Monday, December 9, 2013

The End of Santa

Last year, I admitted that I love my artificial Christmas tree more than the real thing (though this year that love is being tested as I am removing and replacing all the lights on my 'prelit' tree. Hey, relationships are hard). I also admitted that we are entirely "meh" about Santa Claus. We didn't discourage it, but didn't really do a whole lot to encourage it, either. If we were at the mall and Santa was there and there was no line, we stopped to talk to Santa (but never took pictures). We do elf on the shelf, but mainly because I actually already had a creepy little elf guy that I got at a vintage gift shop, so why not put him to good use? I did however build in a clause that the elf moved when he wanted to, and you never know when that will be, but it was for sure NOT every single day. Still patting myself on the back for that one.

Anyway, back to Santa. Long story short, as of a few days ago, we no longer have any children who believe in Santa. I need to back up a little and confess to a little holiday prank we played on our kids last year. We stayed over at my inlaws house last Christmas Eve and I don't know if it was too much nog or the late hour that made us punchy or the combined power of four naturally sarcastic adults, but we thought it would be funny to pretend that the Grinch came and tried to steal all the presents, but that Santa hid them around the house, thus foiling that grouchy Grinch.

Our two older kids already knew that Santa wasn't real and we figured that at barely four, Charlotte wouldn't really get it, anyway, so this would be the funniest thing we ever did. We all laughed as we moved the presents from the tree in the family room to the one in the living room, wrote a pretend note from the Grinch, colored the milk green and made it seem like there was a struggle between the Grinch and Santa, that Santa ultimately won. The kids were gonna love this!

The older kids, once they got over the shock of not coming down to a glittering tree with loads of presents under it, did get a kick out of the joke. They laughed over it for months. They laugh over it still! Charlotte fussed a little, but didn't have much of a reaction, so we went on with our day, no harm no foul. Over the last year, though, it has become clear that my poor kid is terrified of the Grinch because he tried to steal her Christmas (Doh!). Once I realized that she had taken the joke to heart more than I thought, I told her that we had all made it up, that it was for fun, haha, aren't we sooo funny??

I cannot put into words the complete and utter shock on her face as she sputtered out to me, "You lied to me, Mommy!? The Grinch wasn't real? You LIED!?" Cue the Mommy who feels two inches tall. She looked at me with confusion while she processed how her parents could have possibly not only made the whole thing up, but they made up something that was really scary t her. For fun.  She looked at me and sighed and said, "Mommy. That scared me. And you lied to me about the Grinch." So, I hugged her and apologized profusely and wondered why my husband never seems to be home when the hard questions about Santa or sex come up.

Now, this happened a few weeks ago. She didn't mention anything about Santa and we hadn't pulled out any other decorations, so the elf on the shelf guy wasn't out yet, either, so neither of these things were on my radar at the moment. Besides, I was knee deep in Mommy guilt and lacked the foresight to think what problems these other two mythical creatures could stir up.

Fast forward when I finally did drag out the elf on the shelf. The big kids, being in the know about Santa and elves and whatnot, are responsible for the care and hiding of our elf. They love it, I don't have to think about it, everyone is happy. For a few days they hid it for Charlotte to find joyfully each morning. It was so fun to see her eyes light up every time the elves found a new hiding space because she just knew that the elf and Santa had been chillin' all night talking about how awesome she was.

Things took a turn for the worst when the elf found it's way to the bathroom and was perched right on the sink behind the faucet. At five year old eye level. Creepily grinning deeeep into Charlotte's eyes. We got home from school that afternoon and she urgently dashed to the bathroom. A second later I heard a timid, "Moooooom? The elf is staring at me. He cweeps me out and I can't go into the bathroom! I really have to go potty!"

Lily was sitting next to me and had a pained look on her face. "We should just tell her," I said. Lily nodded in sympathetic agreement and I broke the news to Charlotte. "Charlotte, honey, it's ok, it's just a pretend elf. Lily and Tyler hide him each night for you to find, so we can just move him so you can go potty."

Her eyes got as big as saucers and she gasped out, "MOMMY! Again?? You lied to me AGAIN? You and daddy lied about the Grinch AND the elf? Why? Ugghhh" She didn't cry, but she was severely disappointed in us. (Note that once again, Dad is not home, so I am the bearer of all bad holiday related news.) I knew, at this point, Santa needed to be outed or she was never going to believe a word I tell her again.

So, I asked her who she thought Santa was. She immediately said, "Santa is you and Daddy." I said, yes, Mommy and Daddy and Grandma and Grandpa. She thought about this a minute as it really began to sink in. "Oh! So, you bought me my bike!"

And then, I had to admit that we didn't buy the bike, Grandma and Grandpa did, so now she really knows what's up. Mom and Dad lie and aren't even the ones who give the good gifts.

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