Most people remember when they lost the magic and found out the truth about Santa, but I wonder how many of you found out the truth because of this reason? Read on to hear out story.
First, I must admit as the youngest in my family, I don't remember the year I stopped believing in Santa. I don't even remember having the conversation with my parents. It is most likely that sometime before the age of 9 years old, my brother or sister declared the truth to me, and I wasn't too traumatized, since I have no memory of it occurring.
Yet, in typical fashion for my home, my children wouldn't let my husband and I off so easily. There had to be some drama and future therapy sessions in order for it to be holiday truth bomb in our home.
Not a Silent Night
It all started about two months before Christmas. Halloween was over, and all the kids were talking at school about Christmas coming soon. Our son was 8 1/2 years old and our daughter had only just turned 6 a few months earlier. We were getting geared up as Thanksgiving was approaching and all the decorations were out in the store. But, instead of a peaceful season, our son was struggling to sleep at night. T would wake up frequently terrified of noises he was hearing outside. Almost every night he'd wake us up and insist we join him in his room until he fell back asleep.
This wasn't the first time he'd been scared at night, but he was just so terrified, we had to find out what was different.
Finally, one night he opened up and told his dad that he was afraid someone was going to break into our house. So, we started to check all the doors at night before going to bed to show him he was safe. We hoped it would help, but nothing seemed to calm him down. Some nights he would stay up for hours, too afraid to fall asleep. Then we realized he was frequently asking questions about Santa and how he got into the house, how did we all stay asleep and how he could leave things for us. It finally hit us that T was scared of this strange intruder in our home! We did also remember that the past two years he had also been afraid to go to sleep on Christmas Eve!
At this point, the anxiety of a home intruder, even a beloved holiday icon, breaking into our home in the middle of the night was deeply disturbing to him.
We knew we couldn't let him go on believing Santa was an actual criminal trespasser, no matter how well-meaning. It was time for The Talk. We explained gently that Santa wasn't a real person but instead represented the spirit of giving. We shared that we are all Santa in our own way and that we can now be Santa to others.
Looking back, the toughest part of this decision was that we included T's sister, M, in The Talk. She was only 6 and we hated taking the magic away from her so young, but T isn't known for keeping secrets. So it hit her the hardest, and she immediately teared up. She then proceeded to inform us that lying is wrong, and we should have a consequence.
It was quite dramatic and quickly followed with questions about the Easter Bunny, Rudolf and the elves. Honestly, I think M was more upset about Rudolf's false identity than she was about Santa! To this day she insists that Rudolf must really be the real deal.
"Looking back, the toughest part of this decision was that we included T's sister in The Talk."
After the initial shock and anger wore off, I will admit the kids took it better than expected. Turns out they're perfectly happy accepting piles of presents from us without having to worry if they came from a home invader in a red suit. It's the best gift we could have given them, even if it means no more Santa!
Being Santa to Someone Else
Their favorite thing that year was picking out someone in need to become Santa for. We chose a neighbor who cares for others and does little for herself. We took her some of the things we know she enjoys and left them at her door as a surprise. The joy on the kid's faces reminded me how important it is to teach them about giving to others.
We often forget in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season that it isn't really about getting gifts for everyone on our list, being at all the parties, or even who Santa really is. It is actually about the joy that is the gift of Christmas, and that joy is Jesus. The ultimate gift for all of us.