The Santa Secret

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Be warned. This post is not for kids.

The Tooth Fairy got caught red-handed in our house the other night.

I’d woken up at 4:15 am, poked him and asked if he remembered about Gabriel’s tooth. He hadn’t, so he stumbled out of bed and down the stairs.

He made a lot of noise.

The next morning, Gabe announced “The Tooth Fairy didn’t come. It was Dad.”

I said “Go. To. My. Room.”

I got the girls started on breakfast and then met him there.

“What do you think this means?” I asked him.

“That Santa and the Easter Bunny aren’t real either.” And then one tear ran down his face.

He’s 9. I was 10. He caught dad. I found a receipt in the garage for the skates Santa brought me. My mom whisked me into her room and shut the door, too. And I cried.

“Does it feel weird to you that we lied?” This has always been the sticky wicket for me. I don’t remember being upset that my parents lied, because I understood on some level that the lie was the trade-off for the magic.

“Yes.”

“Do you understand why we did it?”

“Ye-es.”

“Ok. Well, I’m sorry that you found out this way. Let it sink in and we can talk about it later.”

He went to school.

I was sad all day long. The world just got a little less magical for him. We wouldn’t have let it go on for much longer. We didn’t want him to feel stupid when he did find out. But I was hoping for one more Christmas.

And…I’ll admit that I gave into some contrived internet fueled mom-angst: I have betrayed my child! We all lied to him! He’ll think God is fake! What have we done????!!

By the time I got him alone in the car on the way to practice, I had all my mea culpas in order.

I needn’t have worried.

He had some very practical questions: “Mom, that time the tooth fairy got caught in the typhoon in Japan and didn’t come for three nights and then brought a bunch of presents for Kate to make up for it? Was that dad?”

Yes.

“That time we were at Uncle Jake and Auntie Susie’s and we heard Santa and ran outside to find him and when we came back there were present on the porch?”

Auntie Susie and I bought them.

“Where did you get my bike?”

A bike shop in California.

“The Santa Tracker is fake?”

Yes.

“So that’s why we never have to worry if Santa can find us? Because it’s you?”

Yes.

Silence. Then “I kind of knew it last year. It just didn’t make sense. And then I caught dad once before but didn’t say anything because I thought I wouldn’t get any more money. And I didn’t want to know because now it won’t be as much fun.”

Hold on. Christmas is not really about Santa, anyway. But it will be just as much fun. Annie is only 3. If she lasts as long as you, we have seven more Christmases with Santa. And now you are on the other side of the secret. You get to help us make it magical.

He chewed on that for a minute. Then he started planning.

“Mom, we can find some bells and ring them like sleigh bells. And I can hide outside and say ‘Ho-ho-ho’. Maybe I can go up on the roof and stomp around like reindeer…”

Then he stopped and I could see him smiling in the rearview mirror.

“Mom. You know I still have to get Santa presents or the girls will think that’s weird.”

Yes, buddy. I know.

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