instagram killed santa

December 10, 2012 | 72 Comments

Last gasp

Santa didn’t come up when Steve and I settled on not spanking, breast feeding and disposable diapers. We implemented Santa along with bedtime stories, hygiene and manners—with certainty.

Christmas day 2010, a friend linked to an article called “Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Lie to Your Kids About Santa.” I sat on my in-law’s couch, still in my pyjamas, reading from the computer in my lap. I reached the end and felt sick. Why didn’t this come up during that stupid week of pre-marital counselling in 1998?

We wasted time on chore division and skipped fraudulent parenting? I wanted my money back. I called Steve away from peeling his mandarin orange and forced him to read the article while I bit my nails and tried to tune out the Christmas muzak. When Steve finished reading, he put the computer back in my lap and shrugged in my direction.

“You don’t think we’ve irreversibly damaged her?” I accused, sure it was his fault.

“You’re okay. I’m okay. She’ll be okay, too.” He said.

And that was it: we continued with the Santa Dance.

Until last Wednesday.

Emma arrived home from school and, after sharing cuddles and details about our day, she disappeared to her room. I knew she was doing her weekly scroll through Instagram, because my phone repeatedly lit up with the same notification: “emmakfisher liked your photo.”

About five likes in she came down the stairs with purpose. I figured she was especially snacky.

“Well, I guess I know the Tooth Fairy is a lie!” she shoved her iPod too close to my face.

“Er… why do you say that?”

“T just posted a picture of H’s tooth saying she was going to write a note from the Tooth Fairy.”

Shit. Who could have foreseen this particular side effect of social media? Damn you, Instagram!

“That picture is actually a couple of weeks old, Emma.”

“Mom! The Tooth Fairy isn’t real, is she?”

The gig was up. She was a balloon with a slow leak as I came clean. I couldn’t offer a good reason for our ten-year lie. Our parents did it to us?

“But, what about that note she left the time her banker broke his leg?”

“I wrote that note, Em. Dad and I forgot to put the money under your pillow that night. The note explained away our absentmindedness.” Further invested you in the magic. Had us simultaneously feeling damnable and clever. Prolonged the inevitable.

Parents tell their kids the Santa lie because it’s a form of entertainment. They like to watch kids helplessly believe something they know isn’t true. At the end of the day, it’s a cruel prank.

Our conversation ended with my sheepish apologies and hugs. Emma seemed mostly recovered when she returned to her room. I spent the following 38 seconds relived she hadn’t thought to ask about Santa. Especially since Steve’s over-night business trip left me handling the Big Bust solo.

Then I heard her feet on the stairs again and my heart died.

“I assume this means the same for Santa, Mama?” Her voice was small.

“Oh, Emmie. I’m so sorry. Yes.”

I decided to read her The Truth About Santa. We held each other and cried as we closed a chapter of her life that will never come again. It surprised me how sad it felt to turn that page. I’m not the most sentimental person, but this felt like a big deal. The truth has been niggling at Emma for a while, but she’s done everything in her power to hold on.

I discovered the truth about Santa the year he had the same wrapping paper as Mom. I’ve been careful to pay attention to that detail with Emma’s gifts. Last year she accidentally saw the paper designated for Santa, so I made Steve go out and buy a new roll on Christmas Eve. A week after Christmas, Emma was quizzing me about the whole thing, and I was sure she knew. The truth punched her in the head and she found a barely-plausible way to ignore it. She wanted to believe. Desperately.

Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch. It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.

If I could go back and do it all over, I honestly can’t tell you if I’d choose Santaless child rearing or not. It will be interesting to see what Emma does if she has kids. She wrote to me the night Santa died in the journal we pass back and forth.

Dec52012 [sic]

Dear Mom,

I’m a bit confused, if parents are trying to get their kids in the habit of telling the truth then why do you ly [sic] about Santa THE EASTER BUNNY (That’s right THE EASTER BUNNY!) Why?!?

xoxo Your (smart) Emma

Oh yeah, the Easter Bunny. Dammit.


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  • jennie1ofmany

    So one of the things about coming along when the kid is four is that you inherit his parents’ decisions. Someone else had taken care of breastfeeding and diapers; the bedtime routine was established; I still hate how she cuts his hair, but I pick my battles.

