I'm going to tell you about Santa. If you don't want to know the truth, don't keep reading.
O.K., I admit it, we played Santa with our kids when they were little. It was fun. It was harmless. Don't judge me, please.
I had determined when they were born that I would not lie to my children--about anything. Of course, you might be thinking that even playing Santa for your kids is a form of lying. Semantics, I say. Anyway, I had decided that if questions started coming up about Santa, I would answer them as truthfully as I could. I would even tell "the secret" if pushed.
About five years ago, I had the last "Santa talk" with Maggie.
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was shortly after Christmas, and the girls and I were at the local mall, probably exchanging a sweater for something more useful. At any rate, the time came for lunch and we headed to our favorite place to eat in the mall--A & W--where you can not only get a frosty mug of root beer, but you can also get your complete fat intake for the week in one chili cheese dog. Heaven.
So we were sitting at one of their "high" tables with the stools, happily munching on fries and sipping ice cold root beer when Maggie blurted out, "Mom, is Santa Claus real?"
I think I spewed root beer all over the table. Where was this coming from?
So I started "the talk" as I had started with each of my older girls. "Maggie, I am not going to lie to you. Are you sure you want to know?"
"Yes, I think so," was her reply. I've found, after having been through this three times, that they usually don't ask the question until they pretty much know the answer.
So we trudged forward.
"You're sure? Because if you're sure, I'm going to tell you."
"Yes, Mom! I'm sure."
"O.K." I said. And then I simply and slowly shook my head.
Quietly, her reply came. "I thought so," she said.
"Are you sad?" I asked.
"Kind of," she said with tears forming in her beautiful brown eyes. "But I kind of knew it was you. Santa's handwriting looks just like yours. Why didn't you try to disguise it?"
Good question, I thought. But the reason I never tried to disguise it, I told her, was because I sort of wanted them to figure it out. The whole Santa thing was fun, but didn't need to be carried on until they were teenagers. I figured by the time they were five or six they would put two-and-two together.
We sat in silence for a minute, and then came Maggie's next question. "Mom, does that mean you're also the tooth fairy?"
"Oh, Maggie, I'm so sorry. Yes," was all I said.
I could feel her world shifting beneath her, and I felt so terrible that there was nothing I could do about it. Things were changing for my baby, and I couldn't stop it. She would look at the world differently from here on out.
Maggie sat quietly, contemplating.
I sat nervously, awaiting the next question.
"Mom," she finally said, "if you're Santa AND the tooth fairy, . . . then don't even tell me about the Easter Bunny!"