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How not to tell your kids Santa isn’t real

When your mom crushes your dreams ... .

When your mom crushes your dreams … .

I was driving the kids home Tuesday night, concentrating on the road and half-listening to Bodacious tell her big brother all about her day.

They were talking low and sweet, and I was congratulating myself on my superb parenting skills. I was so busy patting myself on the back that I didn’t really hear what Parksalot asked me from the dark corner of the backseat.

“Mom. Did you know, there are some kids in my class that say Santa isn’t real?”

What I did hear was the voice of Robot from one of my favorite TV shows, Lost in Space.

“Danger, Will Robinson, danger!”

I tried to buy myself some time.

“What do you think?”

“Welllll,” he draws things out real slow when he is trying to decide if he should be honest with me, “I’m not sure. I don’t think so. He’s kind of like a reverse robber. Who breaks into a house to leave things?”

His sister is a quick-draw with her opinion however.

“No. I don’t think he’s real at all.”

I explained all about the Greek St. Nicholas and Kris Kringle and baby Jesus and said that in America, we roll them all into one at Christmas. What I want them to know about Christmas is that Christ was born for our salvation and that presents are good, as long as we remember that giving to others with happy hearts is the most important thing.

We picked our family Christmas charities, an animal shelter and a children’s mission project, and everyone seemed satisfied and happy. As I pulled into the driveway, I though, huh. That was a lot easier than I thought it would be. More self-congratulations were called for!

“Mom. If Santa isn’t real, what about the elves?”

“Well what do you think, Son? If Santa isn’t real, why would the elves be?”

I expected that tidbit to slide down just as easily.

Instead, the faint rustle of Robot’s flailing dryer vent arms could be heard, just before Little Son burst into tears.

John Cena, our naughty elf, loves to slide down the stair banister!

John Cena, our naughty elf, loves to slide down the stair banister!

“Wha-wha-what about John Cena?” he asked. John Cena is our damnable Elf on the Shelf. I hate his sweet plastic face and weird felted body. I especially loathe having to come up with bits of mischief for him to get into each night when all I really want to do is go to bed. It’s all hands on deck if John Cena wants a rodeo in the living room. Don’t forget about the time John Cena decided to ride a large glittered reindeer through the kitchen, leaving a helluva mess on the counters and floors. Y’all know glitter doesn’t come up, it just scatters from room to room leaving a sparkly trail of crafts-that-were.

But these kids of mine enjoy every cut glass bit of it. They love when we moan about the mess he has made, they love to hunt for him in the mornings before school and Bodacious in particular relishes chastising him for his creativity when it involves re-dressing the tree in sock and underpants.

It’s dawning on me that I greatly underestimated how much my kids love him and all the elves we call on the North Poll Communicator toy each year. I was not expecting to crush  souls that day but I didn’t know how to get out of it.

I was literally stammering when Bodacious began to apply this new-found bit of information down the line.

“Does that mean mermaids and fairies aren’t real, too? I haven’t even lost my first tooth yet!”

Sobs seemed to ricochet in the garage, and The Hubs is walking up the driveway wondering why there is a complete family meltdown in progress.

He is on the phone with someone from his office and I am shooting him the “get off the phone NOW” look. I am making no attempt to quiet the kids so he’ll get a taste of the rising panic.

We squeeze into the laundry room, kids wailing and trailing behind. I’m trying to explain the mess I’ve made.

We get into the kitchen and the kids look so pitiful, all red- faced and snotty. I feel awful. I didn’t mean to kill all the magic in their lives in one fell swoop! I do not know how things spun out of control so quickly.

Bodacious looks at her dad, all accusingly. “I know it’s you! You are the one that gives me presents and eats all the cookies!”

The Hubs just looks at the kids and in his deep, resonant, most fatherly voice says, “Kids that don’t believe in Santa don’t get presents.” Unflinching eyes on them, he waits the space of two heartbeats. “Now, who believes in Santa?”

A chorus of “me, me, me” can be heard through the house. All tears have magically dried up and they are smiling. Talk about a Christmas miracle! Thank you sweet Hubs, that was a great gift!

Well now, time to get busy! Where did I hide John Cena? He makes his debut after Thanksgiving you know, and I’ve got a brand new tube of glitter with his name all over it … .

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