I knew this day was coming. Quite frankly, I thought it was long overdue and I had been suggesting to Shayne that we sit Shayla down and have that talk - no, not "that talk" we had that one years ago and continue to bring it up and purchase reading materials for her. You know, the "other talk" - the one about Santa.
My BG students knew it had been bugging me. I am always in my classroom early and make small talk with them as they drift in or hang after class. "She's so bright. She CAN'T POSSIBLY believe in Santa Claus, right?" and "I feel like she's never going to trust me or come to me about anything else because she now thinks I'm a liar letting her believe in Santa." My students shared their experiences with discovering the truth over the past couple of weeks with me and basically what they told me boiled down to two things:
1.) She knows,
but she doesn't want to tell you she knows because she thinks her gifts will get cut in half at least.
2.) She doesn't know.
When the other kids her age were talking about Santa on the bus, she was still riding to and from school with you. Now the middle school kids talk about sex on the bus so she totally missed it and she still believes.
I even had one young woman track me down after the final to say, "Just wanted to let you know that when I was in sixth grade, I still believed. I had no idea it was my parents until they told me after my sixth grade Christmas. Let her believe until she comes to you. It's ok. She'll be ok."
I think perhaps because I learned the evil truth about Santa (smile, it's really ok!) when I was only five years old, before my kindergarten Christmas and because that was so shocking and sad, I wanted my own children to enjoy and believe for along as possible. I was so happy, when Christi died, that she still believed. It just seems to me that once you know about Santa, a part of your childhood, your innocence, is forever gone and I wanted to postpone that for as long as possible.
(Shayla and Shayne - December 1999, 10 months old)
For the past couple of days, whenever "Santa" has come up, Shayla has been saying, "Santa - you mean you!" Hmmmmm. I didn't know how much she knew and I didn't want to ruin her life (wink) by talking about it. Oh, what to do. (At one point she asked, "Are you going to have me email my list to 'Santa' again this year because if so, I'm emailing you." I didn't respond, but I soon got an email on my Blackberry containing her list. So after that little confirming stunt, we had that Santa talk.) She said she didn't really believe last year, you know about flying reindeer and stuff, but she still thought there might be a guy bringing presents. This year she knows it's all your parents. And she did consider not confessing because she thought we might not have a really good Christmas or get her any presents if she told. Oh, my students were right on the money about that one (and I'm still really thinking hard about that middle school bus conversation - ohhhh my!)
The girls with Shayne, 2000: Shayla, 1 1/2, Christi 3 1/2 yrs old
Well, I knew this talk was coming and I was ready. I knew she'd have an absolute blast learning that Shayne, her awesome daddy, use to be the Santa who would come to our home before Christmas. When Christi died that made me sad, knowing I'd never be able to show her the picture of her sitting on Santa's lap and crying her eyes out and telling her it was her loving daddy - who was just as shocked that she reacted that way. So, praise be to God, I got to share those awesome, wonderful memories with Shayla. We stayed up way too late talking about it all and sharing pictures with her last night. When she asked how the tradition started, I shared that my father used to dress up for us and then for the grandchildren until he died. Then Shayne took over. Oh, what a hoot! Now "Little Miss Christmas" wants Shayne to start dressing up and going to people's homes again like he used to do because SHE wants to play the role of Santa's Elf and go in and help! God love her!
Shayla laughed and laughed at this last night saying, "If she only knew it was her own Dad, that is soooooo funny!" I know, Christi would have tried to pull off his beard and kiss his face all over. Oh, she loved her amazing daddy!
THE PICTURE at the very top of this entry is the last time Shayne played Santa for the girls, December 2001: Shayla 2, Christi 4 She was diagnosed before the next Christmas and Shayne knew he'd look at Christi, with her bald little head, and absolutely break down and sob. He knew he could never do it again - and he didn't.