posted by Joe Anaya on December 19th, 2011

Spoiler Alert: This blog discusses Santa Claus.

My kid is 11 years old. That’s old enough right? He can’t still believe in Santa Claus can he? I was 6 when a neighbor boy told me Santa wasn’t real. But I’m not sure if my kid doesn’t believe anymore. I can’t really ask him. My wife wants to just tell him outright. But what if he does by some fluke still believe? I think we’ve failed as parents if our 11 year old still believes in Santa. Or maybe it’s okay to believe in the magic a little longer.

A friend told me a story about when a neighbor boy told her Santa wasn’t real. “Yes he is!” “No, it’s your parents putting gifts under the tree.” Her brilliant response to that was, “Na-uh. You must be naughty. Your parents had to put the gifts under the tree so you didn’t feel bad.” She confided that a few years later she stopped believing in Santa, but some how that decision had no effect on her belief in the Easter Bunny.

I know some older kids follow the dictum, “If you believe, you still receive.” Meaning that as long as they say they believe in Santa, they will continue to get that extra gift that isn’t from anyone in the family. My nephew was one such kid. He was well into his teens and whenever he tried to tell his family he still believed, they would yell, “No you don’t!”

We decided this is the year we’re going to let the cat out of the bag. While hanging out together, we hear the song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” My wife absently sings the words and I ask my son, “Do you know what this song is about?” My wife catches the tact and adds, “Why do you think he saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus?” My son innocently guesses, “Because she’s trying to get more presents?” Is that the answer of someone who thinks parents bring gifts? Now we’re a little worried. I press on, “Can you think of any other reason the kid would see Mommy kissing Santa Claus?” “Because she’s thanking him?” He seems sincere in his total lack of understanding.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not a humbug and even though it would be a relief to not have to slink around hiding presents and whatnot, I have no desire to be the parent who dashes their kid’s belief in magic. But come on, he can’t still believe, can he? But he, either by some fluke, still believes or he’s some sort of Academy Award level actor. We explain, that Santa is really the Dad dressed up and Mommy is kissing her husband. He lets out a laugh and says with a smile, “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that.” Still a little non-committal. Was he smiling because he liked the unrealized wrinkle in the meaning of the song or was he smiling because he can hardly keep a straight face?

Not 100% sure, I decided to abandon telling him about Santa and go on a different tact, “You know Santa only brings gifts to little kids.” Stunned he spurts out, “What?” “Santa doesn’t bring gifts to boys with hair on their legs and the beginnings of a shadow over their lip.” He nods with a wry smile and wonders, “What about the other gift? Will I still get one?” Relieved we say, “Yes.”

And maybe in a few years, we’ll have to ask when did he stop believing in Santa Claus.


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