We’re getting to that difficult age. The boys are six and eight, and while the eight-year-old seems to be on-message, the younger one has shown some signs of disbelief in the red-suited one.
A couple of weeks ago I was standing with him, waiting for the school bell to ring, and he said ‘I don’t believe in Santa.’ I could see the ears of the rest of the queue wagging. I don’t suppose there’s ever a good time to have this conversation.
‘OK. What about the elves?’
‘I don’t think there are elves.’
‘All right. Is there a sleigh, with bells and reindeer?’
Now this is a sneaky move on my part. Two years ago, on Christmas morning, we found two bells lying in the snow on the front lawn. The only possible explanation was that they had dropped from the sleigh. They now form part of the Christmas decorations.
*Cut to shot of small boy thinking*
‘Yes, there is a sleigh, there’s definitely a sleigh.’
‘And who do you think is in the sleigh?’
(Big smile) ‘SANTA!’
*pause* ‘I’m still not sure about the elves though.’
*school bell rings, I heave inner sigh of relief*
I’m not sure why it’s important to me that the kids still believe in Santa. How many times have I stressed the importance of telling the truth, or told them not to believe things without evidence? My Nan gave the game away when I was four or five, and I don’t think I’m emotionally scarred as a result (don’t write in).
Maybe it’s something about childhood innocence. Or just maybe it’s because I can’t resist a good story.