Monday, October 16, 2006

I Guess It's Time To Tell Her

Corey and I were settling down with the girls tonight before their respective bedtimes. Every night, the four of us meet up in our bedroom to cuddle, read books, sing songs or just catch up on the day. Tonight, Corey decided to quiz Ella on Santa.

"Hey Ella, what does Santa do?"

"Um, he eats all of our cookies."

"Oh. Does he do anything else?"

"Welllllll, he REALLY likes faniches (sandwiches)."

"I see. When is he coming?"

"On Tuesday."

"Really? Why is he coming?"

"He's coming on Friday to visit."

"But you just said he was coming on Tuesday."

"He is--AND he is coming on Friday. But sometimes he comes on Wednesdays."

On and on it went. In true Ella form, it turned out to be a very amusing conversation. After we tucked her in, I thought about the fact that we probably should tell her the truth about Santa. The thing is, I really don't want to.

Last year, I had Ella put a plate of cookies out for Santa, but I neglected to tell her the real reason for the action. At the time, I told her that Santa was coming to visit in the middle of the night because it was Baby Jesus' birthday. I didn't tell her about the sleigh, the reindeer, the elves or the presents. Ella didn't question anything because she hadn't had any real exposure to Santa. She wasn't in daycare last year, so she wasn't around other, more worldy kids. She had never had the pleasure of waiting two hours in line with 30 other miserable and screaming children to sit on the lap of a gamey and only possibly sober Santa Clause for a momentous photo opportunity. We had a wonderful Christmas.

A big part of me doesn't want to change this arrangement. I don't want my girls to be materialistic and spoiled. I am not particularly religious, but I also don't want my girls to get caught up in the commercialism of Christmas. Maybe I am being way too uptight about a jolly man with a white beard and a red snow suit. Maybe I'm being lazy. After all, acknowledging Santa means work for me to keep his story alive.

Maybe I don't want Ella to be disappointed when she finds out the truth. I found out that there was no Santa when I was 7. Jody Heiden, one of the older kids on the bus, told me the truth. As a matter of fact, I could write a book about what I learned on the bus, but I digress. At any rate, whenI found out that Santa was bogus, I was in shock. I was also pissed because my mother had just made me rewrite my letter to Santa because, according to her, he had poor vision and probably wouldn't be able to read what I had written. So I did what any self-respecting 7 year old would do. I told my 9 year old sister who was still a believer. I felt tremendous satisfaction from being able to tell my know-it-all sister something that she didn't know. Unfortunately, my mother was so pissed that I told my sister, that I got no gifts from Santa, and my sister still got hers. At the time I was truly devastated because I had been secretly holding out hope that Jody was wrong and that Santa was real. When I didn't get any presents from him, I really thought he was punishing me for not believing.

At this point, I know we have to tell Ella about Santa. She is probably the only kid in her class in school who doesn't know what Santa is all about. And while I am sure there is absolutely no harm in telling her about him, a part of me feels a little sad.

God, it's not even Halloween yet.


Kristen said...

OH wow - first I thought you were saying you'd have to tell her Santa wasn't REAL, then I realized you meant that she really doesn't know all the trappings of the Santa story. I think you guys are amazing for not falling prey to the Santa commercialism yet.

I have some friends who just chose to tell their kids up front (when they started hearing about Santa at day care) that Santa is a story, a fun but slightly insignificant part of the holiday season. I'm sure it is slightly challenging for the kids around their peers, but it actually hasn't created any major issues, and the parents don't feel like they had to compromise their values. It's definitely a personal decision. We kind of fell into the Santa thing by default, but now that my kids are in the "I need a new toy" every five minutes phase, I'm wishing we'd thought through this a little more thoroughly, like you have.

MetroDad said...

There's plenty of time for her to learn that Santa is really the cashier at Toys 'R Us who sells the marked-up TMX Elmos. I say, prolong the fantasy. I remember how sad I felt when I learned that Santa wasn't real. Although I didn't care about the presents, I do remember that a little part of me died that day!

Of course, this might just be the ramblings of a father who is scared by the fact that his 2-year-old daughter seems to be growing up every day!

Velma said...

