me from coming right out and asking her if she’s toying with me. The main reason is my fear that she truly does believe, and I would destroy the magic of that for her. But she’s going to Senior School next year, and I think this bubble has to be burst before that transition. In my imagination I see a group of mean kids circling her, mocking her gentle naivety. I worry, to some extent, that I am already one of those kids, pointing my finger and saying, ‘You’re kidding me, right? You STILL believe in Santa?’
Our eldest daughter made it easy; she sat us down on Christmas Eve when she was eight and told us not to bother with all the faffing about because she knew it was just us putting the presents under the tree after she’d gone to bed.
This is one of the areas where the Santa myth gets questionable; we made our daughter promise not to tell her younger sister that Father Christmas isn’t real. Yep, when our child found out we’d been lying to her all her life, we then asked her to lie for us. The ethics of this have always rankled. If everyone does it and we dress it up as magic, does that make it ok?
Our eldest has kept her word. Worryingly, she’s a good enough liar to put on a fine show of still believing herself, which probably hasn’t helped the debunking process.
So much effort goes into being the family Santa. Have you tried getting a ten-year-old to bed at a reasonable time on Christmas Eve? The run-up to my Christmas is a manic whirl of school events, shopping, late nights and merry-making. On Christmas Eve I’ve usually had one or two tipples after the traditional festive sing-along in the village, and I am exhausted. I am ready for bed by ten pm.
Even if my little one is tucked up by then, she’s certainly not asleep — so how can I clatter about, dragging presents from their various hiding places when she refuses to go to sleep with her bedroom door closed? As long as she believes in Father Christmas, my bedtime is dictated by when her Christmas-stimulated adrenal glands allow her to drop off.
I am always painfully aware of the amount of work I have to do on Christmas day; that dinner is not going to cook itself. I am no natural chef, so I need a decent night’s sleep to ensure I remember to turn on the oven and refrain from smashing someone in the face for saying the sprouts are too hard. I’m not coming across well, am I?
I want to be the kind of Mummy who loves Christmas. I wish I adored all the cooking and preparation. In my meagre defence, I relish buying gifts. Feeling like I’ve struck upon the perfect present for someone gives me happy shivers — but wrapping — you can shove that up your bum.
Since I have to make sure Christmas is wrapped up and sent off to the North Pole before the kids break up from school, remember whatever guff I’ve told about Santa’s behaviour assessment criteria this year, and then stay up past my middle-aged bedtime to sneak the spoils to under the tree, surely you can see my Grinchy point?
Maybe I’ll change my mind when I see her little face first thing on Christmas morning as she comes down the stairs in her pyjamas, and gasps because the big man has deemed her good enough to receive a mountain of her heart’s desires.
I’ll still suspect, under that beatific smile, she’s silently whispering, ‘I can’t believe they fell for that again.’