“He’s here so he can hear what little kids like you want for Christmas,” I tried to explain.
“Then why did I have to write him a letter?” she countered.
“Well, I wasn’t sure we would get the chance to see Santa. We just wanted to be sure,” I told her.
“I thought he was magic!” she cried, exasperated.
Through our car ride home, the questions didn’t end. She asked about kids in other states and countries, and how they would meet Santa. By this point, I had sold this impostor as the real thing. I couldn’t figure out how to backtrack and begin the whole, “He’s one of Santa’s helpers sent from the North Pole to help Santa find out what all the little girls and boys want.”
I was just considering how to introduce this conversation in when we passed a restaurant that happened to have their own Santa Claus for children to visit. There he was, five minutes away from mall Santa, hauling kids up onto his lap and smiling for pictures.
My daughter was incredulous from the back seat. “Mom!” she bellowed, “What the heck?” She felt very mature using that phrase. I could tell she felt like the situation needed the emphasis. “What is going on here?” she demanded.
I stumbled. I muttered. I decided to wait until we got home to have the talk face to face, so I tried to stall. I had not been prepared to defend the existence of Santa to my 4-year-old.
At home, I made a big deal about my “confession.” I explained that whole Santa spy business. I tried to help her see that Santa had an enormous job to do and he needed help. I implored her not to tell her cousin, hoping that the feeling of being in on a secret would make the situation better.
My daughter listened carefully. She asked a few questions, her face scrunched with skepticism. She told me that she would have to think about it. I figure that I’m going to need to up my game on the other magic parents attempt to create as proof. Eaten cookies and reindeer prints and separate “From Santa” wrapping paper and bows are all necessities this year. I’ll work as hard as I can to restore the Santa illusion. But I just would like to point out that none of this would be necessary without all the crappy fake Kris Kringles running around out there.