I don’t remember how old I was when I learned the truth about Santa Claus. I do remember how it happened. It was like the song says:
She didn’t see me creep, down the stairs to have a peek.
She thought that I was tucked up in my bedroom fast asleep.
However, instead of catching my mother kissing Santa Claus, I caught her setting out gifts. I had snuck down quietly, though, and went back upstairs to hide my deception. The next morning, when I rose at 5:00 a.m. for my annual ritual of playing card games with my older sister until it was time to go down and open presents, I wavered about informing my sister of my discovery.
“Sis, do you know there’s no Santa Claus?”
“Yes, but keep pretending to believe, at least for the parental units” she said. “You get more stuff that way.”
My kids are ages eleven and six and both still look forward to Santa Claus. However, my wife and I have a concern with our older one, Andrew. It’s not that he doesn’t believe. It’s just that he doesn’t question things like other kids do. We know that his friends are asking questions and likely many of them, like the kid in the movie The Polar Express, are at their crucial years. This may be the last time for them.
For Andrew, though, he may carry his belief for another few years…and that worries my wife and me. Andrew’s speech and social challenges already make him different and kids will make fun of him, as he gets older, particularly at middle school which he will start next fall. My wife and I work hard to help Andrew with his social skills, to minimize the chances of other kids regarding him as “different.” And it’s because of this we wonder…will we have to tell Andrew about Santa Claus.
For many of you, you may think, “Why bother?” You may regard it as lucky that we get to enjoy for a longer time what many parents wish they could have had. But it’s not an issue of what we want to enjoy at home. It’s an issue of making sure there’s one less thing at school for which kids can make fun of him.
At the moment, there is a ping-pong table in the basement. It’s Andrew’s gift from Santa. I was up until 2:30 a.m. last night assembling it. I had to do it early, as I didn’t want to chance discovering on Christmas Eve that there were parts missing. There’s nothing in the basement that Andrew would go down and see, but I have to hope that he doesn’t go down early to scope out where a table might be placed.
My wife and I will decide sometime after Christmas what we plan to do about next year. For now, we’ll let him enjoy 2008. And I would love to hear from parents about when their kids learned the truth about Santa Claus.