Details were sketchy, but within moments, on the eve of Christmas Day, Santa was history and our daughter was ticked.
That evening, unwrapped packages and children’s toys were scattered throughout the living room and the memory of Christmas started to fade. I cleaned up the silver tinsel and crumpled wrapping paper and Dad offered to tuck the kids into bed.
“Goodnight little ones,” I said with big hugs and kisses. “Santa was very good to you this year.”
Off to bed they crawled but suddenly across the house should appear, an earsplitting cry, a sob, and a tear? Our daughter shouted, “This can’t be true! I just found out there is no Santa. It says right here,” she cried, pointing wildly at a magazine. “Did you know I’ve been standing up for Santa to all my friends who don’t believe?”
Time to come clean. We had planned to stretch out jolly Ole St. Nick until our youngest was in second grade. We knew once the truth was out, it would only be a matter of time before our daughter would spill the beans to her younger brother. If he pushed her buttons the wrong way, the tale would roll off her tongue like syrup on pancakes. She’d drop the bomb: “There is no Santa Claus.”
We pleaded with her to keep the secret for a bit longer and for her troubles, an extra gift under the tree the next Christmas. She joined the big kids on the block and discovered that there was more to Christmas than a Game Boy, DVD’s and a new bike. She looked deeply into our eyes and declared, “I will keep Santa alive in my heart!”
Days later, crisis averted, we visited Grandma in the Midwest. She anticipated sharing the secret with an adult, someone in the know, just like herself.
On the plane ride, she started to wiggle a loose tooth. She turned to me with a shocked expression and said, “Do you mean there isn’t a Tooth Fairy either?”
“Nope, that’s me,” I said.
“And the Easter Bunny?”
Stacey Gustafson can be reached at www.staceygustafson.com.