Parenting Blog

Christmas In July

No more Santa

A couple nights ago, after I’d gone to bed, the Bear admitted to her mom, as they chilled out by candlelight on the new sofa we bought on a whim earlier in the week, that she knows Santa Claus isn’t a real dude.

Boom. It’s over.

She knows that no one can actually accomplish his job no matter how many elves are in his charge, no matter how fast the sleigh, no matter how magical the reindeer. It is ridiculous, and she knows it now.

She also finally knows why Christmas morning, the beautiful, mystical, exciting Christmas morning, is the one day of the year her early-to-rise dad can’t seem to get himself out of bed. Christmas Eve is rough, yo.

*****

The prequel to this late night conversation was a 7th grade project involving a Google search of your own name.

Vanity aside, that’s interesting modern school assignment. The Bear, instead of or in addition to a self-Google, Googled me. Gulp.

Those search results held her hand and walked her across a busy 6-lane super highway to a slew of stories I’d written and photographs I’d taken over the past decade of her life. She thought that search would yield more of her than a search of her name. She wasn’t wrong.

There’s nothing too objectionable on the internet under my name and that’s not an accident, but she did click through her father’s internet wormhole to find and read the opening paragraph of an article about the end of the Santa myth.

This all happened more than half a year ago. I had no freaking idea.

*****

I woke up the next morning to the news, quietly told to me in bed before the day began in earnest. I smiled. It was real. It’s all I could do.

The Bear wasn’t angry, hurt, scared or sad. That was my first and only question of my wife. I just wanted to make sure she was okay.

The Bear has simply learned something new, had it confirmed, and agreed to play along for the benefit of her sister. She had become one day older and wiser. Nothing else is different.

After years of holding on tightly to Santa with a vice grip, both her and her mom and I, we all let go of the balloon together.

The sky is still gorgeous and now our hands are unencumbered. We are happy.

*****

My 13-year-old and I spent a few minutes in the car together later in that day as we drove to Ikea to look for new furniture for her room. I asked if she was alright, to get confirmation direct from the source, and also if she was alright with what her mom and I did to make Santa happen and to keep him alive for her, for so long.

She nodded, took my right arm that always sits on our Sorento’s center console while I drive, pulled it close to her chest, and kissed the top of my hand while pressing it up against her warm, smiling face.

Neither of us said a word for miles.

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4 Comments

  1. Aww. Ya done good, Dad.

    Meanwhile, my kid demanded the truth on her 9th birthday, because she was sure she was old enough to handle it. Thankfully she took it in stride and we laughed about all the ways she had tested me. Asking Santa for a customized trophy for our dog (which you can buy online, thankfully). Asking Santa to take a drawing she left for him and leave it at her best friend’s house when he stopped at her house. This will be her first Christmas knowing the truth. She’s still not sure how much she’ll enjoy it, but I’m sure it’ll be fine. And I won’t have to stress as much on Christmas Eve when I’m doing the last minute wrapping.

  2. I’m sitting here crying already and I just got up.
    As a mom I know it will be okay, but as a Grandmom, it
    somehow seems sadder.
    Somehow I feel you will make it just as magical!

  3. Debbie, that lack of stress on Eve is going to be refreshing. We still have the Mouse believing, but Bear will now be able to stay up and help us which will be wonderful, to share the ‘being Santa’ experience with her.

  4. My bear, age 8 and 11 months, has known the truth about Santa for some time. We’re Jewish, it’s not our thing, and when he guessed it after seeing 15 or 20 “santa’s” in various malls, we didn’t feel the urge to keep it “magical.” He does still (I think) believe in the tooth fairy. (We’ve had several tooth fairies in various different states,with different handwriting, etc.) He also believes in the Switch Witch, who takes away your Halloween Candy and leaves a toy.

    So go figure.

joc