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“You Ruined My Childhood”: Having the Santa Talk

He’s 11. For 11 years he went on whole-heartedly believing in Santa.

It happened for my son out of the blue on an October day. It wasn’t even the Christmas holiday season, but for some reason, his curiosity had been triggered. He looked at me with his giant inquisitive eyes. “Do you move the elves?” He asked about our elves on the shelf.

I was at a point in his life when I had to decide. Would I still deny and deflect, as I had been fervently doing for the past few years, or was it time for “the Santa talk”?

As I started to tell him the truth, he smiled widely, but his eyes were filled with panic. He chuckled nervously. “Wow, I think that just ruined my childhood.” 

“Are you okay?” I asked him. “Because you don’t look okay.”

Still smiling, he said, “I think I want to cry.” He dropped his head into my chest and sobbed.

I cried right along with him.

“You Ruined My Childhood”: Having the Santa Talk

I’m someone who passionately loves the holidays: the magic, the wonder, the spirit that comes along with the tinsel and lights. It was omnipresent my entire childhood. I even considered myself an agnostic believer for the longest time. I didn’t necessarily believe, but I was too afraid to admit I didn’t on the off chance it was actually real.

I can’t even tell you when I started questioning Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and all other magical things. There wasn’t an exact moment in my life when it happened. I silently slipped into my own state of understanding as I eased from my childhood to adolescence.

Part of me hoped my children’s moment of realization would go a little something like that.

I wasn’t so lucky.

To me, it was as if I’d had this precious gift all these years I’d worked so hard to nourish. And just like that, it was gone. Shattered all around both of us. Because tapping into one truth meant debunking all the fallacy I’d pedaled.

I realize he and I both had been gifted a great deal of time together with the magic. Only a few years ago, I realized that his time fully enveloped in belief was growing thin. I knew this day was bound to come eventually. Regardless of all that, I still wasn’t prepared.

There is a silver lining I hadn’t thought about before, though. Having the Santa talk means that now, he can help me with the Christmas shenanigans. He gets to help me move the elves around the house and create fun and exciting mischief for them to get into.

And I think there’s something exciting to him about being behind the scenes. Something about it makes him feel like a magician who knows how the trick works, and he gets to somehow entertain the masses with the magic.

I guess that means he gets to live the magic of Christmas still, just a little differently than he did before.

Have you had “the Santa talk” with your kids? How did it go?


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