    The most difficult thing for me to accept was that I had to accept bloody Christmas. I hate Christmas. I hate the intense negotiations around who sees whose family when. I don’t eat turkey, and I hate feeling like the poor cousin eating sides while everyone gorges on turkey, stuffing, and gravy. I hate the orgy of presents and the focus on the verb “get.” I find the entire thing stressful and I was really looking forward to having kids of my own and making a home in which Christmas was a low-key day off involving cuddles, baking, and going to grandparents’ to be given gifts (I accepted that there was no way I was going to convince either parent to let me raise my kid Christmas-free, but I was determined that Christmas was going to be a grandparent thing, not a home thing). I figured that Santa would also be a grandparent thing.

    Then I met Red. And he had a four-year-old. And it was unthinkable to him that there not be a tree, more family visits, and an embarrassing number of gifts, and a special letter to G. from Father Christmas. Red had always written the letter, but someone else had scribed it for him, since 1) Red’s writing is terrible, 2) someday, G., would notice the similarities between Red’s terrible writing and Father Christmas’s scrawl.

    That first year, I said “Hey, I used to do calligraphy. I can do that for you.”

    So, now, the evenings leading up to Christmas find me with calligraphy pen, coloured ink, and good paper, transcribing and struggling to illustrate Father Christmas’s annual missive (which, I might add, gets longer every year, as Red writes ever more complicated stories), adding interlinear notes from Father Christmas’s scribe Fred, and wondering how it was that I, who hate Christmas, have become Father Christmas’s amenuensis. How is this my life?

    And every Christmas morning, G. reads the note, struggling with the calligraphy (it’s pretty, but not exactly legible), and it lives on the bookshelf for the 12 days of Christmas (and often well into the new year, because inertia that’s why), and giggles at “Fred’s” sarcastic comments and the North Polar Bear’s good-natured blundering. Last year’s story was about Occupy North Pole, and I drew a tiny camp inside the capital letters, and G., whose best friend had looked at illuminated manuscripts for a school project, was delighted that Fred was making illuminated capitals.

    It’s possible that my heart grew a size or two.

    So he’s nine now. I estimate we have one more year of willing suspension of disbelief. Maybe. Then will come the great Explanation. But, as so often happens with this silly, blended family of ours, the Ex has taken care of that.

    See, G now has a baby sister. She’s not quite two and he adores her. So I’m figuring that if we explain to him that we wanted him to have all the Santa-related fun that we had as children, just the way he wants his sister to have all the fun, he’ll make the transition from dupe to accomplice pretty smoothly.

    • Shannon

      “I hate Christmas. I hate the intense negotiations around who sees whose family when. I don’t eat turkey, and I hate feeling like the poor cousin eating sides while everyone gorges on turkey, stuffing, and gravy. I hate the orgy of presents and the focus on the verb “get.” I find the entire thing stressful…”

      I really get this. I felt like this for so long, still do sometimes. This is the first Christmas it will just be the three of us, and I’m so excited to make it our own.

      Thanks for sharing this story. I love the part where your heart grew a size or two. Emma has grown mine. Or healed it, maybe.

      I’m interested to hear how your story plays out over the years. Those letters sound like something else. Have you kept them all? That kid is going to have the best stories!

      • jennie1ofmany

        We have all of the letters — G’s dad keeps them in a safe place, and G can look at them whenever, and of course will get to keep them.

        I love my family, and I love Red’s, and this year, everything has been negotiated with minimal stress so far, but I am allowing myself a moment of wistful envy that you’re able to make the day yours this year. I hope you all have a really lovely day together.

        G has never asked why he gets letters and his sister doesn’t (I’ll struggle with ink and dip-pens for Red’s kid, but not for the Ex’s!), so he may be wiser than we give him credit for.

        I’ll post photos to my FB when I’m at Red’s and can snap the letters. I’m pretty proud of them!

        • Shannon

          Oh. G’s baby sister is not your baby. Got it. I was a little confused that you’d write the letters for G but not your little. Hee.

          It’s funny that you envy me. I’m feeling a little sad that we’ll be just three. It already feels a little lonely here, I’m worried the holiday will magnify that.

          But you’re not the first person to say this sounds lovely, so I’m going to do my very best to savour it. To soak up Emma and some of the last years that she can’t get enough of us. And we’re going to be lazy and silly and extra snuggly.

          I look forward to your pictures.

          • jennie1ofmany

            We’re a funny little mostly blended family. If G’s sister were my daughter, she’d for sure get her own letter!

