Photo Credit: A. Skelley/Blend Images/Getty Images
My daughters are six and eight, and every year around this time I hold my breath, waiting for them to call me a big, fat liar. You know, on account of Santa. I am not just being dramatic here. When my niece found out, that’s exactly what she called my sister. She sobbed for days and wouldn’t speak to anyone in the house, except to call them all liars.
When you think about it, it is odd to be blatantly deceiving your kids year after year in the name of "holiday cheer." (And I'm not alone here: Three-quarters of parents said their kids still believe in St. Nick, according to a recent iVillage poll.)
There are all of those "Santa's watching" taunts (never mind the Elf on a Shelf) and the crafting of elaborate stories to explain how the big guy gets into their cousin’s house since they don’t have a chimney and why Santa needs flying reindeer if he has magic himself and how all of those presents can fit in one sleigh ("It’s a huge sleigh! Like, the size of Costco. Bigger than Costco! I don’t know how eight little reindeer can pull it, okay? That’s the magic of Christmas!")
Then there are the endless details -- deciding what presents get wrapped in Santa's special secret wrapping paper and making sure that gift tags are written in Santa's special lettering.
Last year, I was sure the charade was officially blown. We had done the obligatory trip to the mall to have their picture taken on Santa's lap, and the next day we were invited to a holiday brunch. We had no idea "Santa" was going to be there, but lo and behold he hustled merrily in just as dessert was served.
"What’s your name, little girl?" he purred when my then seven-year-old climbed onto his lap. Naturally, she looked at him like he had six heads because Santa didn’t even know her name?! She’d been under the distinct impression that the man practically never took his eye off of her. Nevertheless, she composed herself enough to whisper her name.
"And what would you like for Christmas?" Santa inquired. She looked at me and then back at him and replied incredulously, "I just told you yesterday."
Still, she continued to believe. And when her six-year-old sister wondered aloud this year, "How did daddy know our bikes were expensive anyway? Those were from Santa." She saved me from yet another lie by replying "Well, they sell a lot of the same stuff that Santa makes in stores, so dad knows how much they could have cost." Good one, kid.
I was hoping that maybe she was really onto us and was just trying to milk it for as long as she could, but she shot that theory down hard last night.
"I want earrings just like Selena Gomez has for Christmas," she announced as I tucked her into bed.
"What do they look like?" I tried to ask casually.
"It doesn’t matter, mom," she responded. "Santa will know."
As much as I’ve enjoyed the whole Santa-sham and as sad as I’ll be when the bubble finally bursts, I have to admit it’s going to make a lot of things easier. Plus it’ll be nice to have the kids know that it's Mom and Dad they should be sucking up to for all of that loot, and not some strange chubby old guy they see once a year.