Milly is 11 and for the past couple of years we have seen her belief in Santa waver.On the last two Christmas eves it has been very, very late before she has managed to get to sleep.Last Christmas she cried because she was so scared he wouldn't come when she was still awake at 2.00 pm.
She didn't come right out and ask if he was real or not but little things she said led us to think she was questioning,but still desperately wanting to believe in him being real.
It was causing her so much stress and making the build up to Christmas so difficult. Alan and I talked about whether to tell her the truth even though she hadn't asked.We decided that it didn't feel like the right time and it would have been awful if we had the timing wrong and could imagine how upset she would be.We talked about ways we might tackle it if she asked and what we would say,depending on how she took the news.I have heard stories of very sensitive children being inconsolable on hearing the truth.
Emily and I were out yesterday.We sat having lunch at a table in the window seats of a chip shop and I can't even remember how we got into the conversation about Christmas.Then out of the blue she asked me if Santa was real! I said "what do you think?" to assess how serious she was about wanting the answer and she said "no, I asked you and I would like the truth......."So very serious then :-)
Well although I had anticipated it happening this year I was thrown.It wasn't that I was thinking of carrying on with the pretence but in that split second I had to decide how to tackle it, assessing how she might take it ,and how to own up to the fabrication for so many years!
Within the few seconds I was thinking about how to word things, she asked if it was us that put them out.
I simply said" Yes it was" and she smiled!
We talked a bit more about how I would stay up till the early hours before setting out Santa's toys.She wasn't upset in fact she said she felt elated.She said that this year she would be able to lie in and not feel the need to rush and see if he had been!!
We talked about why we pretend Santa is real and I said that Daddy and I would do things differently if we had the time over again and went through a few ways we could have done it without pretending about Santa. .We talked and I explained that it had been done with the best intentions to make Christmas a magical time.
She asked if she could talk to Amy (best friend) because she said they had been talking about it at Christmas.I said that it would be unfair to spoil it for Amy if she still believed,but we talked about ways she could broach the subject to find out if Amy knew.
We talked about keeping Santa real for younger children that we know.
It went smoothly, the time was right,Milly was ready to know.I would still handle the whole Christmas thing differently.....without,what always felt like, the lie of Santa......