I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph. ~Shirley Temple
Now that we are fast approaching Christmas and the idea of Santa Clause is everywhere, it reminds me of how Kyle was informed of the truth about old Saint Nick. I told him. Yes, I know it sounds horrible, but it needed to be done. Kyle turned eleven this past July, so this happened about a year and a half ago when Kyle was ten years old.
Up until last summer, as far as we knew, Kyle still believed in Santa, wholeheartedly. This is kind of surprising to me because Kyle is such a realist. He’s very practical with his thinking, always has been, and I can’t believe he didn’t poke holes in Santa’s story. Of course, Kyle has also always been so innocent, like all children should be, and his faith in the magic of Christmas was always unwavering, like everyone’s should be. Not to mention, the idea of a jolly man bringing him toys, especially Legos, was beyond him to question it.
Mom, Nicole and I discussed the situation before any action was taken. I personally didn’t think this was a problem with Kyle still believing, but mom brought up a good point, she didn’t want kids making fun of Kyle for not knowing. She also didn’t want Kyle finding out from the other youngsters at this age and not really understanding Christmas. Well, upon further discussion it was established that Nicole was going to tell Kyle over the “Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s week of fun.” Our reasoning was, Kyle would be having so much fun, hence the name, that he wouldn’t be upset.
Great! The plan was laid out or so I thought. Except, an opportunity presented itself and I took it. Actually, the conversation happened so quickly, I really didn’t have time to think about it, but I knew I didn’t want to lie to Kyle, nor did I want him to possibly be upset on his vacation.
Kyle and I were heading somewhere and he brought up Christmas. This is not unusual for Kyle to be thinking about his Christmas presents in the middle of summer. He pre-plans his booty well in advance so we have time to fulfill his requests. I was told by a friend of mine that when we did break the news, do not make it into such a big deal, be casual about the conversation. Kyle said, “Ya Aunt Heather, for Christmas I want [something] from Santa Clause.” Ok, now was the time to rip off the band-aide. I interrupted him and said, “You know Kyle, there’s no such thing as Santa Clause.” He stopped and thought for a moment and said, “But Saint Nicholas is real.” You see Kyle’s chosen saint for his Confirmation was Saint Nicholas, after my sister Nicole. I added to confirm his faith, “O yes, Saint Nicholas was a real man, who did great things. But a fat jolly man running around and delivering gifts is not real.” trying to give him a clear comparison and trying to make this conversation flow a little more smoothly. He said, “But am I still going to get my gifts under the tree?” My poor confused and stressed out Kyle! I replied, “Yes Kyle, you are not going to be at a loss of toys and gifts from all of us, as you never have been” He seemed fine with that answer and I saw his facial expression change from concern to calm again.
Eventually, Kyle turned to me and said, “It’s ok Aunt Heather, at least there’s an Easter Bunny.” Yikes! Not only am I handling Christmas but I just got thrown into Easter too! Nonchalantly, I responded, “Ya, no there’s no Easter Bunny either, bud.” He just stared out the windshield of my car. I could tell he was really taking this in. Making sure Kyle understood that we wanted him to believe in Santa Clause and the goodness of what Christmas is truly about, I ensured him, that we as a family don’t lie and we would never lied to him. Of course, with the exceptions of the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Boogie Man (Kyle’s boogie man lived in his teeth, my way of having him brush his teeth thoroughly) and yes Santa Clause. Although I didn’t say it quite like that, but I did want to cover all bases.
To break the silence I reiterated the importance of each of those holidays. They are not to give kids toys and gifts, but they are celebrations of Jesus. Kyle said, “Ya I know that.” Good, at least I know Kyle has been paying attention to me, his CCD teacher and father during mass. I guess that was my only real concern, that he would be confused with the real message of each holiday, but it seemed like he was up-to-speed on Jesus. Good! My job as a godmother is proving successful.
As Kyle continued his conversation, before I rudely interrupted him and destroyed the idea of Santa Clause, he continued where he left off. Amazing! Without missing a beat! As Kyle was going off into a dissertation of what gifts he wanted and instructing me for which celebration he wanted them, I couldn’t help but think of the first time I found out Santa wasn’t real. I heard it from, MOM!
Yep, I remember it to this day. Mom, Nicole and I were eating at Jioio’s and mom blurted out, “Well I guess you girls know there’s no such thing as Santa Clause.” What? Was mom being serious? Then she continued without missing a beat, “Your father and I have been giving you kids the gifts, well it’s me buying the gifts and wrapping them. But don’t tell your brother, he still believes in Santa.” At that point I did too, until this shock of reality hit. I looked to Nicole for some reinsurance, but she just nodded her head as if she knew about it all along. Which means, this conversation was not ruining anyone’s appetite but mine!
Needless to say, I was sick in the stomach the rest of the day. I was also a little bit miffed with mom for not easing into the conversation, but then again mom’s never been subtle and sensitive. I guess that’s where I get it. Even though Ryan still believed, I wasn’t about to play along with mom and dad’s deception. That Christmas, I remember distinctly not bringing up Santa at all and I didn’t join in on any conversation that involved the bearded jolly giant. I was taking a stand! Keep in mind, I never told Ryan, but I didn’t add to the myth either. I don’t really know how Ryan ever found out or when, probably mom just blurting it out one day, or one of my cousins who were older shared the secret.
Thinking back on it now, I remember one summer being at gram and pap’s house and finding my purple bottle in the basement. What does that have to do with Santa? Well, I remembered when Santa made his appearance at our house. It was my pap dressed up, sometimes it was a family friend. That year, me and my bottle must have been the focus of discussion because when Santa gave me my gift, I was immediately prompted by my gram, “Now what are you going to give Santa, Heather?” I had nothing, I was just a kid! So I forked over my beloved bottle. So carelessly, my grandma left MY bottle on the shelves among the canned food in the basement and naturally I found it. Then, I thought back, Santa took it so that must mean, Santa is pap? Stealthy like, I investigated pap’s closet and found a box on the top shelf with a piece of red fabric peeking out. Somehow I managed to get a chair past my grandma, who was napping, to investigate further.
Yes my suspicion was confirmed, it was pap who dressed as Santa. I found the suit! Yet, I still never fathomed there was not a Santa Clause. I guess everyone has a major childhood trauma. I’m just blessed to say, mine was minor and I knew I always had a great family! Hope everyone still believes in the miracle of Christmas! I know I do. Merry Christmas!