            I love my family, and I love Red’s family, and this year everyone’s being great about working around everyone else. Past years, when I had another set of parents to fit in and people were less obliging, were a bit stressful. Okay, a lot stressful

            In my ideal world, I have a big enough space, and everyone just come to us. Not gonna happen in this lifetime, though, so it’s up to me to learn to manage the family demands and deal with the stress.

          • Shannon

            Blended families can be so complicated. We had three of every holiday before things change. Craziness.

  • http://just-mum.blogspot.com/ Jessica @ Just a Mum?

    For some reason, we never even discussed it… Santa just was. Beege is seven now, and I’m pretty sure that she knows he’s not real. Both our girls wrote to Santa this year and got the exact same letter back from Canada Post, which she didn’t even comment on, except to say that hers had stickers on it. She is exactly the kind of kid who would pretend for her little sister, so as not to ruin it. I look at Santa as more of a fun story, than a lie. It’s not a cruel prank, either; it’s letting your kids be kids and believe in something magical.

    When I was a kid, and I found out the truth about Santa I wasn’t upset. Not in the least. I was actually pretty stoked that my parents had gone to so much trouble to make something special for us. That was the year that my parents started getting stockings from “Santa” too. We never had a big discussion, they just knew that I knew because all of a sudden, Santa remembered that they lived in our house as well.

    Since we had Beege, we’ve spent Christmas Eve and morning at our house. We order a pizza and watch a movie before bed, then we spend most of the next day in our pajamas. As low key as we can make it, really. I’m hoping that we’ll still be doing the same thing when they’re all grown up.

    • Shannon

      I’d be interested to know how many families that DO celebrate Santa discuss it? I’m guessing very few.

      I think, depending on how your kid reacts, it can be a cruel prank. It is pretty insane to really dissect the tradition of knowingly and purposefully lying to your very impressionable child.

      But… I still like Santa and I’d probably do it all over again. Maybe. It was pretty awful to see the betrayal Emma felt. She was mad for part of the night. I told her it was okay to feel mad. It’s great you didn’t feel upset, but that won’t be every child’s experience.

      I LOVE how you spend Christmas. That sounds so perfect. I want to create that this year.

  • http://finallymom.blogspot.com christina

    oh wow. this brought tears to my eyes.
    i LOVE the magic the Christmas season brings to children, including my own. i just can’t NOT do the Santa thing. i can’t. hopefully Lovie won’t be too damaged as a result. i suspect she won’t.

    you linking this up with YeahWrite 87? you should you know. :)

    • Shannon

      I think Emma was a little bit damaged, but I think we have enough relationship equity with her that our good intentions did some of the healing. I hadn’t thought of linking it up. It would need more work before I did that, I think.

  • Peach

    Oh, my heart broke so much for Emma. But I believe you handled it with grace and compassion, and that’s all any good mama can do. She’ll be fine, because she has you and Steve. For what it’s worth, I don’t even remember how I learned the Big truths… so I can’t be too scarred from it. :)

    Second the linkup hint to YeahWrite. You should!

    • Shannon

      It was super sad, Peach. I felt so terrible for creating something that would crumble. Watching it happen was heart-breaking. She’s okay though. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. Thanks for thinking I should link up. This is pretty rough. Maybe I’ll see if I can do some editing.

  • Marisa

    I’ve read those lists on why you shouldn’t lie to your kids about Santa but I fully intend to anyway. Yes, they might be sad when they find out but what about the sadness in not seeing any excitement in their eyes during even a handful of years? Christmas is magic for kids and I wouldn’t want to deprive them of that and that’s what I would tell them when they ask why.

    Although, as a godless heathen, I won’t be teaching my kid to believe in god, so I am also not stressed about trying to keep their faith in one made up being but letting the other one go. I figured out the santa game around 4 and god came secretly tumbling down shortly after that, although I stopped talking about it with my parents after a few years.

    • Shannon

      I get the decision to not do the Santa thing, it just honestly never crossed my mind. I have no idea what we would have chosen. I suspect Steve would have convinced me to go ahead with it. And I doubt it would have been a hard sell. My own experience was benign.

      Interesting that you kept the god tumble from your parents. For how long? They’re still god peeps?

      • Marisa

        I didn’t keep the god tumble from them, I just gave up arguing with them about it. They believe in god and don’t get that I don’t. It was mostly just a secret because I was still made to go to church for a while after that and I was pretty aware that the standard belief about people is that they believe in god and it’s just a matter of which one(s). So I didn’t go around telling my parents, my church, or the kids at school that I found their beliefs to be not real.

