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Sunday, December 11, 2011

blantant lies for the cause

 I confidently thought we would have two more years out of Ella regarding the Santa subterfuge.

After watching our nephew with his Elf  On The Shelf, we decided this would be a fun tradition. (For anyone who doesn't know EOTS it is an elf doll who is purported to fly to the North Pole every night, ala Christmas magic, and report to Santa about children's behavior.  Each night he returns to a different location and part of the fun is finding him each morning.  Children are allowed to talk to the elf but he is under strict orders not to respond and if they are not to touch him lest he lose his magic.)

Ella was beyond excited when they opened an early present Santa had left by the fire overnight.  They quickly named their elf Jingles and he found a perch up high on a curtain rod. I think Ella was as pleased that Santa would get reports of her stellar behavior as well as Maya's occasional naughtiness.

We were heading upstairs to get dressed and she started asking. 

"Mom, is it really you that moves the elf every night?"
"It's Christmas Spirit,"  I answered.
"Yeah, but is it really you?  Tell me, I want to know."

GULP.  Double gulp. I was ahead of her on the stairs, infinitely grateful my face wouldn't belie the heavy internal conflict I was feeling.

Lie outright to your child in the name of preserving another year or two of magic?  Or go with honesty, confess to chopping down the cherry tree, and rip your child's magical Christmas moments out from under her before breakfast on a school day with no warning whatsoever.

Let me just say right about now I've kinda got a resentment against this 8 inch high elf perched haughtily up on our speaker shelf.  I'm sort of wishing we never invited him in.

I've had issues with the lying over the years.  Many, many people have recounted to me their amazing childhood Christmas's and said they were glad their parent's lied about it and they never felt betrayed when they found out the truth.

So I replied, "As far as I know, it is Christmas Spirit that moves the elf."

She let out a big breath in a rush, "Oh PHEW!  Okay, I believe you.  So how can he see us when we are upstairs or at school?  I wonder what he will tell Santa about Maya.  Does he really go back to the North Pole after Christmas or does he go in the basement with all the other Christmas decorations?" And the questions began.

I came downstairs, away from 'ol canine ears, and pulled Sandi aside.  She was as conflicted as I and added a new dilemma to the quandary.  What if Ella goes to school and tells the kids about the elf and some mean, Santa stomping kid says, "That is just a doll you buy at the store. There is no Santa."  How would we pick up the pieces to that specific heartbreak?

But this is the risk we run at her age.  My niece, at age 8 last year, was still a firm believer.  I don't know if we have one more year from our super sensitive, innocent girl but shouldn't we at least try?

Ella was telling her babysitter Kassidy about the elf last night.  This is what she said, "He flies to the North Pole every night to see Santa and then he comes back and sits somewhere different.  It's good he can fly because it would be really hard for him to walk since his hands and legs are sewn together."

They are too. Take a look:

I thought this was the end of it. Then today she asked me again if I moved it.  Sandi had so I told her, honestly, I had not.  She was not convinced and was near tears asking over and over through the morning.  Finally, we decided we had to tell her. 

Sandi told her that, in fact SHE had moved the elf the night before and that I told her I hadn't because I hadn't.  Ella cried.  Hard.

She told us that she knew he kept track for Santa (she even said, "I still believe in Santa") but that it didn't make sense to her that he could fly every night.   At one point I asked her if she would rather we hadn't told her the truth.  She answered, "I'm glad you told me the truth. But I wanted to believe it.  I just wish that it was true. I don't like that the truth is that you move it." And she grieved all day long.  On and off tears she couldn't explain but I knew the cause. 

I feel like her childhood is slipping like sand between my fingers.

At least for now she still believes in the magic ornament that has candy inside it when Santa sees they are being good...


Raina @ Mamacita Spins The Globe said...

Wow. That's a tough one (I actually got a bit teary eyed reading this). Honesty is so important but when they're kids you want them to have some magic still. I think it is good that you guys explained, and yay for the magic ornament! ;) I always use the same line when I get the "so and so says Santa isn't real"... "Well, lots of people only believe in what they can see." "Do you believe Mama?" "I haven't found a good reason not to."

Carver Fam said...

Thanks Raina. I know it is helpful that we are always discussing the differences between families and diversity in beliefs in general. I like your answer :)

Gretchen said...

I just read a good way to handle the Santa myth with honesty: and then there was this on a blog I read a while ago:

Also, thank you for the book rec! Briar Patch had it, and I am so glad you mentioned it; I have a whole collection of kids books that had my name in it (not many) but I remember it being so special to see my name in print. Now I need to find one with an Ingrid!

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