Santa identity crisis

WP_000245So 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.

Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 0. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.


  1. Angie says

    I’ve had the same problem with my 8 year old son. Earlier this year he asked the big question and then told me immediately after that he didn’t think Santa was real. I told him at that time he was allowed to have his opinion about it but was not allowed to ruin the fun and magic for his little sisters (age 4 and 1). So when time came around to announce the yearly visit to the mall to have a chat with the big guy. He was back to believing. Kids.

  2. says

    Growing up Jewish I knew for a fact Santa wasn’t real. Except… every December 24th when I got into bed, I lay awake all night listening for the sleigh to come flying over my house. And… even though we never celebrated Christmas, a part of me always hoped that I would wake up Christmas morning and see a tree and presents. I say let them have their imagination for as long as they want it because once it’s gone for good, there is no getting it back.

    • says

      @Carolyn (temysmom): Oh, that makes me sad! I didn’t grow up Christian, and I’m definitely not Christian now, but I always knew I’d want my kids to experience Santa, just like I did, since I never associated Christmas with religion as a kid – just with fir trees and gifts. I guess it’s easier for someone like me who doesn’t have a religion to negotiate, since it’s not going against any beliefs. Oy, what a minefield.

  3. Sylvia says

    I have a 9 year old daughter and a 6 year old son and I don’t think that I’M ready. Every year I get really close to telling them that Santa (and all the other fellas) are not real and then I can’t bring myself to do it. My daughter says most of her friends don’t believe. She thinks they are utterly out of their minds but she is also hesitant in continuing her belief in Santa (and all the others) herself. It would make things a lot easier in a way. But I also know that once I stopped believing in Santa I began snooping for gifts an entire month before Christmas. My parents had to keep coming up with more inventive ways to hide the loot. I’m thankful that I’m not at that point yet…maybe next year?!

    • says

      @Sylvia: Ha, my kids will never be able to find the gifts a month ahead of time, since I usually don’t even start shopping until the week of Christmas! They are getting old enough to notice the mounds of Amazon boxes though.

  4. Larissa says

    My parents still put from Santa on the tags – and I’m 41 and my sister is 38! LOL My 13 yr old son knows but my 7 yr old daughter still believes with all her heart. Just put from Santa. The ones who don’t believe will know it is you and the ones who still believe will believe. Merry Christmas!

  5. elissapr says

    The whole truth thing about mythical characters is a tough one. Being a “jaded realist” I’m with you on this one. But for years my DH has been giving a pretty good story about “Flossie the Tooth Fairy”. My savvy DD11 plays along. Sometimes it’s the parents who can’t let go…

  6. says

    I could tell them again for you. I was the kid in third grade that spilled the Santa truth. Not in a malicious way its just that my parents never played into the Santa deal. We always knew the gifts were from them and half the fun was picking out our toys with them :)

  7. says

    I’m kinda with Carolyn, above. I swear I remember seeing Santa’s reindeer flying through the sky with his sleigh one time.

    I think a most telling quote about believing comes from a friend of mine. She figured out the truth about Santa, but didn’t let on to her parents because she was afraid it would mean less presents for her!

  8. says

    I held onto that belief in Santa long after it was reasonable to do so. And as much as I hate lying to my kids, I love the magic of it. I still believe a bit in the magic, even if I know that the actual jolly old elf isn’t real. My son is so practical, though. I’m not sure how long he’ll believe.

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