        I don’t know of I’d call them god peeps. I mean my dad is a lifelong philanderer and twice divorced and my mom is a socialist who hates conservative wackos but they both still believe in god, if not religion or religious practices. Conversations surrounding baptizing Clementine have been…shockingly entertaining.

        • Shannon

          You never did send me your old blog link.

          And you really should be writing, M. You’re stealing from the world when you don’t.

  • Jocelyn

    You’re a great mom, Shannon. This is very sad because the magic of her childhood is slipping away, and of course you want to hang on to it. Lying to them is a sacrifice we make to treat them to some magic.

    Poor Emma – it’ll be all right.

    I figured out the Santa thing when I was 4 (I recognized Dad’s handwriting on a ‘from Santa’ gift) and confirmed it when I was 5 (OH, in my mom’s voice; “IS THERE ROOM FOR MORE LICORICE IN JOCELYN’S STOCKING?) but they seemed to care about it so much I let them hold up the farce until I was older (9 or 10).

    It’ll be okay. Christmas will still be magical.

    • Shannon

      It marked time in the most bizarre way. It was the end of something I realized I really loved. She’s a pretty special kid. She’s already okay. We’ve laughed about it every day since.

      And you kept knowing from your parents. That’s really sweet. Totally fits with what I know about you. xo

  • http://lifeinarainbow.wordpress.com/ Kathy

    I have 3 kids. Now 22, 17 and 15.

    I could not ‘lie’ to the first one. I explained the meaning of Santa and how he came to be. He always had a gift or two from Santa, actually Ms Claus, and he never had much of an opinion, except with his friends in school, which he also understtod the meaning of Santa and why some people believe, so he was kind and thoughtful.

    The next 2, came along 5 and 6 years after the first. They believed. I lied like crazy. Tatyanah, now 15, told me she was so tired one morning at 4, because she worked with santa in his shop all night. Thats is where she is at night, so I must respect her when she needs a nap or quiet time. Jake was not being left out. He said he goes to and makes all the sound effects for toys, that was his job.

    This went on until Jake was 10, he started really questioning a lot, that was the year he did not write to santa, he said he did not go to the North Pole and the stories stopped. I lied one more time, I sent a letter in his stocking telling Jake that ” Santa missed him in the North Pole this year but loves him anyways and knows he is growing up”. He was so happy but he came to me and said, “Thanks mama, Taty is not ready to know yet”.

    Now they talk about their crazy stories and how much fun it was as kids.

    I think there is some kind of magic in believing and growing up.Precious memories. Also beautiful moments to cherish as they mature.

    Although I do hate all the BS crap people buy, We do stockings and 1 gift. Family knows we don’t want “stuff”. Usually they respect it!

    • Shannon

      I could never give up stockings. All the gifts, yes, but not stockings.

      I love this: “Thanks mama, Taty is not ready to know yet”.

  • Emily

    I think I was 6 when I realized that Santa’s writing was exactly the same as my mother’s. I was a little sad about finding out the truth, but I didn’t want my younger sister to find out, so I didn’t say anything, and I had fun knowing that she still believed in Santa. I don’t remember being traumatized, and I still enjoy Christmas, so it all worked out in the end.

    • Shannon

      I think most kids aren’t traumatized because they know their parents wanted to give them something special. As for the kids who are, I’d be interested to hear their stories.

      My mom has very distinct writing. I don’t think I noticed though. It’s not one of the things I remember.

      • Emily

        That was also the same year that I realized my mum had turned “29” AGAIN on her birthday.

        • Shannon

          For real?! I thought that was a movie thing. I didn’t know people actually did this. Funny.

  • http://livingoffscript.com Bee

    I found out when “Santa” used the same wrapper as my parents, too. Is this “telling kids Santa isn’t real” a new thing? My husband and I don’t have kids, but if we did I think Santa would be a given.

    • Shannon

      I don’t think it’s new, but I think it’s becoming more and more common.

  • http://www.mayorgia.blogspot.com Mayor Gia

    Awww, poor emma! She’ll heal. My sister told me the truth about santa when I was a kid. What a jerk.

    • Shannon

      I’ve had students ruin Santa for other students. It’s awful to witness. Kick your sister for me.

