Disclaimer – To be safe, if you under the age of 12 please don’t read this. Or at least, get your parents permission first. And you really shouldn’t be on the internet without your parents permission anyway. And don’t do drugs and stay in school.
“I just want you to tell me the truth!”
“Mom – just tell me the truth!”
“I know he’s not real … just tell me.”
These were just a few things my son Evan said to my wife Julie the other night. More like passionately pleaded to my wife Julie. She said he almost had tears in his eyes.
Within the Christian community, I know there are some people who are anti-Santa. After all, you play Scrabble with his name and you get “Satan”. And most axe-murderers will tell you that their path to destruction all started because they were led to believe in Santa.
As you can probably tell, I’m not in the anti-Santa crowd. But I do respect those who choose not to include St. Nick in their celebrations. And my point in this blog is to not debate or sway you one or other, anyway. My point is that I grew up with Santa, Julie did, too. We haven’t had a faith crisis as a result of believing in Santa. We never had trust issues with our parents because they “lied” to us about the fat guy in the red suit and white beard. Again, that’s an argument someone else can have.
At some point you stop believing. I honestly can’t remember when or how this happened with me. I know it was relatively early in my life – maybe 2nd or 3rd grade? But it obviously was not traumatic, because I have no emotional scars. I’ve heard stories from other people that learning that Santa and the reindeer don’t actually bring the presents was a very difficult thing.
With both our kids, we always knew that with each year it could be the last year for Santa. If you’ve done the Santa thing – you know it’s fun. What’s not to love about lying to your kids and deceiving ‘em? Am I right or am I right? (that was sarcasm, by the way).
Evan is 11. For the last few years we kind of figured he “knew”, but was playing along. He’s asked questions for a few years now. Usually, Julie was the lucky one to be on the receiving end of those questions. To add a a degree of difficulty to the questions, he would ask in front of his younger sister – who couldn’t believe more in Santa if she were an elf!
His interrogation of Julie the other night was the latest inquisition. In the past, Julie would typically reply to him, “Well, what do you think?” He typically said he thought he was real or he wasn’t sure, but he rarely pushed it.
The other night was different. Julie said there was an urgency. She said it was his direct request to know “the truth” that killed her. With Olivia present, she said that they could talk about it another time. But in Julie’s eyes and heart – it was time.
That’s where Dad came in, AKA – “Santa Killer”. When I got home from work, Julie said, “You have to tell him. He was drilling me with questions last night in front of Olivia. When he gets home from school, you should tell him.”
Given that he is 11. Given that I’m sure the majority of his classmates “don’t believe”. Given his line of questions, I figured there might be some disappointment, but mostly a shrug of his shoulders, like – “I kind of figured.”
What happened? Well, it was like I killed Santa. It hurt and it hurt bad!!!!
“I really didn’t want to know!!”
“So he’s not real?”
“That was my favorite part of Christmas!”
“I’ve ruined Christmas! I wish I wasn’t so curious!”
For a few hours (yes, hours) there was some mourning. There was crying. There was a sense of loss. And if I could’ve taken it all back, I would have. It was heartbreaking.
Like a lot of things in life – we know, but we really don’t want to know. We thought he wanted confirmation that Santa wasn’t real; instead he wanted reassurance that he was. Because if we told him Santa was real, it was okay for him to still believe and enjoy the magic of Santa.
Because Santa is fun. There is something fun about the fairytale aspect to it. It’s fun for kids, but it’s fun for parents too. And so that’s why we also dreaded the day of no more Santa. That’s why there was a sense of loss for us, too. We know it’s just a matter of time before Olivia joins this club, too.
But here’s the cool thing Santa-haters … it did also provide an opportunity. Julie, the brains of the operation, swooped in when I was at a loss for words and reminded Evan – that Santa and Christmas trees and presents and reindeer are all fun, but Christmas has been and always will be about Jesus. That will never change. And we just don’t celebrate Him for a day or for a season.
So the other “stuff” of Christmas is fun. And yes, it can get out of balance or distract us. But the reality is we do things everyday that have the potential to get us out of balance or distract us – it doesn’t necessarily make those things bad. Birthday parties, movies, TV shows, people, work … everything … can take our focus off of Christ, but chances are you’ll still do those things. And that’s okay, unless they do take you some place you shouldn’t be.
As corny as it sounds, we really do need to “celebrate” Jesus everyday of our lives
Side-note for anyone who will ever have the “Santa talk” – having this kind of conversation is kind of like breaking up with someone. You really should prepare for anything. Will they take it well and be fine with just being friends? Or will they go completely psycho on you? You should be ready for both … just in case. Um, yeah. We thought a shrug … it was more like weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Oh … and think timing, too. I’m guessing this would have been an easier and better conversation if this happened on December 26th … or July 26th … or if someone else told him. You know, hear it on the streets. That’s what I’m planning on when it comes to the “birds and bees” conversation. I’m kidding. That actually might be an easier conversation, though.