"Mama? How does Santa get out of the fireplace",
I glanced at our glass enclosed gas fireplace before answering my incredibly concerned 4 year old. "He can't honey, at our house he has to use the door."
Panic strikes her little face.
"Mama! I don't like a stranger coming in my house at night."
Quick scramble of how to answer my little girl without destroying the magic of Christmas. Only 4 years into the parenting game I was not prepared to hear that response.
"Its okay! he isn't a bad guy. He knocks on Mama and Daddy's back door, shows a picture ID and a business card and we let him in."
I could tell she was only barely comforted by this response.
A year later we had the same conversation.
and when she was 6 and when she was 7.
By then I had 3 verbal children that were all scared of Santa, this conversation often came up in the car, probably because I was a captive audience. No dishes, no laundry, no doorbell. Desperate to comfort my children of this long held fear I told them the truth.
"Santa died a long time ago."
I checked my rear view mirror and found the words parenting fail streaming down their cheeks.
I admit, I wasn't eloquent in my delivery, but I didn't think I needed to be. I expected to have 3 relieved little kids. Instead they were devastated that this man they were scared of was dead. I was searching my glove box for the instruction manual on parenting, I had no idea what to do. This was not the response I had expected!
I blurted out some stuff about the story of Father Christmas and that after he died people continued giving gifts in his memory, (which is weird because the HIS in that sentence should really refer to the Wise Men's gift to the Christ child or to God's gift of Christ to the world, but I digress into a religious argument). In that tradition, mama and daddy give them gifts because we love them.
The seemed content with that response, and Santa has just never really played a role in our Christmas's since. He wasn't excluded, he just wasn't given credit for daddy's hard work to earn money to buy them nice things at Christmas, Santa became a non-issue.
I want my kids to know that it is the FATHER and MOTHER, both earthly and heavenly that provide blessings to the children. My kids don't have to ask themselves why their friend gets an ipod for
Christmas and they get a book on tape? They don't have to think they
are somehow less important to Santa because they get less at Christmas. My kids know they are loved and cared for. They know that God loves them and they know that Christmas is about sharing the love of Christ.
And that my friends is the result of my parenting fail, I'm calling it a win.