  • http://restraintunfettered.com emma

    I don’t get all the angst over telling kids the “truth” about Santa. We all grew up with him. I can’t imagine considering Santa a cruel prank. Olivia is 4 and I plan on keeping up the charade as long as she wants me to. I guess I have a few more years. My sister has a 10 year old and she’s pretty sure she’s got it figured out, but doesn’t want to talk about it. She’s not ready to let got of that part of her childhood. For me it’s all about magic and imagination, not lying. Encourage the kids to go on flights of fancy. Their brains will be bigger and more organized because of it. IMHO.

    • Shannon

      Flights of fancy. I like that. To each their own, I say. Tell or don’t tell. Just remember love the shit out of them doing it and they’ll be fine.

  • http://kristinhastwoeyes.blogspot.com/ Kristin

    What a tough momma moment. I think you handled it all very well. Emma sounds like a old soul. She accepted it and moved on. My husband and I agreed completely that we would not do the Santa thing. Our oldest is nearly 4 so I am not sure how it will all turn out. It was just too hard to answer her questions about faith in God and faith in Santa when she asked them at the same time last year. We tell her that Jesus is the real fun of Christmas and Santa is the pretend fun of Christmas. Ugh! Its hard to know…

    • Shannon

      She is a bit of an old soul, but still so much little at the same time. I’ve never met anyone like Emma.

      • http://kristinhastwoeyes.blogspot.com/ Kristin

        Motherhood is so bittersweet.

  • http://www.closefamilies.wordpress.com Laura

    Aww, that breaks my heart for you both! I dread this day too. We really don’t push the “santa” thing very much. We never say, “You better be good because Santa’s watching!” or such. I guess I want it to be a soft blow for my son when he finds out the truth too. I remember being in third grade and wearing a “I believe in Santa” sweatshirt that a boy in my class mocked and asked, “you don’t REALLY believe Santa is real, do you?”…….. “Psssh, no…” Not anymore. I struggle with this concept of “lying” too.

  • http://splatospheric.com MizYank

    This made me think back to when and how I learned the truth about Santa. I found out from other kids, and maybe my sister, and I mainly remember being mad at them for blowing it for me. It never occurred to me to be mad at my parents for keeping up an act. I thought it was sweet that they wanted to do that for us. I can’t believe I wasted a perfectly good opportunity to guilt the ever loving bejeezus out of ’em. Dammit!

    • Shannon

      Oh drat! That IS a missed opportunity. Maybe you could be retroactively difficult this Christmas? Like just have a random outburst during gift opening. Make sure someone is filming. Let me know how it goes!

  • http://www.changethetopic.com Birdman

    I’m the opposite. I want to tell them. So they can be informed and smarter than their friends. If I thought that I could get away with it, I would. I hate the holiday (The word makes me gag, so I try to avoid it.)

    Sincerely,
    Grinchy McPissypants

    • Shannon

      But you must love the time with your family and a reason to play and lay around in jammies and snuggle?

  • Mariesy

    I think that Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, author of “Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Lie To Your Kids About Santa” should take the same masters program as Olly. Young children live in a fantasy world of their own creation. It is their reference and how they view the world. Magic is a given. This is how the young mind works. The problem with adults is that we are too caught up in “reality” and in getting things done. We have forgotten that there is magic in the world just because we believe in it. Most of us have forgotten what is is like to be a kid. Santa is not a cruel trick unless you frame the entire scenario as a lie. When I discovered that Santa wasn’t real, I didn’t feel tricked or lied to. I felt the magic die. And since that magic has died, the world is much colder, more cruel place.
    Adults have so much to learn from children, but we are too caught up in thinking that because we are older, we know better.

    • Shannon

      “And since that magic has died, the world is much colder, more cruel place.”

      Sometimes I feel this too, and I think many adults do. It’s maybe part of why living Christmas through a Santa-struck child is so special.

      But I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom after Santa. There is magic in people coming together. Magic in love. Magic in friendship and community. Magic in pursuing dreams. Magic in freedom to choose and be and change.

      I agree that just because we are older, doesn’t mean we know better.

  • http://hellofisher.com Steve Fisher

    I have a friend who looks at life very differently than I do. If we were both to buy a lottery ticket he would believe that he won’t win. This way he can live with realism and not be disappointed when he doesn’t win the lottery. If he wins it is a great surprise. If I were to buy a lottery ticket I would live believing I am going to win. The fantasy of it and the excitement traveling with me everywhere I go, much like Santa did with me as a kid. In the end if I don’t win the lottery I do experience a small amount of time where I’m disappointed, but I have lived with the excitement so much longer.

