Christmas is 52 days away. Yes I know this because my wife is already figuring out how many paychecks we have until then and trying to figure out how the hell we are going to afford it this year. My point being...Christmas is already being discussed in my house. We actually already had the kids make wish lists so we'd have an idea what is possible and what is absolutely not. Their lists were smart too. My girl actually wrote at the bottom of her list, "Not Likely" and followed it with items such as a cell phone, an iPad, and a laptop. She was close, although they actually fall under the category "Not A Chance".
When my boy started to think about what he wanted to put on his list, he asked me if he should write a separate list for Santa which is what we have had them do in previous years. That is for the larger, more expensive items. I told him to just write everything on the same one, or follow his sister's lead and add them to the bottom. This poses a dilemma that I have been dreading since we wrapped up last Christmas.
Santa Claus... A little background...
I believed in Santa with no question until I was about 12 or 13. My friends would tell me that they didn't believe or that their parents told them he wasn't real, but I held onto my belief. This was mostly because throughout the year, I knew that my parents struggled to make ends meet. I was the oldest of three and my best friend growing up was practically an only child as her sister was quite a bit older than her, and she was pretty spoiled. Whenever I brought up something that she had or that I wanted, I often heard "her parents don't have 3 kids, that's why they can afford it". However, on Christmas morning we would find gifts under the tree from Santa that I didn't think we could have afforded. This perpetuated my belief. Also, many times I heard that once you stopped believing, he would stop coming. So to ensure that didn't happen, I wasn't pressing my luck.
So one day my sisters and I were sitting in the car with our dad and my youngest sister asks him if Santa was real. She was about 8 or 9, I was 12 or 13. I can still remember wishing that my dad wouldn't answer her, because at that moment I knew. And he told us that Santa wasn't real, that it was them all along. I was so sad to hear that. Luckily, the Christmas presents continued and they still put "From Santa" on the tags, which I secretly loved.
Shell however, had a different experience. She found out when she was about 9 and was very hurt and angry that her parents had lied to her about Santa. When we first had the kids, she was against having Santa presents because she didn't want to lie to them and have them be hurt like she was. Fortunately, I won that battle but for the last 3 years she has really wanted to end the Santa charade. This also come from having less money to spend on gifts than we did when they were younger and having to pull off a big Santa gift along with gifts from us has been a challenge. I asked her to let the kids decide when to end it, that they'd let us know when they didn't buy it anymore. She didn't like it, but she agreed not to rain on their (and my) parade by telling them the truth before they were ready.
Prior to last Christmas, I heard rumblings between the two of them over the reality of Santa. I even heard my daughter tell my niece (who knows Santa is not real) that she heard if you stop believing than he stops coming and she didn't want to risk it. My niece was awesome and didn't spill the beans. So Santa brought them iPod's and they seemed thrilled and surprised, making me thankful we pulled it off yet again and a little sad figuring that it probably would be the last Santa year.
Which brings me to now, and my son asking about making a list for Santa. My kids are 12 now, and although this is about the age I was when I learned the truth I wonder if they really do still believe in the myth. I wonder if we should tell them the truth so they'll understand when they get less gifts this year. Will it make them sad to know the truth? Will it make them feel lied to? Will it take away the magic of Christmas?
To tell or not to tell...that is the question.