On Easter Sunday, my eight-year old son confessed he’d seen my husband hiding Easter Eggs in the yard early that morning. “Is the Easter Bunny real?” he asked. For a split second, I considered perpetuating the illusion…
I could say we were helping the Easter Bunny. Daddy was just moving them around. Anything. But, I looked down at his sweet face and noticed how his cheeks have thinned and how wise his eyes were becoming and I told him the truth. “No, buddy. The Easter Bunny isn’t real.” The tears came. “You lied to me.”
Through sobs he looked at me and asked about the Tooth Fairy. I confessed again. Then he simply said two words: “Santa Claus?”
All I could do was shake my head no and hug him. I’d just ruined the most magical thing about childhood with two shakes of my head. My heart broke. I was not prepared for this conversation. Didn’t we have at least one more season of holiday cheer and magic ahead?!
I quickly came up with a plan to minimize the damage. I told him that he was now part of a very exclusive and secret club. He was now the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and Santa Clause. He couldn’t tell anyone! And now, he was the one who would spread magic and cheer – he would get to be Santa!
He wasn’t thrilled. He vacillated between the horror that he’d been lied to and, although he didn’t admit it, the thought that Santa might not bring presents to him. Then, he fell asleep softly crying and the conversation resumed the next day.
How did the elf move each day? We did it
Where’s the elf now? Not telling
Who eats the cookies? Daddy
Where do you hide the presents? Not telling
Are all the parents in on it? I’m afraid so
Do my friends know? I’m not sure, but don’t you dare say anything!!! Don’t ruin the magic.
Would He Ruin the Magic?
I told all our closest friends, in case he let it slip. However, I was most worried he’d tell his little sister. Until she lost a tooth. She bounced around telling us that the Tooth Fairy would be coming that night! She wrote the Tooth Fairy a note and slipped it, along with the tooth under her pillow. That’s when I realized that we didn’t have any cash lying around. I needed a dollar.
My sweet son snuck into his room, took a dollar bill from his piggy bank and brought to me. “You’re the tooth fairy, now!” I whispered. He beamed. (I paid him back, btw.)
This holiday season we intend to keep him in the spirit by letting him be Santa. The one condition is that he cannot tell anyone that he knows the secret. Now, he is the secret; he is the magic.
Ideas to Bring Back Some Magic:
- Let them move the elf for their younger siblings. I personally think the elf is a bit creepy and we often forgot to move him from night to night. This year, our son will be partially the responsibility of our son. He’s likely to be more creative, too!
- Adopt a family. Many churches and non-profits in town have programs where you can shop for others who may not have as much. Let your child choose the family and pick the gifts. Sign each one, Love Santa.
- Be a good neighbor. Have your child choose a neighbor and anonymously leave them a gift. This could be cookies and treats you have baked, a homemade gift, or something they have chosen that they know your neighbor might need or want.
- Volunteer. Colorado Springs has so many opportunities to volunteer, although many have age restrictions. As a family, you could help at Care and Share, the Marian House or organize a neighborhood clean-up through CONO. There are so many options. Better yet, spread the cheer year-round by making a commitment to volunteer once a quarter at the non-profit of your child’s choice.
- Practice random acts of kindness. Create an advent-style calendar with 24 random acts of kindness that each family member can accomplish daily leading up to Christmas. Some ideas: talk to someone new at school, pick up trash around your neighborhood, or write a note to a relative in another state.
I hope that my son will look back fondly at the excitement of Santa Claus. But I am even more hopeful he will relish his part of spreading the magic now that he’s Santa, too.