    Maybe not a perfect example, but I’d much rather live with the joy and fantasy of hope and imagination than not. I’m sad for Em, but so much more excited that she had 10 years of joy and imagination.

    • Shannon

      I love you. For so many reasons. Your perspective is one.

    • Mariesy

      “Maybe not a perfect example, but I’d much rather live with the joy and fantasy of hope and imagination than not. I’m sad for Em, but so much more excited that she had 10 years of joy and imagination.”

      Oh so true Steve. I’m not a parent, but that is how I see it.

  • http://www.iasoupmama.com IASoupMama

    Last year, my oldest was six and still competely believed — poor kid had a panic attack because he thought Santa wouldn’t come if one of our infant twins was awake. We convinced him that babies were special and that they don’t remember seeing Santa, so he doesn’t have to wait for the to be asleep. He still had to sleep in our bed because he was so anxious, LOL!

    This year, he’s not anxious, but he had a bunch of questions about how Santa got mail if no one could see him (mailbox checked by the elves after the mail carrier leaves) and if we needed a street address for Santa or if The North Pole was enough. I loved his questions and think we’ve got this year yet. Maybe next year he’ll lose the magic — I don’t know…

    My five-year-old believes in more magic than any person I’ve ever known. I simply adore her for this.

    • Shannon

      This is so sweet. Emma became stressed about falling asleep in time a few Christmases, too.

      Part of the sadness comes in being SO close to one more Christmas with Santa. But it’s actually been kind of fun to live it openly with her this Christmas. Santa is still around, but we’re calling him love now.

  • Vanessa

    I think mine were around 10 when they stopped believing. We still do stockings and I still think they are enjoyed more than any of the other gifts, even if now they are toiletries instead of dinky cars and little lego sets.

  • http://samanthabmerel.blogspot.com Samantha Brinn Merel

    “But, what about that note she left the time her banker broke his leg?” You and your husband are awesomely creative for this note. Love it. Sounds like you guys have a really special relationship with your daughter. I’m sure that there was no lasting harm done by these revelations.

  • http://mutterschwester.wordpress.com/ Kristin @kdwald

    I didn’t grow up with Santa, but I knew many of the other people on my street got visits. The Christkind came to our house, and I still feel the awe and wonder I had as a child, waiting at the top of the stairs for her to finish setting up the Christmas room with my parents. I would never willing take that experience away from my children. Or the memories.

    We do the Elf on the Shelf now, and it delights my children. We also do Santa, since my husband is not a part of German traditions and we live in the USA. I don’t believe that children need to know every True thing in the world. I turn off NPR when they describe autopsies and mass murders in malls. My kids deserve to feel safe and feel a sense of magic before they learn the real deal. And that goes for the tooth fairy and Hallowe’en too!

  • Karen

    I can’t rember when I knew for sure that there was no Santa. What I can say is Santa came to my house until I moved out! I never asked my mom about him and I never wanted to know. I love the magic! I love believing in something that brings me joy. Not presents but joy. Santa always brought me joy. In the end my twelve year old must know the truth, but she has never asked and I’m ok with that. I think, like Emma did, my ten year old still believes! I have always told my kids if and when they stop believing in Santa he won’t come…. Maybe it’s selfish but I don’t care “the magic of Christmas “is something I still love and it still brings me joy. Anyone who disagrees can go ahead and judge. But I truly hope my kids will always enjoy the magic!

    • jennie1ofmany

      I do remember the year it snapped for sure.

      It was the year Santa brought golf clubs. For 10-year-old me, and for my little brother. I hated golf, but my parents wanted us to play* and we’d had lessons with borrowed, chopped down clubs. Now, inside the tantalizing, tall, skinny wrapped presents from Santa beside the Christmas tree (they wouldn’t really fit under it) were two tiny golf bags with four child-sized clubs in each, left-handed for me and right-handed for my brother.

      If Santa did exist, he was a jerk and even more in league with my parents than I’d ever suspected. Or maybe I’d been really, really bad during the year, without even knowing it.

