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Last night, Nate, who just turned 11 this week, called me into his room.

“Mom, is Santa real?”

One would think that with an 11-year-old, I was expecting this conversation (especially considering that I was 8 when I found out!). Naively, I was hoping to push the magic another season or two.

My first reaction, “of course he’s real…. {pause}… what do you think?”

“I think he isn’t real,” he responded, kind of quietly and sadly, I might add. (Hello, punch me in the stomach.)

And then, being the STELLAR parent I am, I said, “I’ll be right back Nate – I have to grab something out of my room.” And I ran away. Just for a second. Like a deer in headlines, I stood there in my bedroom and wasall, OHMYGODWHATDOIDO! NOOOOOO!

My heart was breaking. I knew I had to probably give him the truth in my answer. Hubby happened to be out of town so it was bad timing on that part, but it was time. Nate was figuring it out and we’ve always been honest and truthful with him. Heck, we had the TALK 6 months ago. He’s known about the birds and the bees longer than he’s known about Santa? Clearly the end was near, I just chose to ignore the warning signs.

I went back in. I pretended to think we weren’t going to pick up where we left off for just a second and kissed him goodnight until Nate said, “well?”

So I asked him again, “what do you think?”

He again responded that he didn’t think Santa was real and that most of his friends no longer believed. I asked him if he would be sad if there were no Santa – he said that it would a little but that he wanted to know the truthful answer. So I told him. And my heart shattered a little bit as my baby passed through another rite of passage taking him farther away from really being my baby.

The funny thing is – after he accepted the answer, he was okay. He said he thought Christmas was still fun and promised not to tell his brother. I, on the other hand, feel sad and sappy about it today.

My friend Rachel sent me a link to this Pop Sugar piece about Telling Kids the Truth About Santa. They have a letter from a Mom to a daughter; in the letter, the Mom is answering the question, “Mom, are you Santa?”

I liked this line:

So, no, I am not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too.

I thought it was sweet and did tell Nate that even though Santa isn’t real, we can still believe in the magic of Christmas. I hope to enlist him in keeping the tradition going with his brother for a couple more holidays. Now excuse me while I go cry over my cup of coffee as my kids continue to grow upin an insanely rapid pace…

Comments

  1. Oh Whitney – can I tell you I honestly CRIED as I read this? Delaney is 10 going on 11 and she still believes so deeply, I actually fear the moment something or someone tells her otherwise. You handled it beautifully – and I love that Nate is part of the team now even though it is so hard to watch them grow up overnight. I’m sending you great big hugs. xoxo

  2. My husband and I chose to go about santa a little differently. We’ve always told our kids the true story of St. Nicolas and all about who he was and what he did for the poor and children. We’ve always told our kids that we are “santa” that we help to carry on what the original santa – or St. Nick – started. And we’ve always felt confident it was the right thing for our family. But I think I can image how it feels to see them start to understand the truth. I see my own kids growing up to fast and this year it’s really hitting me hard. ((hugs)) to you.

  3. Well written, Whitney. Yes, it hurts, more for the parent. Nothing more special than seeing the excitement in a child’s eyes Christmas morning. But, as you say, the excitement doesn’t have to stop. It just changes I do love the letter written by 8 yr old Virginia O’Hanlon, to the New York Sun newspaper in 1897, asking if Santa is real. The 100+ year old editorial reply by Francis Church still remains one of the most famous editorials to this day, The editorial reply is entitled” Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
    Well worth reading.

  4. Great post Whit. And I’m in tears reading this too! And can remember the moment i found out -and the tears I cried afterwards – I was also 8 years old like you !!! I love that article you quoted and have seen it past around on the web before. It’s in my “save” pile and one I hope I don’t need for another year or two. xoxo

  5. There should have been a warning in the beginning about TEARS…. 🙂

  6. I’m literally crying right now. I dread this day…just dread it. I still remember when I asked my own mama. Hugs to you! It’ so awesome that he believed for so long. And really…are we SURE he isn’t real? I BELIEVE! xoxo

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