Christmas is traditionally a time to come together, love one another… and stuff yourself senseless. But since having children, I’ve also discovered it’s a time to lie.
KITTY: I’m thinking of telling them that Christmas has been postponed. I’ll buy them stuff at the sales a few days later. What about you?
ME: Surfmats. I told the kids that Santa had sent out an email to parents in Australia saying he’d intended to load up the sleigh with surfmats.
KITTY: Good call.
I’ve heard all sorts of “exaggerations” from parents over the years. Like many of us, my friend Meg helps the kids put out a snack for Santa and Co. on Christmas Eve: carrots for the reindeers, biscuits and beer for Santa. One year, she opened the fridge and realized she only had one bottle of beer left. Hanging for a drink herself, she turned to her kids and said: “Let’s give Santa water. He got done for DUI last year.”
As you can see, I have some dreadful friends. But even they felt I went too far a couple of years ago. Santa’s Kingdom was in Sydney. Adults paid a fortune to have their precious cherubs ferried by a miniature train to the North Pole. Once there, they were each taken to a private sitting with Santa, before going into playland, which was filled with fake snow and expensive souvenirs. Unbeknownst to the kids, there were actually fifty Santas, all in separate booths. And one of these Santa’s was my ex-boyfriend.
My son, Buster, had just reached the age where there were murmurings at school. “Santa doesn’t exist. We’ve been duped. It’s a conspiracy.” That sort of thing. But my older son has always been quite sweet, quite innocent… rather gullible, which certainly worked to my advantage on this particular day. You see, I’d been having some problems with Buster… and figured a Santa with inside information was the solution.
We were guided to a specific booth, rather than simply the next available one. We entered, and there was my ex in a red suit… oops, I mean Santa.
SANTA: HO, HO, HO!
I blanched. Not a nice way to greet me in front of my son. Obviously he was still angry about the way I dumped him. Hopefully he’d rise above the name-calling…
SANTA: Hey Buster… you got a haircut… I almost didn’t recognize you. Oh by the way, congratulations on getting your junior blackbelt. I’m impressed.
Judging by the look on Buster’s face… so was he.
SANTA: Come here and sit on my lap.
How many times had I heard that before…? But my son made it there before I could.
SANTA: So Buster… my elves tell me you won’t go to bed. They tell me that your mum has been having a real tough time…
Buster’s mouth fell open…
SANTA: The elves also tell me that you’ve been mucking up at school, disrupting the class, especially your mate Harry.
Buster went thirteen shades of pale.
SANTA: But you’ve been a very good brother, very patient with Vesuvius, so I’m willing to make a deal. If you try harder at school next year… and start going to bed when asked from tonight… I’ll get you that bike you want.
Buster nodded an immediate agreement. He posed for a photo with Santa… gratefully accepted a lollipop (both things I’ve asked him not to do with strange men… go figure)… and then:
SANTA: Does Mummy want to sit on Santa’s lap for a moment?
ME: Ah… no thanks, Santa.
SANTA: Fair enough. Probably a good thing… you’ve put on a few kilos since I last saw you.
ME: Good to see you Santa. Acting school obviously paid off.
Cue our exit.
That night, Buster went straight to bed. And the next night. And the next. The following year, he was settled at school. Life was much easier. The only problem is that he’s now the only nearly-ten-year-old kid in history who still believes in Santa Claus… but I’ll wait until he leaves home to tell him the truth.