When is the right time to be real with your kids about Santa? For the most part, I think they figure it out on their own. But sometimes parents spill the beans in the heat of the moment, like my mother did.
I don’t remember going to see Santa. I am sure I did. But my brothers and I knew when Santa had been out shopping. Our parents would put my oldest brother in charge — which was a nightmare. They would leave us in the mid-afternoon and be gone all day and night shopping. I don’t know if they suspected that we knew. But we did.
When they were gone on a later night, maybe to a holiday party, we always found the goods. My parents were not too smart about hiding them. We found them in the same place every year: In the top of closet in the basement where my father kept his trains and stuffed behind boxes.
I am not sure which of us was the villain in this detective work, but I remember that I did not want to be part of it. I wanted to believe. So, while the parents were gone, we snooped. Of course, it all back fired on Christmas Day. In my house, Santa did not wrap the presents he left for us. There would always be three piles. And my mother would later say she knew we snooped, because each of us went to our respective gifts which we had seen before.
While my parents were sleeping on Christmas day, my brothers would wake up early and sneak downstairs to see what else we got and come to my room to tell me what my gifts were.
I was probably around 8 years old when my mother did the unthinkable: She told us, no, screamed that there was no Santa. It was after she went to the basement where we played and found the place a mess with our toys strewn about. Games were left open and their pieces were everywhere. Cars and dolls were left everywhere. My mother went off saying something like this, “This place is a mess. You need to clean it up. There is no Santa. Your father and I spend our hard earned money to buy these things for you and you all don’t appreciate it at all.”
I just remember the shock of her confirming how they lied to us. Of course, there was a Santa!
Siblings are usually the ones to spill the beans. Paige, who is seven years older than Grace, was always telling her there was no Santa and then I had to do damage control. And of course other kids try to spoil it, too. I don’t know when you’re going to come clean, but you better have a good answer when the question comes.