The End of the Magic? When My Son Learned the Truth at School

Posted January 8, 2010 by

***Warning! Mature content. If you’re under the age of 10, please contact an adult before reading further.***

It seemed to mark some kind of milestone — a point of no return — that one went through on the path to adulthood. 2009 marked my older son’s first Christmas without Santa Claus. It was, as was so aptly put in the movie, The Polar Express (which my 6 year-old insisted on watching some 35 times this season), the end of the magic?.

Shortly after the new school year began, my fourth-grader came home from school and stated rather resolutely that some kid in his class had informed him of The Truth: Santa Claus doesn’t really exist. Even though my son stated this as if it were fact, I still detected a hint of disbelief in his voice when he then turned to my fianc and asked, Is it true? Is there really no Santa? That it’s the parents who put gifts out for their kids.

There was a glimmer of magic still in his eyes — or so I thought — when my son asked that question. You know that glimmer — the one we had when we believed. Perhaps it was actually my last grasp at holding onto that tingle I feel when I see his eyes light up at the mention of Santa Claus. Nevertheless, that glimmer triggered something in me that wanted to resist telling him the truth. But as I opened my mouth to answer, I heard my fiance’s voice saying, Yes, Max — it’s true. There is no Santa Claus.

My mouth hung open, still frozen from my attempt to answer. My son’s head quickly swung around and he stared at me. Is that true, Mom he asked.

Unprepared for this moment, my eyes quickly darted back to my fiance. I fumbled for words. A part of me didn’t want to admit the truth. Knowing that my son looks for loopholes and has an affinity for debate, I just sighed. Yes, Max … It’s true. There was a moment of silence that felt almost sacred. Our shoulders drooped a little, as if the air (magic) had been let out of a small balloon.

After confirming the inevitable truth, the three of us had an immediate mini-huddle. Fortunately, my younger son (age 6) was not in the room at the time of the revelation. I requested that we let him enjoy the magic for a few more years, and we sealed our promise by zipping our mouths closed.

I’m happy to report that we upheld our promise. I know this because my first-grader wrote a note to Santa on December 23rd, Sorry, Santa — we don’t have a chimney — use the door (my apartment doesn’t have a fireplace) and carefully taped it to the front door. A tear formed in my eye — some magic still persists.

Do you remember when you discovered The Truth about Santa Claus? How did you feel? Do you uphold that Santa tradition in your family? I would love to hear your experiences!


Susan Engel is a mother of two, writer and parent blogger for Empowering Parents.

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