Let me set the scene. It was Thanksgiving night around a fire pit in beautiful Southern California. I was a few drinks and several pounds of butter in when he hit me with it. While discussing why Santa doesn't bring live things (a rule at our house... and the girls want bunnies this year) he said it. "Mom and Dad are Santa, right?". My Dad was sitting between the curious, bomb dropping 10 year old and I. He did a great job of staring straight ahead and trying to appear invisible. It's not the first time he has asked. I gave the standard, 'what did you think Buddy?' to buy myself some time. And when he said it again I answered with what I have answered with before, 'if you don't believe he doesn't come... so what do you think?'. And as he has several times in before, he said he believes.
Here's the thing. He's 10. He's in fourth grade. And he's smart and curious and extremely logical like his father. I was in fourth grade when I found out the truth but I wasn't nearly as logical. A friend told me and crushed my soul. He's more emotionally stable than fourth grade me. The way we see it, we have two options: we can continue with the 'if you don't believe he doesn't come' until the end of time or we can bring him in on the magic.
If we go with the 'if you don't believe he doesn't come' philosophy we're basically holding gifts over his head and know that there's an unspoken understanding that Santa is in fact not real. It's not a bad option, I think it's what my parents did with me and I turned out relatively fine. But he's a kid who needs answers so we are going with option two.
I did what every normal, warm blooded American mom does. I went back to the Pinterest page I haven't visited in years because I remembered a pin about a letter that some amazing mom wrote years ago to a kid named Ryan. The source is unknown or I would post it here and give her credit and streamers and balloons and a bottle of wine (if you know the source, please send it to me) because she said it way better than I could have. Below is the letter we have written to him (mostly borrowed from aforementioned Super Mom) about the magic of Santa.
I'm pretty sure we're doing the right thing. I'm not ever totally sure we are doing the right thing when it comes to parenting so it's par for the course. We want him to know that the magic is real and that now he gets to be a part of all of it. Now someone hold my coffee while I cry about my kids growing up and how I'm not ready and how I'm so grateful to still have the tantrum throwing meltdown queen (who has gotten much better btw) 3 year old.
And finally, the real question. Can he help us move the damn Elf?
You asked a really good question over Thanksgiving in California, “Mom and Dad are Santa, right?”. We know that you are curious and want the answer and we want to always be honest with you. We had to give it careful thought to know just what to say.
The answer is no. We are not Santa. There is no one, single Santa.
We are the people who fill your stocking and choose and wrap the presents under the tree— just as our parents did for us and their parents did for them and you will do for your own kids some day.
This could never make any of us Santa, though. Santa is lots and lots of people who keep the spirit of Christmas alive. He lives in our hearts—not at the North Pole. Santa is the magic and love and spirit of giving to others. What he does is teach children to believe in something they can’t see or touch. Throughout your life you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your family and friends and in God. You’ll need to be able to believe in things you can’t measure or hold in your hands.
Now you know the secret of how he gets down all of those chimneys on Christmas Eve: he has help from all of the people whose hearts he has filled with joy.
With full hearts people like Mom and Dad take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible. So no, we are not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. We are on his team and now you are too.
We need your help. We need you to guard this secret with your life. You probably have friends who haven’t asked their parents yet about Santa. And your sisters aren’t on our team just yet. We shared this with you because we know you will do a great job of keeping Santa’s magic alive for them until they’re ready to be on his team.
We love you more than you’ll ever know. Welcome to Team Santa Buddy!
Mom and Dad