I've noticed that Tink's pants are getting a little shorter. Her long sleeves are starting to creep up above her wrists. It happens when you have kids. You've no more gotten in the door with a new back-to-school wardrobe, and they've already gone up a size. But, this. This is different. Because she's not just growing. She's growing UP. And clothes aren't the only thing she's about to outgrow. It's Christmas. And I feel like I've been punched in the gut. Because I have started to realize...she's about to outgrow Santa.
For the past few years I've thought, "This is it. This is probably going to be the last year that both kids believe." Then we somehow squeak by without anyone blowing our cover. But this year I REALLY DO think it will be the last year she plays along. Maybe she already knows the big secret. I'm not sure that she would tell us if she did. But she hasn't said or done anything to lead us to believe that's the case. The only indication I've seen is that she's a little quieter this year whenever Dimples brings him up. She's 11 and in 6th grade, so I can only assume the cat's been let out of the bag -- or it's about to be.
I don't remember exactly when I found out the truth. I don't think there was ever an actual discussion. However it happened, I don't remember it being devastating. But I held on to the belief for a LONG time. My parents were exceptional at the Santa thing, and pulled off some crazy maneuvers. The most memorable was the year my sister and I so badly wanted a playhouse. And voila. Christmas morning there was a playhouse in the backyard. I swear TO THIS DAY that thing was not there when we went to bed on Christmas Eve. Who wouldn't believe after that? (So Mom, if this isn't the case -- don't tell me now. No sense in ruining that illusion at this point.)
I do remember wondering how it all worked. I remember thinking, "This seems impossible. These fools better tell me if there's really no Santa before I have kids so I don't look like a big jackass on Christmas morning wondering where the hell all the presents are." Maybe I didn't think it in those exact words, but close enough. I was starting to have some doubt. And I needed someone to level with me.
Is she wondering? Is she waiting on us to share the secret? Do we tell her? Charming says, "I'm not ready for that. Let's get through ONE MORE Christmas." Yes. Me, too.
Obviously, at some point I figured it out. She will, too. For the past eleven years it's been my turn to be Santa. Despite the last minute shopping and late night assembling and forgetting WHERE THE HELL I hid the presents (one day I'll learn to keep it all in one place), it is one of my very favorite parts of being a parent.
So, I will cherish this Christmas. I will do my best to keep my complaining about long lines and high prices and maniac shoppers to a minimum. I will not cuss at people while I'm driving through shopping mall parking lots (okay, you and I both know that last one's not gonna happen).
I feel pretty lucky that we've gotten this many years out of the jolly fat man in the red suit. I hope we still have at least a few more with Dimples. But, I know it won't be the same.
This train is moving fast.
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