I had to write this down last year because I knew I wanted to wait and share it this Christmas season. It was just too good. And too bad. It was all the wonderful awkwardness wrapped up in one conversation. Feel free to laugh at my expense. It’s okay, I’m a big girl.
No, I don’t want to forget what happened a few days after Christmas in 2014. It was a tragedy. A loss of innocence. At Christmas time in 2014, all my kids were believers in Santa Claus, to my knowledge. My oldest might’ve been playing us for fools but he never admittedly denied Santa’s existence. The younger two were all in. My daughter wrote no less than 5 letters to Santa that year, couriered by our elf, Henry, every time. She even had this to say to me about it.
C: “Mom, you know how I KNOW Santa’s real?”
Me: “How, honey?”
C: “You and Daddy would never get me that many presents.”
Me: Sigh. (feeling like a mean/good parent)
So a few days after Christmas, I’m getting my clothes on in my room and Caitlin walks in. She says, “Mom, what’s this?” She held out Kyle’s phone and on it I saw a picture of the parts to the basketball goal “Santa” brought. I had posted a picture of it on Instagram on Christmas Eve telling Santa he had his work cut out for him. Why do I always try to be so dang jokey?! So after I posted the picture, I deleted it off my phone because I DIDN’T WANT THE KIDS TO SEE IT.
Curses you iPhone with your Photo Sharing! Kyle would’ve had to delete it off his photo stream for it to be off both our devices. Curses!
There I am, frozen, not knowing what to do or tell my sweet, innocent daughter. So I did what any good parent would do. I turned the question back on her. I say, “Well, what do you think it’s a picture of?” So smooth.
“I think it’s a picture of the basketball goal we got for Christmas but Santa said he brought it. I asked Paxton and he said Dad put it together. So which is it?”
Craaaaaaap. She’s quicker and smarter than I give her credit for. Why couldn’t this have been Blake. Sweet Blake would’ve believed anything I told him. And Paxton? What the heck, dude? Why you gotta sell out Mom and Dad like that? PS when exactly did you quit believing in Santa? This would have been a vital tidbit of information to know. Being the good parent I am, I chose to, again, put the ball in her court. “Well, what do YOU think?” Like butter, I’m so smooth.
She looked at me with those big blue eyes and said, “I don’t know…that’s why I’m asking you.” My precious Caitlin, if only you had a better mother. A mother that had read one of the 537 ways to tell your kids about Santa. They’ve only been posted on Facebook and Pinterest a gazillion times. Better yet, I could’ve been a mother that came up with a clever/gentle way to break the news to her daughter that her parents have lied to her for her entire existence about the man in the red suit. If only.
As her beautiful eyes stared at me, seemingly burning a hole into my heart, I knew the jig was up. So with my head hung low and slumped shoulders, I just told her, “No, Santa’s not real.” Then I went into some blubbering about how there used to be a St. Nicholas and the spirit of giving and blah, blah, blah. The sad part was she knew more about the story of St. Nicholas than I did. I’m the most wretched mother in the universe.
C: “So you and Daddy give us those presents?”
Me: “Yes.” (shame,guilt,shame,guilt)
C: “Well then…who ate the cookies for Santa?”
Me: “Me.” (shame,guilt,fat,shame,guilt)
C: “What about the carrots?”
Me: “That was me too.” (So that was a bit of a fib. See, the carrots had been sitting out for a while so they got tossed in the trash. I just didn’t have it in me to break her little heart into more pieces.)
C: “What about Henry?”
(This was the nail in the coffin. You have to know that Caitlin and Blake were insistent on searching for Henry the Elf the minute they got out of bed in the morning. Caitlin wrote notes to the Elf, asking if he had a family and friends. Bless.)
Me: “No, honey, Henry’s not real. Me and Dad were the ones that moved him around at night. Why do you think there were some days he was in the same place as the day before? We forgot to move him.” It’s not like her opinion of me could get any lower so I just went ahead and ripped that bandaid off. Why oh why did God entrust these little people to me? I’m the worst.
As I’m sitting there with her wanting God to strike me with lightning before my daughter turns into a puddle of tears, Caitlin looks at me with a twinkle in her eye and asks, “Do the boys know?” That’s when it dawned on me. I had a shot at redemption. I had clearly underestimated her love of knowing things her brothers don’t know. I had found my angle. So I looked very seriously into her eyes and said, “No, your brothers don’t know. Only you. So this is a very BIG secret and a very SPECIAL secret. You have to promise not to tell them.” That child was beaming. “Ok, Mom, I can keep a secret.”
Then she went on her merry way. She now gives me little looks every time anyone mentions Santa. The girl loves keeping a secret from her brothers. I’m just glad she wasn’t completely heartbroken and mad about her parents lying to her for the last 8 years. She doesn’t seem bothered by it at all. I’m sure it’s one of those things that will come out later in counseling. Maybe I should go ahead and put my kids’ future counselors on my prayer list.
Update for 2015: Caitlin now hazes me about Henry the Elf’s hiding places. She passive aggressively comments on how “easy” he is to find then gives me a little look. Such a gem that Caitlin. I wouldn’t trade her for anything. She’s constantly keeping me on my toes.
Any of you have any funny Santa stories? If so, please share in the Comments section!