A few weeks ago, when the word ‘Christmas’ started being banded about, my seven year old son wandered quietly into the room and sat down with me.
It was the kind of situation you find yourself in as a parent from time to time. The kind when you really don’t know what’s coming. It’s unsettling!
Eventually, our conversation went a little like this …
‘Is Santa real?’
Well. My heart broke a little bit. I knew that he knew, and my options were limited.
What was I supposed to do? Should I plaster on a smile, dish out a huge cuddle and lie through my teeth? Was he old enough not to be heartbroken by the truth? Where was this going to lead? Will I be confessing to being the Tooth Fairy within the hour?
I wished my husband was home.
I was tentative in my eventual reply. I asked, ‘What do you think?’
He looked at me, that wise little boy, and said, ‘Mum. You can tell me the truth, you know.’
So I did it. I bit the bullet and I told him.
I explained that Santa was a little piece of magic. That although he doesn’t exist in the way adults portray to children, he exists as an idea, a belief, a tradition. That the purpose of Santa was to make Christmas special for little boys and girls and to build up the excitement to the big day.
My son asked me if I was the one who bought all the gifts. Oh how I wished that he wasn’t so intuitive! He asked me practical questions like where I keep the presents and when I wrapped them. (At grandma’s and in the dead of night usually but I kept those two pieces of information to myself.)
He wasn’t disappointed. We talked about how he is going to be my helper this Christmas and how we will make it special for his four year old brother. We’re going to be doing ‘Elf on a Shelf’ together and think up silly things for our elf to do. He desperately wants to help me wrap gifts for other people though I drew the line at wrapping his own!
Finally, his questions were answered and his curiosity satisfied. He stood and turned to leave the room, but he had one last question for me…
‘Please can you check if the new Skylanders is out yet, Mum?’
I smiled, but I knew that at seven, the magical part of his childhood Christmases would always be a little bit tarnished.
Sometimes, they’re too clever for their own good.
We visited Santa’s grotto today. I was super proud of my grown up boy for going along with everything we did throughout the day. We exchanged a couple of knowing glances but he still told Santa what he’d like and happily accepted the gift he was given!
Written by our regular contributor Karen Hannah.
All views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Room To Grow.