Tonight we were in the car and the song "Santa Claus is coming to Town" came on the stereo. From the WAY back of the mini-van (Carson's newest favorite place to sit, which drives me crazy, because I can't hand him anything and he's constantly saying "What? What did you say? Are you talking to me?") Carson says quietly, "I know Santa's not real. Jimmy [friend's real name withheld to protect identity] told me today."
Aaaaaaand, there it was. Trent and I looked at each other quickly, trying to have a conversation with our eyes. Furrowed brows and wide open peepers and shaking of heads didn't really work, but I knew we were thinking the same thing. THIS IS IT.
I jumped in with the old classic "And what do YOU think about that?" (Our standard Santa party line thus far.)
"I don't know" says a quiet voice from the backseat.
"Do you think Santa is real?" Trent said.
Trent looked at me and muttered something, I think it was "Are we going to do this now?" And I said "Yes, let's do it."
So we told Carson that no. Santa is not real. St. Nicklaus was a real person who did give gifts to people and we would find a story and learn more about him. (Note to self--get on Amazon ASAP after blog posting and find appropriate educational tool.) But that Christmas is really about Jesus' birthday and Santa is just a fun game we play at Christmastime. JESUS is real and we will never, EVER tell Carson that He isn't. But yes--Santa is pretend. The gifts come from Mom and Dad.
I asked him if he would like to do that: go see him at the store, leave cookies for him and pretend he's coming--like a game. "Would you like to do that still?"
"Yeah. That's sounds pretty fun," said the hesitant and husky voice from the darkness.
"Okay." I said
"Okay." Daddy said.
"Okay." Carson said.
And it was over just like that. I'm feeling way more relieved than sad, which I think tells me more about my own views of the internal debate of what to do in our particular household. (For the record, neither of us felt passionately either way, so we just decided to let it ride without ever making a definitive statement until the Time Came.) We DID remind him that a lot of his friends still believe in Santa and that it's something we probably shouldn't tell them. They need to talk about it with their parents.
But really? I think I owe Jimmy a favor. A little innocence is lost, but I don't have to worry about all the Santa crap that bothered me last year, like: Does Santa have his own wrapping paper? Does Santa have unusual handwriting? How do I get around flat-out lying? Why am I letting this fictitious character get the credit for the big gift that Carson LOVES and that we hunted for all over town?
No, this is good. Not sure where it's going to lead with his two younger siblings some day, and I still support a family's right to Santa or not to Santa, but for us? Santa isn't coming to this town, and we're OK with that.