I was, in general, a very happy, sweet, kind of spacy kid. My middle sister was the hellion, stubborn, really good at pushing buttons. One of the worst things I ever did happened after she'd been yanking my chain for a long time and I finally lost it. I couldn't think of any way to get back at her for all the mean stuff she was doing to me, so I'm sure you know what I did, right? Unfortunately, our youngest sister, who couldn't have been more than 5 at the time, was in the room as I dropped my little bombshell.

My mother was so furious at me. She actually made me go back to them and tell them I was lying and that I'd just said that terrible thing about Santa not being real to make them upset.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

I'm still not sure how we're going to handle this. I hate the thought of lying to the kids about anything, but I would also hate for them to miss out on all of the magic of "Christmas"... and the Easter Bunny, and The Tooth Fairy...

Melissa said...

So cute. That girl is so cute...he's coming on Tuesday and Friday to visit. I figure it this way, we do the whole Santa thing watered down. Christmas is about giving and sharing and family to us, but they do know who Santa is. But our Santa gives them one gift and fils a stocking, becuase we actually celebrate on Christmas Eve. And it's never the best gift, just something small, because I want to be thanked for my brillant ideas for gifts, not some fake fat man. When they ask me if he's real, I will tell them no. I won't lie to them. But the magic of it, is something I'm not willing to squash. I just don't talk about it a ton.

Oh also, from your question at Metros place....YES there is hashbrowns and toast in LA. What do you think we did here, ban all carbs? :)

The June Cleaver Diaries said...

Oh good Lord. I just got into it with Chris because he keeps saying,"You know, I'm gonna have to call Santa if you can't stop acting like a fighting dinosaur."
And becaue I'm SURE the boy remembers the day I made Herr pretend to be Santa on the phone, he freaks out every time.

By the way, I bet when he finds out there's no Santa, he's gonna hate Herr, not me.

TB said...

I think it's magical that she's been able to believe for this long. Do parents really have to be the ones to break this myth? Isn't it sort of a rite of passage that you find out from a schoolmate or older sibling? Or maybe I'm just thinking you could take the easy way out.

stefanierj said...

Whoa--what's with all the Real Names? Did I miss something? I mean, I like knowing everyone's real name, but I kinda miss Herr Hausfrau and all that.

I think telling BG about Santa but telling her that he's not going to come down the chimney but is a fun tradition and not overdoing it might be a way to go. I always knew Santa wasn't real--well, that he'd been a real guy and that this tradition started up around him and that everyone really enjoys it, and I really don't think it dampened the magic for me anymore than it did when my mom pretended my dolls would "say" things to her. Kids like to be on board with perpetuating the myth, especially if they're "in the know," and BG seems like that kind of girl! :)

Good luck!

Misfit Hausfrau said...

I realized when I reread my post that I wasn't very clear--Ella doesn't know ANYTHING about Santa or what he represents. I've just been thinking about the whole ordeal of telling her about the tale of Santa, all to then tell her the truth a few years from now.

kimmyk said...

I'd keep the dream alive. Tell her about the reindeer and the sleigh and all the tiny elves. Lie while you can and keep tht sparkle in her eye as long as you can.

When she starts asking all the more indepth questions, maybe that's the time to break her the news.

Last year was the first year and mine are 13 and 14 Hausfrau that I sort of said anything. Although, I'm sure they've known about it for many years I didn't want to be the one to ruin the dream. I always wrap one present in odd paper and when they ask I just always answer "Magic".

I watch home videos of my children when they're little around Christmas and I cry. They're so excited about it all...keep her excited.

Candace said...

Remember how Christopher handled it, though? I was really proud of him and I don't think he's going to end up on a tower with a gun.

But seriously, do what you think you should do. Ella doesn't have to have the Santa thing as part of her childhood, she really doesn't. As long as you tell her that some kids have that story as part of their lives and she shouldn't tell them it's not real, I think she'll be fine.

Iselyahna said...

Just a thought about keeping Santa alive; I read this on a blog I used to read about how they kept Santa there, but minimized. There was one "big" present every year (not HUGE, but you know what I mean) - that was the Santa present. Santa brought you one "big" present, but only if you believed in him. Of course, every kid figured it out in their own way, but at 23 years old this woman's kids had a friend visiting who said something about "You still believe in Santa?" With guilty looks they glanced over at their mom and told the friend to shut the heck up, of course they believe in Santa (lest they not get the present...).

Just a thought.