The secret is out.
It all fell apart because I am a terrible tooth fairy. I ran out of reasons why the tooth fairy hadn’t picked up the tooth in exchange for a coin. I sat down on the edge of my youngest daughter’s bed and she began her interrogation.
All the childhood myths collapsed in an intense 10 minute conversation. I had spent a decade building this house of cards and in a moment, it all came tumbling down.
Are you the tooth fairy? If the tooth fairy isn’t real, then is the Easter Bunny real? Wait, if you are the Easter Bunny…what about…Santa?!? Are you Santa Claus?
I have faced this question a handful of times over the years. I’ve danced around with creative answers, desperate to hold onto the story of Santa for one more Christmas. On this sunny, spring morning I ran out of clever answers. The rumours were true, kid. I am Santa Claus. The jig was up.
So, what came next? I mean, aside from picking my daughter’s chin up off the floor.
What came next was amazing. Seriously – amazing. There wasn’t any anger (as some articles would have me believe). There was appreciation and gratitude.
The realization that for all of those years, her father and I had been the ones setting out the Easter eggs, we had been secretly collecting teeth from under her pillow in the middle of the night and that we had been purchasing, wrapping, hiding gifts for Christmas. She was in awe and she was thankful.
I delicately explained that we weren’t trying to deceive her and her sister. We were carrying on a beautiful tradition, a tradition that parents all over the world take part in. We were passing down the same magical traditions that we had been raised with. And, now that she knew the truth, she was now in on the most widely held secret.
Truth be told, I was a terrible Santa (much like my tooth fairy skills) and I was looking forward to my daughters being in the know. I was looking forward to this next phase in the Santa Claus story.
Now that we are on the other side of the Santa story, I’ve learned that Christmas is different, but it might actually be better.
Let’s start with a very welcome difference – no more hiding gifts. I am not stealthy. I am not a very good hider of gifts. In fact, I don’t think there was a single year when I didn’t run in a panic to cover up a gift I had absentmindedly left in plain sight. I was a terrible little elf. Now that the kids know that I am Santa, I can hide the gifts in my room and I don’t have to answer 20 questions about the weird blanket covered pile in the corner of my room. Those are the gifts – if you want them, don’t peak. Done.
Another change is a greater understanding and appreciation of each other. In the past, gifts were made by elves and Santa delivered them. Now, everyone understands that the gifts are thoughtfully selected and purchased for each other. That’s a big difference. Kids will ask Santa for everything and anything. Now, my girls wish lists are more considered. Which is awesome.
However, perhaps the best consequence is now my girls can be part of the beautiful tradition for their younger cousins.
We are very close to our extended family and my girls have cousins aged from 2-6 years old. These little ones are in the prime Santa years. My daughters are now able to participate in the rituals from the other side of the camera lens. On Christmas Eve, my girls help hide the Christmas pyjamas and act excited and surprised when everyone happily unwraps their gifts.
They are learning that the best part of the legend of Santa isn’t being the child – it is being the Santa. Yes, receiving gifts is always fun, but giving the gifts and seeing the joy one those little faces is truly magical.
I think this is the reason I was hanging on for one more year, one more year to be Santa. I was afraid that when the secret was out, Christmas would lose all the magic. Thankfully, I was totally wrong.
I often quote my favourite Christmas song, from the 1975 Sesame Street Christmas album.
Christmas means the spirit of giving, peace and joy to you.
The goodness of loving, the gladness of living.
These are Christmas too.