Before I was a mother I always knew that if I had children, I would never lie to them, which included Santa. I always figured that kids needed to know their parents told them the truth.
After Annika was born, it remained a no-brainer. I always planned to play down the Santa part of Christmas and just tell her that it was a story when she was old enough to start asking questions.
Last year, when Annika was an infant, I had this argument with a friend who couldn’t believe how heartless I would be to deny my daughter the fantasy of Santa.
This year Annika is still not old enough to talk about it but something has changed in my way of thinking. I am now pondering the possibility that maybe she would like that fantasy and if done right, it could really make for some wonderful childhood memories.
I was seven when I realized solidly that there was no Santa. I was floored. The way I found out was a pretty rude awakening.
There’s a back-story, so bear with me. My little brother was born at home by accident; my mother’s labor had progressed quickly while she slept under the effects of a sleeping pill. When the panicked emergency calls went out, the first responders were firefighters. So they attended Chuck’s birth, which was in May. Since he was her fourth child my mother didn’t need much help and spent her final moments of labor ordering several sweaty firemen into the bathroom to wash their hands.
That Christmas Eve those sweaty guys showed up with the fire chief dressed as Santa in order to give my little brother a Teddy Bear.
I snuck out of bed and crouched by the banister watching in awe as Santa held my baby brother in his arms. I was so excited! Santa was here and my older brother and sister were sleeping through it!
I could not wait to hold this one over their heads.
As I watched my parents wave goodbye to Santa I realized Santa and his elves were not getting into a sleigh at all, but a firetruck. Hmmm, I thought that Santa looked familiar.
I was confused. But I came to the awful conclusion that Santa wasn’t real when my mother confirmed that those men were from the fire department as I listened to her relay the visit to someone over the phone.
Maybe I had already suspected it. I’ve always been a logical person. I do remember questioning just how Santa could make all those visits in one night.
But when I think back on it, I loved the fantasy. I remember listening for the reindeer hooves on the roof and insisting that I HAD heard them. I remember wishing I could visit Santa’s toy factory. I wanted to be an elf.
Even though I eventually figured it out I am glad my parents promoted the story. If anything, I wish they had hyped it more, not less.
I’ve heard parents debate this topic, reasons that affect how new parents handle Santa almost always involve the way their parents handled it. It seems that the only angry memories involve parents who did not promote the Santa story. I have yet to hear any adult say, “Yeah, my parents LIED to me. Boy was I pissed when I found out there was no Santa Claus.”
I only hope that when Annika does figure out the truth it will come gently.
Martha is an attached mama in Austin, Tx. She blogs at www.momsoap.blogspot.com
Photo: Per Ola Wiberg (Powi)/Flickr