Santa must be

On Christmas morning our son gets a present from us and one from Santa. It’s what we’ve always done. He’s 13 and friends say we should have let him down gently years ago, and we should tell the truth, as they see it, now. One says of course our son knows; he’s humouring us or worse, fleecing us for more presents. That’s possible, but he never wants much, and if he is taking me for a ride, it’s a ride I’d take again given a choice. Another says believing in Santa is about me, living the childhood I wish I’d had. I come from a de-Santaized family. My father, a crusty journalist, told us that whatever anyone else said, there was no Santa and he and my mother bought the presents. He was like the Grinch or Scrooge without the epiphany.  I wouldn’t trade what we’ve done, but what to do now?

The Christmas our son was 5 or 6, he was sleeping in our bed after a run of bad dreams. He left a note on his door to make sure Santa knew where he was. We still have it somewhere. When he was 7, Santa gave one of his friends a long-expired Star Wars Lego set which gave him the notion Santa’s workshop must have every Lego set ever made. I remember him explaining this to me the next year, when we were in Canada, as he told me about the long-expired Luke Skywalker minifig and fighter jet Santa was going to bring. There it was under the tree on Christmas morning. He wrote to Santa that year too. Dropping his letter in the blue postbox, he was concerned Santa wouldn’t know how to find him so far from home. So was I. Santa’s handwritten reply assured him that he kept up to date with children who travelled, especially those a long way from home. Also, Santa said, he knew all children were good so there was nothing to worry about on that score.

I know a mum whose 10-year-old asked if Santa was real, and she said, “Do you really want to know?” He nodded, so she shook her head no. He burst into tears. Santa brings our family so much happiness, happiness my poor father missed. On the other hand, I promised I wouldn’t lie to my son about important things. Last year, I thought he’d ask. He said kids at school told him Santa didn’t exist. I waited to see if he’d say more. He didn’t. I said, “Maybe Santa exists if you believe he does.” He looked at me and said, “Maybe I believe then.” Me too, I said. Merry Christmas.