real life

The one lie I happily tell my kids

Spoiler alert: if you still believe in the big red fat man, you may not want to read any further.

The worst thing my six-year-old can call someone is a liar: he thinks it’s just about the most terrible thing a person can be. When he realises another child has been untruthful (especially if the fallout is at his expense) his handsome little face contorts into a mask of outrage “But he’s lying, he’s a liar!”

We speak a lot about the virtues of truthfulness versus dishonesty in almost every situation. While I absolutely empathise with his outrage, it does not stop me from lying to him myself: every single day at the moment.

My hypocrisy and the depths of my deception hit me the other day when I was organising the boys’ personalised messages from Santa online. While they played around downstairs, I sneakily and gleefully plugged in all the little facts Santa would magically know about them, along with photos he would have on file in his ‘book’ on them. I kept getting these twinges about my son’s face when he feels deceived; but I kept ploughing on.

Later, seeing their priceless reactions brought a lump to my throat the size of Texas: Santa literally swam about on the laptop screen through the ocean of tears in my eyes. Seeing the absolute wonder on their cherubic, awestruck faces upturned to the computer screen, their mouths slightly agape, all of it more than justified my ‘deception’.

You see, I don’t lie to them about this just because everybody else does it. I do it because I’m grateful that my parents gave the gift of Santa to me; because in doing so, they gave me the right to believe that miracles can and do happen and I want my children to feel free to do the same. The gift of Santa is a thing of beauty. It’s better than any gift we can put under the Christmas tree. What better gift can we give our children than to believe in magic and miracles? To believe in something they can’t see or fully understand; because sometimes it’s a beautiful thing to just surrender and believe.

Of course, Christmas is most definitely about much more than Santa and presents. We set up the nativity scene each year and talk about baby Jesus’s birth and that Christmas is his birthday. We sing Away in a Manger and The Little Drummer Boy and talk about what the lyrics mean. We read How the Grinch Stole Christmas so they understand that Christmas will still come each year even if there were (shock horror) no presents because the joy of Christmas is inside of us.

ADVERTISEMENT

One of the sweetest memories I have is of slowly dancing around the living room to Away in a Manger with my milk-drunk, sweet-smelling, six-week-old first-born; kissing his sweet little head, and singing him his first Christmas lullaby. I was still basking in the miracle of his birth, and felt overcome with joy, gratitude and of the miracle of Christmas as a celebration of life. That’s what Christmas represents to me. Life and the very miracle of it: celebrating the here and now and who we have to share it with.

You can probably tell that the magic of Christmas is still very much alive and well for me. Despite this, I won’t lie (pardon the pun) but I do remember the moment I unveiled my parents’ deception about the existence of Saint Nick. I did feel deceived, and morally outraged sure, but I came to understand why they did it and how much I had enjoyed the notion of him. Mum also empowered me to keep right on believing if I really wanted to, and I went right ahead and did that as best I could. I intend to do the same thing for my boys and I hope they can read this one day and understand the gift they’ve been given.

So, yes, I will continue to lie to my children. Unashamedly; and I will not lose any sleep over it. I will continue to do so until I can get away with it no longer (read: until some other kid spoils it for them, or until they’re old enough to think “haaang on a minute”).

I will do so because I can see their little faces suffused with joy, the lights reflecting from the Christmas tree twinkling with magical possibilities.

Because there is magic in life, every day, even though (especially as an adult) those moments can seem few and far between.

Because God willing, my children are happy and healthy and while we can celebrate with such joy and bring as much magic into their lives as possible, we will.

Because it’s good for them; and heck, it’s good for us too.

Merry Christmas.

What happens if your kids start to doubt the existence of Santa? Do you go to great lengths to prove that he is real or do you just let it go? If you want to keep the magic going a little longer – here are 27 brilliant way to prove that Santa DOES exist. Maybe

00:00 / ???