kids

"Dear Mum. Thank you for letting me believe in Santa - and for surprising me every Christmas."

NRMA
Thanks to our brand partner, NRMA

Almost every year, on approximately December 1st, a prickly debate about Santa raises its head.

We have opinion pieces fill our news feeds lamenting the current state of a fictitious old man in a red suit, with a fluffy beard, and reindeer that fly his sleigh across the world in one night.

The headlines often read something like this:

“Why you should NEVER lie to your kids that Santa exists” or, “How lying about Santa will make your children UNGRATEFUL FOREVER”.

You know, those articles that always make you feel like you’re doing a great job as a parent.

After many years of passively consuming these articles, half-doubting if, in fact, a catastrophic error had been made in my childhood where I believed in Santa, I am standing right here, right now, to defend the Santa “lie”.

Or, in my case, I am defending the Santa Bubble. The wonderful, incredibly magic bubble of Santa goodness my mother wrapped me in for the first 10 years of my life.

My lil' family on Christmas day (note: my step-dad is behind the camera, so still there!)

Oh, I know, it’s an awful cliché of the “Santa Bubble”, but let me explain.

When I was two, my parents split up and my brother Ryan and I quickly became accustomed to the two-family, two-house life. On Christmas Day, no matter whose house we woke up we wanted to be at the other parent’s and as soon as we left, we wanted to go back.

So there were always lots of trips, back and forth. Despite many people joking two families meant we could have double the presents, it was immaterial when all we wanted was one home.

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To help us escape from the confusion that often came with Christmas Day, my mother invented a little Santa bubble we could explore.

On Christmas Eve, when we were at her house, at 6pm, Mum would take us into the bathroom where we could look through the window and at the stars. She would point to one of the stars and we would be sure it was Santa, somewhere in the world.

As we stood in the bath, trying to spot Santa, bells would ring in the background, which was DEFINITELY CERTAINLY UNDOUBTEDLY the reindeer bells coming closer to Australia.

We honestly have a Santa photo from every year.

Minor nerves and excitement would fill Ryan and me, but the bells were only faint. He was probably in Fiji or New York.

The sound of the bells meant that it was time for us to start prepping the house for Santa and the reindeer. First thing to do: leave carrots outside and a big bowl of water for the reindeer.

Bells would start ringing again. Ryan and I would look up at Mum, then at the stars. Santa is closer now.

Then, the Christmas tree. We would make sure all the ornaments looked perfect and the lights were on, so our house could definitely be found.

Bells were ringing again. They’re louder.

Mum would get a lemonade and brownies for Santa (according to mum, Santa was very tired of drinking milk and eating cookies by the time he was at our house).

The bells are very, very loud now. Maybe he’s in Sydney? Or Perth? What about Cairns? Just closer to us.

The final thing to grab were our Santa sacks - we'd place them outside the room and Mum would read us a Christmas story book and we would “sleep”.

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Which meant lay almost paralysed with excitement because Santa was definitely at the Sunshine Coast by now and that meant he was so close to us.

Our Christmas tree: no organisation, just all the decorations.

We always slept though, and at about 4.30am, Ryan would jump into my bed with his Santa sack and we would wait for Mum to wake up.

As soon as she wandered into our room, we would grab each other and see the utter mess that Santa and his reindeer had left.

The lemonade would be gone and only crumbs left of the brownie. All through the house, snow covered the floor - Santa’s footsteps traced to our sacks.

Outside, the reindeer would have left all their nibbled bits of carrot, the water would be tipped over because they would be so darn messy. We would step around the reindeer poo, which had been left ALL OVER THE DRIVEWAY. My mother would tut at those very naughty reindeer.

Ryan and I couldn’t explain it. Particularly, those bells. Mum was always there. The bells.

For a small moment in time, we were free. We were free from the tears of tomorrow when we had to leave. We were free from the moment of “handover”. We were just kids who stared at stars and listened to bells because Santa was coming.

Fast forward to today, where my mum has explained to me the lengths she would go to for our Christmas Eve.

Firstly, of course she didn’t want milk left for Santa as someone who never drank milk.

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After she was sure we were asleep, she would get baby powder out and stomp all through the house, like Santa would have.

The actual reindeer/horse poo. Plus, our home-made Christmas tree, which the reindeer has "knocked down".

She would even nibble at all the carrots, like the reindeer had eaten them. And, the reindeer poo she bought by driving to farms and picking up horse poo. For real.

What about the bells? She would always be there.

Mum would have neighbours or my step-dad ring the bells when we were right beside her, to complete the magic.

She did it. For those years, where our childhood was split between two homes, she created a bubble where magic could live. Where parents didn’t fight. Where no-one had to leave. Where Santa could briefly bring magic into our world.

And, I don’t hate my mother for that. For this “lie”. I am not (at least, in her opinion) ungrateful.

I couldn’t be more grateful for what she did for us. She let us believe and wonder and see the world like it was magic, and I couldn’t ever resent her for that.

abby-ballard-and-brother-christmas
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Ryan and I a few years ago. Still doing the Christmas photos. We promised.

In a world that can be so cruel, where our news is genuinely scary and families aren’t always forever, my mum gifted me our Santa bubble.

Sure, not everyone has to dive out to regional Queensland to get horse poo for Christmas, but letting me believe in magic is one of the greatest gifts my mother has ever given me.

Thank you, mum. From five-year-old Abby, to Abby today. Thank you.

P.S. Massive shout-out to my step-father who stepped into this madness and embraced the horse poo duty.

What are the greatest lengths you've gone to for Christmas with kids? Share your stories with us below!

And have a safe, happy Christmas, whichever home you'll be travelling to.

This content was created with thanks to our brand partner NRMA.

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