Last night, I sat across the dinner table from my ex-husband, flanked by both kids, and braced myself for the tremendously difficult conversation that followed.
He and I discussed this a long, long time ago, anticipating the sadness sure to accompany this dreaded day. Our kids, blissfully unaware of what we were about to tell them, would never be the same once we adjourned from our family meeting. We couldn’t unring the bell. There was no turning back. They were nearly teenagers, and deserved to know the truth. Cringing, and admittedly a bit teary, struggling to find the right words, we could no longer keep up the charade.
“Kids,” my ex began, in that calming, yet matter-of-fact, Canadian way, “you know there’s no such person as Santa, right?”
I. Thought. I. Might. Die.
I get it, anyone with little kiddos sees this day on the horizon long before it happens, including me. But, like most things, and in true “us” fashion, we procrastinated the HELL out of this whole Santa business, and leveraged it to our advantage year after year. The idea of blowing up an integral part of their childhood just seemed…I don’t know, WRONG. Like, SO wrong. And mostly because this meant something more than just realizing their presents come from Amazon instead of some cockamamie workshop in the North Pole, which my son always questioned how the heck elves know which circuits to put where in the XBoxes and do they have an electronic assembly clean room there, but this was a sign of our surrender to time and its ever present campaign to steam roll right over us long before we’re ready to accept the new now.
Our kids, who now are closer to the age of high school graduation than they are from their Kindergarten graduation, and holy shit, THAT’S quite the realization to have after only one cup of coffee, who now entertain prospects of their future lives, and college locales, some of which aren’t even in this country, and their passions for music and math and ridiculous puns, are growing and changing and maturing and will someday be on the other side of that graduation curve, marching off to the next chapter of their lives and out of our hands, which we can only clench together and hope that we did our best.
Yeah. You can say this Santa business sent me reeling.
Max was the first to answer when his Dad asked the pointed question. “I’ve had doubts for a while,” he said, “but I didn’t want to say anything.” Sara laughingly denied it, while side eyeing her brother, a sure indicator she knew the jig was up. We talked about how although the man isn’t real, the magic lives on, and how it’s our job to believe in the message of doing good things without the expectation of anything in return. They eventually finished dinner, the conversation turned to another, less charged subject, and life went on.
There you have it. It’s our first Santa-less Christmas, so if you ask me why I’m HEAVING while watching The Polar Express on Christmas Eve, you’ll understand why the only response you’ll get is a projectile dirty tissue and maybe a middle finger. Happy Holidays!