It was the moment I’d been dreading. Two years ago, my older son came to us one night with a half-grin and asked quietly, “Is Santa real?”
I’d been bracing myself for this. I knew it was coming. He’d hung on almost the whole way through elementary school (blessedly, his gang of friends at school were firm believers too.) But my son is a lover of science. He wants to know the intricacies of how things work. I knew that for him, that kind of fantasy and magic had an expiration date.
I also knew he was beyond the stock answers of “Of course he is!” or “What do you think?”. By the look in his eyes, I knew that he wanted us to give it to him straight. So I was ready. I didn’t want him to mourn. I didn’t want him to burst into tears.
And he didn’t cry. But I did. I was surprised by the swell of emotion, by the pain in my chest that marked one more disappearing piece of childhood. Sniffling, I started into the speech. I told him that Santa was actually inside all of us, that Santa was the true spirit of Christmas, that Santa was about giving to others and making others feel special. My husband and I told him how happy we were that now he could join us in being Santa too.
He smiled wide and gave us a big hug. And thankfully, he kept the secret safe.
The other day, it was just the two of us after school. Out of the blue, he said this to me: “I really liked the way you and dad told me about Santa. That’s how I’m going to tell my kids someday too.”
Like every other parent alive, I’m never sure if I say the right things. So it’s nice to know that every once in a while, I do.