“Mom, tell me the truth, is Santa Claus real!?”
I hear this question from my son, Romeo, as he is sitting across the dinner table staring into my eyes. I can see the loss of innocence creeping in. I knew this day was coming…
My response: “Well, what do you think, Romeo?”
“This kid at school said Santa Claus is just a man in a costume with pillows in his shirt, so is that true!?” he said with his arms folded across his chest.
“Romeo, Santa Claus is not real. I am sorry for not telling the truth, but I wanted you to be able to enjoy a holiday tradition that I experienced when growing up,” I said with a pain in my chest and sincerity.
“Wait… so every year when I made the cookies, YOU ate them all… AND YOU DIDN’T GIVE ME ANY!?” he said with an inquisitive stare.
At this point, I am confused because he was not worried about Santa Claus being fake, he was more concerned with the fact that I never shared Santa’s cookies with him.
“Yes, Romeo, I ate the cookies, but moving forward we can bake and eat them together. It can be our new tradition.”
I have dreaded the “Is Santa Real?” conversation for years and years because a part of me felt really guilty for this blatant lie that I told my child just so he could experience what I thought was the innocence and wonder of the holiday. The tradition of believing in Santa was very important to me as it is to many moms. However, the day has come to tell the truth and I wanted to share three lessons learned that I hope will help moms who are approaching this day as well.
Lesson 1: Be Honest
One of the most important values to me is integrity and it is a value that I use to lead our home. Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. Believing in Santa Claus is not a bad thing and we, as parents, should not beat ourselves up about encouraging our children to believe and have imagination (which are amazing traits that will carry them far by the way). It’s perfectly okay to encourage wonder but I do believe that when a child asks you a question, its best to be as honest as possible with the answer. I could have easily said, “Yes, Romeo, Santa Claus is real, those kids are crazy,” just to keep his innocence and mind believing for another year or two but who would it have benefited? Whenever Romeo asks me a question, I always strive to be as honest as possible and to guide by the principle of integrity.
Lesson 2: Establish New Traditions
Romeo discovering Santa Claus was not real felt as if I lost my little baby boy and that he was now considered a big kid. I wondered if he had lost his sense of imagination and wonder, but I had to wipe those thoughts from my mind. In order to think more positively about the situation, I realized removing Santa Claus from Christmas allowed room for new traditions. Now I can use this time to educate on the history of Santa Claus and how he gave gifts to those in need to show the love of Christ. We also can start our own traditions of exchanging gifts, baking and eating cookies together, and volunteering in the community for those in need during the holidays. Celebrating cultural traditions such as Kwanzaa and others can bring such a powerful impact during this transition from Santa-mas to Christmas.
Lesson 3: Celebration is Key!
The biggest lesson learned is that Christmas will no longer be as difficult anymore now that your little one knows who really supplies the gifts. No more trying to get them to bed early and stay up late putting the presents under the tree, eating cookies and leaving crumbs, tracking snow boot prints from the fireplace to the tree, or leaving a trail of carrots outside for the reindeer (YES! I did all of that to make Christmas EXTRA special!) No more! Christmas can now be about the real reason for the season!
I know this can be a tough conversation, but you will come out so much stronger on the other side. You are the best mom that your children could ever ask for and this honest conversation is the first of many! Happy Holidays, Mama!
Read more of Georgina’s contributions to allmomdoes here.