I expected this to happen sooner or later. After all, Diego is 9 years old and how much longer could I really expect him to buy into the Santa Claus thing? He really wants to be a believer in all the holiday fantasies. He enjoys the magic of all of it. He even had me enabling his beliefs when I ran out on St. Patrick’s Day and bought him green gifts so he would think the leprechauns really did visit.
This year it’s not even Thanksgiving and he’s already asking about Christmas, and Santa. Honestly, I was just hoping that his belief would just fade away and this year he would admit to me that he didn’t believe in Santa anymore. Last year Juan and I drove over an hour to Filmore so that we could have what I thought would be our last “Santa Experience” and Diego could ride a Polar Express train. I figured 8 years old was really the end of the Santa fantasy. I thought that by now he would stop believing and I wouldn’t have to do the whole leaving cookies and milk thing or sneak around and pretend Santa paid us a visit. My three teenagers stopped believing long ago, and frankly I am kind of over it. I certainly didn’t expect Diego to ask about Santa this year, much less today. I was caught completely off guard.
On the way to school this morning Diego started asking a lot of Santa questions. He asked, “Why don’t parents get anything from Santa on Christmas? What would I want Santa to bring me?” I was not prepared to have this discussion before I had my first full cup of coffee. I just couldn’t be that creative that early in the morning. I quickly detoured that conversation by saying I had to concentrate on driving in traffic.
On the way home from work this afternoon, in the pre-holiday rush hour traffic we had a lot of time to kill. We started talking about Thanksgiving which led to a discussion of how many days until Christmas, which of course led into another conversation about Santa. It was dark and I couldn’t see his expression as he sat in the back seat, but he sounded sincere.
Diego: Do you believe in Santa? Be honest.
Me: Do you believe?
Diego: Yes, I believe.
Me: (Thinking) He’s still a believer?! How could I crush his belief? Even if he really just wants to believe in the magic, but doesn’t truly buy into the whole Santa thing, how could I tell him the truth? I don’t want to lie. But I don’t have the heart to ruin his fantasy. Especially now, when I am driving in traffic, and when I can’t see how he’ll handle the truth. And I’m tired. Can’t he just stop believing without me having to be the bad guy and ruin it for him?
So, I kind of lied.
Me: Yes, there was a man named St. Nicolas. He would give presents to kids.
Diego: (Not missing a beat). You mean used to be? What about now?
Me: (Using my lawyer tactics) Well, what do you think?
Diego: I think he’s real. My friend Nelly told me she saw him once with his elf. I think his toy bag is magic and refills itself with the toys for the kids. How else could he have toys for all the kids?
Me: Yeah. (Seriously? This kid has quite an imagination. Either that or he is really playing me.)
Me: Well, it sounds like you have it all figured out. Oh look, a traffic accident!
Crisis averted. For now. Damn.