Like most parents we have been lying for years in order to protect Father Christmas. Last night we were busted when our daughter hit us with the big question at tucking-in time.
Her question was straight and to-the-point, like she already knew the answer and was simply testing to see if we would dare continue with the lie: ‘Mummy and Daddy, is Father Christmas real?’. What followed was one of those pauses that people describe as pregnant as we busied ourselves with stuff to avoid making eye contact. We haven’t yet got around to developing an official response to this question and I guess we were waiting to see which of us would confess first.
We bought a bit of time by asking whether someone had told her he wasn’t real and we got a name – some little know-it-all from school who had taken it upon herself to blow the whistle on Christmas and bring the whole Lapland and chimney thing crashing to the ground.
I settled with telling her that Father Christmas is real in her heart which she accepted with a certain amount of doubt in her eyes. I don’t think it will satisfy her for long. Her heart is already occupied by grandma, God, the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy and an assortment of angels and very soon she is going to figure out it must be getting fairly crowded in there.
This is going to get complicated because she has a little brother for whom we would like the fantasy to continue for a while longer. So not only will we have to admit to lying about the fat guy who slides down our chimney without getting spit roasted by the fire, we will also have to invite her to join the conspiracy.
And that means explaining that we weren’t exactly giving her all the facts when we said that lying is bad. When she is old enough to know about politicians she will of course realise that our Christmas lies were minor league, but in the meantime we have to live with the fact that in her mind we are the first grown-ups to have told her something that wasn’t true. Thanks a bunch Santa. I’ll be stoking that fire up real hot come Christmas Eve.