Dec 21, 2011 Kids
So I’m sitting here surrounded by gifts that need wrapping, a task I actually enjoy (as long as I’m not doing it at 3am on December 25th, which has happened many other years). The problem is, I don’t know how to make out the gift tags.
Two years ago, when Jake was eight, I almost told him the truth about Santa. Then last year at this time he nudged me about it again, but he still wasn’t ready.
Then, one fateful day that spring in St. Thomas, everything came out. Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, everything. We were at Easter brunch at the Ritz Carlton, and there was an Easter bunny taking pictures with the kids. After her picture Fiona said to me, “The Easter Bunny isn’t real, right?” Finally! Making up all these silly stories was getting old. I said, “Nope, it’s just something parents tell kids to have a little fun when they’re little, but you’re old enough now to know the truth.”
Fiona went white and stared back at me with saucer eyes, and said “I just meant that that one wasn’t real – I could see her ponytail sticking out!”
She ran and told Jake. The next morning at breakfast they said they had some questions. Was Santa real? I asked them several times if they really wanted to know everything, and they insisted they did. So I told them. Everything. The Tooth Fairy was the next to fall. And that was it.
Or so I thought.
About a month ago, Jake came to me and said he was writing his list for Santa. “OK, Jake, for ‘Santa.’ Got it.” I made air quotes around the now-fictitious Santa.
Jake got a weird smile and said, “So I think I might have fallen down and gotten amnesia about Santa. He’s real, right?”
Oh bloody hell.
He still wanted to believe, even though he knew the truth. And even though he knew that I knew that he knew the truth.
Later I asked Fiona about Santa and she said “What do you mean?” Except she seemed genuinely confused. Had she really forgotten about the big reveal? Had she convinced herself that the whole conversation hadn’t happened? Or, like Jake, was she just pretending?
I’ve been absolutely terrible about keeping the whole story going since that day. When they told me what they wanted for Christmas I got right onto Amazon and told them whether or not each item was a possibility (“Will be delivered after December 25th” became “Sorry, Santa can’t guarantee delivery in time”). But now here I am with the gift tags, and I don’t know what to do. I know Jake knows. I think Fiona knows, but I’m not sure. As the person who perpetrated this once-fun lie in the first place, what’s my responsibility here in dragging it out?
And good grief, what if they want Santa around for another year, when they’ll be eight and eleven? I just don’t think I have it in me.
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