      No. I hadn’t been that bad. And no self-respecting avatar of the Christmas spirit brings a kid something she hates, does he? The only entity who cared about golf was my parents. Other kids didn’t get stupid golf clubs. There was nothing in the mythology about the golf-club-making section of Santa’s workshop. Santa wasn’t a jerk. He didn’t make child-sized left-handed golf clubs, or small golf bags emblazoned with the “Wilson” wordmark. He just plain didn’t exist.

      That was the worst Christmas. Santa was dead, and I was going to have to golf more in the summer.

      * I do realise how horribly bourgeoise and privileged this sounds, and I apologise. I had a privileged and bourgeoise childhood, and I can’t really apologise for that at all, because I think my parents did their best to expose my brother and me to things they liked and felt were important, and I love my parents. I may just be a bit defensive about the golf lessons, though. :-P

      • Shannon

        Ha. Did you ever talk to your folks about this? Golf clubs. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!

  • http://www.snapsandbits.com Stacie @ Snaps and Bits

    It’s so funny how different kids react. My now 16yo figured it out when he was 5 and wasn’t really bothered. My nearly 9yo still believes (although I think he knows but is pretending b/c he’s worried he won’t get the Santa gift otherwise!). But to learn on Instagram? Boo!

  • http://www.lemondroppie.com Ginny Marie

    Oh, that darn technology!

    • Shannon

      It’s just bizarre!

  • http://www.mamamzungu.com Kim at Mama Mzungu

    I simply adored this post. So well told. We never struggled with this because I’m Jewish. My folks kept up the tooth fairy rouse, but someone I think we always knew it was my mom. The biggest mystery was how she never managed to wake us up.

    But I think what I remember most is not that my parents thought to trick us and then laugh about but that they spent a great deal of effort making something fun and magical for us. It’s why we all perpetuate the same myths for our own children. I hardly think it’s damaging. Sure, when they lie is exposed I suppose they feel a bit resentful and maybe foolish (though it sounds like your daughter was actually pretty proud of herself for figuring it out), but in the long run I think they love us for it.

    Just a terrific post!!

    • http://www.mamamzungu.com Kim at Mama Mzungu

      “ruse”

      and “somehow” not someone.

      It’s late here… ; )

    • Shannon

      I think you capture the reason behind the Santa Lie perfectly, Kim. And beautifully. Thanks for your kind words and for being here.

  • http://artsnark.blogspot.com artsnark

    wonderful post. Our son is 9 & we are all hanging onto Santa by a thread this year. Despite childhood’s traumas & dramas there really is a magic – in later years we are sometimes lucky to get a taste of it again. The Santa-myth (& others) lets us relive & share some of that joy and innocence we once had at our core… and now we world weary old-timers feel lucky when it comes again – or at least I know I do

  • cKB

    an interesting article on how Santa may have started.
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2004/nick.html

  • http://doesanyonecarewhatiwrite.blogspot.com Gina

    It’s so hard. My kids are old, 22 and 19, and right now I’m sitting in the chair where my daughter who was 11 at the time confronted me. They do have the pieces assembled before the big reveal, somewhat to their own dismay and they want to hang on, but there comes a time when the find out and hopefully from us. The magic is gone, the chapter is closed and it’s sad. The bright side is that the don’t hold it against you, they become fab secret elves for their younger sibs and they feel more grown up. This is the first reality they come to experience, their first bubble burst, but harsher ones follow. It’s all tough. You want to hang on to the magic for a long as you can.

    • Shannon

      Emma seems to be over it already. I think we’ll still manage to find some magic in being together, just the three of us, for the first time.

  • http://dishwaterdreams.com Lindsey

    I have really been thinking about this question coming up at my house. My oldest is 7 1/2 so the inevitable is coming. Thanks for the perspective.

    • Shannon

      Oooh. Maybe you’ll be lucky like us and have a good 3 more years!

  • http://michiganleftblog.com/ Kathleen

    You never forget the moment when you learn “the truth.” I found a Toys R’ Us bag hidden in my aunt’s closet. I felt like a wife discovering her husband was having an affair: betrayed.

    I had the same doubts you had about telling my kids the same lie, but I did. And you know what? I’m glad. We had a lovely ride on the Santa train. I wouldn’t trade a single memory. And I don’t think my kids would either.

    • Shannon

      The Santa Train really is a lovely ride. I’m glad we took it, too. Parents/Aunts seem to be terrible at good hiding places!

  • http://www.outlawmama.com Christie Tate

    I love this post and I love the detail…like the mandarin orange.

    • Shannon

      Thanks, friend!

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