It all started really innocently, actually.
I was with my girls in Subway sandwich shop and there was a display of Angel Tree Kids, so I let each girl pick a child. They each picked a girl who was their age, and we began to look at the wish lists. Items like LeapFrog Readers and dolls were among the requests. We discussed how we would go shopping and fulfill the requests and then deliver the items to the drop-off location. Satisfied with our plan, we ate our sandwiches and talked about the holidays.
It should be noted that Emma was just days away from turning 10. She was starting to ask some questions, but hadn’t gone quite over the line into demanding the truth about the magic of Christmas.
Cut to a few hours later and a question out of the blue.
Here is a true confession for you all: I do not think well on my feet. I am the person who stumbles through awkward encounters with rude people by mumbling an apology and then thinking of what I *should* have said hours later in the shower. So, clearly parenting is a tough gig for me, since the majority of your time is spent bobbing and weaving through unexpected questions at inopportune times.
Casually Emma said to me (with Abby right next to her), “But I don’t understand. Why doesn’t Santa bring the angel tree kids the toys they asked for? Why do we have to buy them?”
I felt my heart start to race and the sweat began to gather on my brow. I started with the sputtering, “uh, well, see” and then before I could even stop myself, I said the unthinkable.
“Toys are really expensive, you see, and for people who don’t have a lot of money, they can’t necessarily afford Santa”.
“YOU HAVE TO PAY SANTA???!!!”, burst from my child’s mouth, her eyes wide with a mix of horror and shock.
“Well, not exactly. I mean, kind of. Not really. But, yeah, a little bit”. That was certainly clear and not at all vague.
“That makes sense I guess. Now, I understand why rich kids always get so many presents from Santa. Thanks mom”, said Emma ever so sweetly.
OMG, what had I done? I had left my very innocent and kind child believing that Santa was some kind of shyster who basically took parents’ money to deliver gifts all over the world. Yeah, that certainly would make the holiday season magical.
After all, what child does not want to have visions of Santa with fist fulls of cash dancing in their dreams? I could just imagine that she would be picturing the “cha-ching” of the cash register as she sat on his lap sharing her own Christmas wish list.