*Gasp!* I know right. My parents were upfront and honest with me about the whole Santa Claus bit. My mom explained Santa to me like this: “Santa Claus is as real as Mickey Mouse is.” I knew that Mickey Mouse wasn’t a real mouse that ran around in his underpants, but I liked him, and the same went for Santa (except for the underpants part…). My mom didn’t want to send me mixed messages about Christmas. As my friend’s holiday pin that she wore to a tacky sweater party so cheesily states, “Jesus is the reason for the season.”
So what is the difference between 2-5-year-old Kayla and 5+year-old Kayla? Well the older me believed in Santa Claus. When I was in kindergarten my mom received a phone call from my teacher saying that I was upsetting the other kids by telling them that Santa wasn’t a real person. I don’t remember any of these scarring conversations I had with my classmates. But somewhere along the road I started believing in Santa Claus all by myself. It just all seemed so wonderful, and magical. Why wouldn’t I want to jump on the Santa train?
My mom didn’t dispute it, but supported my belief in Santa. As the years went on the three kids got less gifts from our parents and more gifts from Santa. My mom would insist that we all write letters to Santa, and we would get a response from the big jolly man himself on Christmas morning. His letters usually offered a shout out to Jesus and a plea to love your brothers and sisters more. As we grew older and our belief wavered and faded away, my mother’s belief in Santa only grew. I think she saw that her babies were growing up and Santa was that one last grip on childhood that was leaving us. Even though she told us from the get go he wasn’t real. Confused? So am I. But then I did the same thing to my baby sister. I remember throwing reindeer food in the back yard and pretending to hear jingle bells for my sister’s sake for years after I stopped believing. But I kept pretending because I knew the day that she stopped believing, Christmas wouldn’t feel as magical as it did before.
Do I regret my mom’s choice to support our Santa belief? Yes and no. Yes because it only hyped up my expectations of what I thought Christmas should be. I was more focused on the gifts than on the miracle of Jesus’ birth. But no because it made it all fun, mysterious, and magical. There was wonder and hope in the speculation of Santa’s existence that is so connected to the essence of childhood. Hoping for the impossible.
I have not decided what Chris and I will tell our children someday. I guess it goes to show you that no matter what you tell your kids, they’re going to make their own choices.