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My kids don’t believe in You-Know-Who anymore, but I still do

I’ve been deluding myself into thinking that my youngest, at age 10, still believes in The Big Man. So why am I having such a hard time coming clean with her?

I don’t believe in lying to my children, but like so many other parents I’ve been perpetuating the Santa (And Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy) mythology since my toddlers were toddling. My older kids found out on their own through logical deduction — I mean, how can anyone deliver billions of gifts all over the world in one evening? — but they have kept the secret hidden from their younger sibling for the last few years. We hang the stockings, and leave out the milk and cookies and threaten bad behavior and unmade beds with Santa Claus is watching. I wrap presents in secret and quietly place them under the tree on Dec. 24 and make excellent excuses for why Santa has to sometimes borrow wrapping paper from Mom and Dad, which is why some of the gifts are wrapped the same way. But yesterday I received a text from one of my best friends who informed me that my child had informed her child of the same age, along with some of their peers, that Santa Claus doesn’t really exist.

My kid, who until yesterday, I believed was the most Santa-believing believer in all of Whoville.

Who was I kidding?

Of course my kid doesn’t believe. And my friend’s kid doesn’t really believe either. These kids are all ages 10 and 11, and we are all deluded if we think our kids still really, really believe.

When I asked my own kid about this, she denied involvement in the busting of the Santa myth, but confessed she may have gone along with her friends in order to not be called a baby. A baby? She’s not a baby! I’m a baby because the idea that my kid knows the truth about Santa makes me feel like a baby!

I’m not ready to give him up yet.

I know the magic of Christmas isn’t really Santa. It’s the love we feel for our family and friends and being able to give back to those we love, and those in our communities. It’s buying an extra toy to put under the Giving Tree and donating warm coats and gloves to homeless shelters and spending time with family. Having kids who still believe makes the whole season more fun, sure. It’s magical to see the wonder of Christmas through the eyes of your children and to let go of this magic means we all have to admit that not only are they growing up, but we are too.

I guess I can stop hiding that stupid elf. And waiting until I’m exhausted after a few glasses of wine on Christmas Eve to put the gifts under the tree. Next year I probably won’t buy a single toy and it will all be clothing and perfume and electronics. Maybe I won’t even leave out cookies.

I’m going to miss Santa. I’m going to miss my kids waking up on Christmas morning and how excited they were and how they acted thrilled when they saw a mall Santa and how they would give me their wish lists to mail.

I’m going to miss the sense of awe and wonder that only comes with childhood and the desire to believe in magic. I’m going to miss seeing Christmas through the eyes of my kids.

Sure, we will still celebrate and I will still make them watch A Charlie Brown Christmas with me and we will still bake cookies and I will probably always make them stockings, but it just won’t be the same. We can donate more, volunteer more, focus more on giving back than getting from the Big Man. That’s more magical than any guy in a red suit and sleigh anyway.

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