I have may have mentioned previously that I have a 9-year-old daughter. She is still a professed Santa-believer (though we have serious doubts she is really 100% on board vs. afraid of how things might change). My husband and I have had frequent talks about how to have “the talk” with her about Santa and when we should have that conversation. We have (maybe out of avoidance) opted to wait for her to come to us. We answer any question she may have, but are not seeking her out to burst her bubble. We’ve come close a couple of times. She has come to us in previous years and shared what a friend has told her about Santa. We’ve never “lied” exactly, but we have sugar-coated the truth, each year coming closer and closer to confessing.
The most recent conversation had to do with the Easter Bunny. We were sitting at Easter dinner at my husband’s restaurant (he had to work that year, so he wasn’t at the table – lucky Bastard to avoid this conversation). We’re eating dinner, having a wonderful afternoon. Imagine us, surrounded by families and enjoying a delicious meal when my 9-year-old looks up at me with her huge hazel eyes and asks, “It’s really you and Daddy who put out my Easter basket, right?” I nearly choked on my dinner! She’d be an amazing detective – totally blind-sided me and caught me unprepared. What does a psychologically-trained professional like me do? Once I could breathe again, I said, “Why don’t you ask your father.” Seriously? Why don’t you ask your father? I totally dropped the ball (and then punted it). As far as I know, she never asked him.
Well, this year we know we are living on borrowed time. She is 9, almost 10. She isn’t asking us, but is making end runs at other trusted adults in her life. Just two days ago, she was in a dance class with her most trusted dance teacher, the divine Miss Erin and slyly asked about Miss Erin’s Elf on the Shelf and whether she moves it for her kids or if the elf moves on its own. This amazing lady reiterated what we had always told her – something about Christmas magic – and Charlie moved on. So, I know it is coming. What am I going to do?
I have decided to be honest. There are letter suggestions out there (http://www.pinterest.com/pin/163959242659866164) and I love, love, love the sentiments of this letter and will include many of them when I finally have this conversation. I will not be writing her a letter (though this definitely appeals to my desire to avoid a potentially uncomfortable, awkward, sad conversation). It is important for me to tell her that Santa is about the spirit of Christmas and even though (spoiler alert) Moms and Dads tend to buy the Santa gifts, Santa is still about the magic of the season. I would stress the importance of allowing the spirit of Santa and Christmas to remain alive for others. (Unlike my older sister who blew the secret when I was only four – I still bear the scars of that psychological trauma). I will explain to her that, like Spiderman, with great knowledge comes great responsibility – she is responsible for allowing the joy to continue for other kids.
Now comes to million dollar question – when am I going to tell her? Well, I am defaulting to “the next time she asks”. I have a strong suspicion she already knows (or at least has a significant gut feeling), but I will allow her to address this as she is comfortable. I don’t feel it is my role to push her to believe or not believe any more. I am going to support her wherever she is and answer her questions as they are posed. The selfish part of me is hoping it isn’t for a couple more weeks – I would love to have one more Christmas with Santa intact.