The one where my kids ask me if I believe in Santa...

>> Tuesday, 4 December 2012

A couple of evenings back, whilst eating dinner with Boys #1 and #2...

Boy #1: "Mum. Do you believe in Santa Claus?"

Oh. My. God.

This is it.  This is the moment when all the carefully constructed lies come crashing down around my ears.  

I should clarify here; I am just about positive that if we lived in the UK, Boy #1 - now aged 9 - would no way believe in the Big Man. But we don't live in the UK.  And it's a well known truth in the expat community that children who live this protected, cossetted existence, often believe in Santa for longer than they do back home.  My son, sensitive, thoughtful and wanting to take things on face value, is one of those.

So.  What to tell him?  And before I share my reply, please take into account the following:

1.  My younger son - Boy #2 - was also sitting trustingly at the table, agog, and waiting for my answer..

2.  Both Boys were - in addition to eagerly anticipating Christmas - very much looking forward to a visit from The Sint on December 5th.  
3.  Deny Santa Claus, and the whole edifice - Sinta Klaas, the Tooth Fairy, elves, peace on earth - it all comes crashing down.
4.  Deny Santa Claus and there is a good chance that what I wrote about here - when a friend's husband became persona non grata in his neighbourhood for spilling the beans on the Santa Myth to his 8 year old son - would happen to me.

It was, in parenting terms, one of those 'life flashing before your eyes' moments.  I tried to buy myself time by asking why he would ask this question (friends at school had prompted him to), and what he thought (why yes Mum, of course I believe*), but we both knew I was putting off answering him.  So finally, I screwed my courage up and answered him fully and frankly.

"Well.  I believe in the Spirit of Christmas.  And isn't Santa Claus the embodiment** of that?"

Alright - I fudged it.  But he and his brother seemed satisfied with that answer, so come on: how would you have answered?

*What self-respecting child would answer otherwise given that replying in the negative might mean no fully stuffed stocking on Christmas morning?

** Yes, I admit it.  I was banking on the fact that 'embodiment' was not a term either of my sons would have come across before, so they wouldn't be able to tell just how much I was fudging the issue...


manycoloured-days 4 December 2012 at 18:35  

A friend of mine had just posted this before I came to read your blog.

A friend of mine who is an ESL teacher just posted this on fb.

'Was reading "Christmas Time" by Gail Gibbons to my ESL 1st grade reading class. When I came to the side by side pictures of Santa Claus and Saint Nicholas one of my students told me with a frown that was not what Santa looked like! I said,"Oh, so what does he look like?" With wide eyes she replied, "I not know, I sleeping!"

May they believe, always.

Expat mum 4 December 2012 at 19:15  

I'm wondering what this 9 year old will do this Christmas. My mother says he still believes as she watched a Xmas movie with her and was answering a lot of her "test" questions. We'll see.

Iota 4 December 2012 at 20:10  

I was re-reading your post about Santa arriving from Spain with an entourage of black elves. I suggest a trip to Spain. If you find Santa, it proves he exist. If you don't find Santa, you can always tell them you must have been looking in the wrong bit of Spain.

"Embodiment" was quick thinking.

MsCaroline 4 December 2012 at 21:53  

When the boys were young, my response was always that I had found that people who did not believe in Santa did not receive anything from him, so I *chose* to believe in him(or his spirit, as you said.)

Potty Mummy 5 December 2012 at 06:19  

MCD - yes indeed.

EPM - it would be an interesting comparison; Moscow & Chicago...

Iota, sounds like the perfect excuse for a trip to Spain!

MsC - but how young were your boys when you said that to them? (Just wondering how long I can get away with it for)

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