True lies we tell our kids: Santa stories

By | December 1, 2013

The laws of mommy karma stipulate that judging other moms will come back to bite you in the nether regions. Every. Single. Time. Once upon a time, I thought that moms who deprived their children of the Santa experience because they didn’t want to “lie” to them had their panties, bras, socks, and other assorted undergarments in an unusually gnarly wad. So I’m really not surprised that, now that my kids are a little older, I feel my nose growing just a tad every time we talk about Santa. Karma never forgets.

I still can’t quite wrap my brain around tossing out the whole myth on that count. It’s really no different than promising your kids you will always keep them safe. Although most moms would lay down their lives to do so, we know it’s not always possible. But we tell the lie anyway so that they can be children.

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But just as children must eventually learn that the world is not always safe, they must also learn the truth about Santa. I broke the news to my oldest, who’s 10, a few weeks ago. He has some anxiety/OCD issues and had become fixated on being on the “naughty list”. I had to tell him the truth to get him unstuck. He took it pretty well and has now decided that getting to help be Santa for the other two is even more fun than believing.

And it is with those two that my problem lies. They’re 7 and 8, and they ask very pointed, logical questions about how the whole Santa thing works. And answering those questions feels very much like lying. I honestly answer their questions about the workings of the world on other topics. We’ve discussed racism, slavery, poverty, the uglier parts of world history, etc. I’ve promised that I’ll always either answer truthfully or tell them we’ll discuss it when they’re older. And yet I make up crazy, convoluted stories to explain how that damn Elf transforms from a stuffed animal into a magical elf who can make it to the North Pole and back every night or how Santa can get into houses that don’t have a chimney. Or houses with motion detectors. And I hate every minute of it.

But is that enough reason to stop the fun? I remember when I found out about Santa (my mom asked me to close the trunk of the car for her, and I saw our “Santa” wrapping paper from the previous Christmas), and it never occurred to me that they had lied to me. I appreciated all the trouble they had gone to just to give me those few years of magic. Which leads me to believe that telling them the truth about Santa just to ease my conscience would be more for myself than for them.

What about you? How have you handled the Santa thing as your kids have gotten older? Was there a point where you felt like you were lying? What did you do, and how old were your kids when you did it? I’m really struggling with this and would love to hear from you.

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