Before I had children I was so full of good intentions. I wasn’t going to tell them that Father Christmas was real. I wasn’t going to lie. I was going to be cool and say things like…
“Well what do you think?”
“This is what some people believe, but some people don’t.”
“We can hang your stocking up and see what happens.”
I didn’t want to ruin it for her, but equally so I didn’t want to start my parenting career by lying to her and thus undermining all truths I’ve told her on the day she finds out about the lie. How could she possibly know what to believe? What’s real? If she can disregard years of experiences as falsehoods, why not ignore other things I’ve told her as falsehoods also?
I was so full of good intentions.
I’ve threatened to phone Santa about seven times this week already. Last week I actually did phone him. On speaker phone. And hearing me say “Hello Santa!” in a rather pointed voice when he answered the phone, my father immediately adopted a deepened voice and insisted that yes, only good little boys and girls get presents and he would certainly be telling his elves to keep a watch on Miss Rose and Z. (Thanks Dad!)
I’ve also said they’ll be hanging up their stockings for Father Christmas. The elves are busy sorting out their presents. Santa always knows if they’ve been naughty and mummy gives him regular updates. I’ve said he comes down the chimney, flying reindeer pull his sleigh, and Rudolph’s nose glows.
In short, I’ve lied my ass off.
The thing is, I actually find Father Christmas kind of creepy! I was a grotto elf a couple of Christmasses ago, and a damn good one at that, and Santa was creepy. Of course, it could just have been the Santa I was elfing for, but either way.
He’s a man who watches children and sneaks into their house at night. Creepy. And not something I particularly want to tell Rose happens!
Yet that’s exactly what I’m doing.
I’d like to say it’s all because I want the magic to last. Christmas was magical for me, truly magical. I remember the way my heart raced and my palms sweat as I woke up on Christmas morning. I remember waking my mum up, waking my dad up, waking my brother up (who was never as invested in the magic as me). I remember tiptoeing down the stairs and peering round into the living room to see my stocking hanging on the fireplace stuffed with toys, a new Barbie or a pair of roller skates waiting for me from the big man himself. Even now writing about it I can feel the familiar churning in my stomach from the memory. It was magic. If magic ever existed in the world, then Christmas morning is it.
I want that for my children. I want them to feel that. I want them to listen for sleighbells when they wake in the night, wonder desperately if he’s been yet, long for morning with desperate excitement. I want that for them.
But in truth, my motivation is not so pure.
It’s been really useful have something to hold over them…
I’m not proud of that, but it’s true. Father Christmas only comes to good girls and boys. “Stop that right now or I’m phoning Santa!” has produced immediate falling into line on enough occasions that I am completely in love with it and the fact it’ll lose it’s power for another year from very soon is a hard pill to take.
But in turn, I do want the magic. I want it so badly for them.
When they woke up last year, the first year they’d really had a concept of what was going on, I felt it. I felt the churning stomach, the racing heart. I was caught up in the excitement again as I watched them feeling it too. The way Rose’s hopeful little face looked up at me as we crept down the stairs to see if she’d been delivered a Ninja Turtle, the way Z screamed in glee when he spotted the cuddly Jack Skellington I’d been so thrilled to find for him sitting at the top of his stocking. The way Rose carefully examined every toy with wonder, amazed at how Father Christmas knows exactly what she likes. The way Z tucked into the chocolate buttons he was allowed to eat for breakfast.
It was magic for them and, in turn, it was magical for me. I knew what was waiting, I knew what they’d see. But it didn’t matter. It was completely and utterly magically exciting and being a mother brought back all those feelings of childhood that had fallen away for twenty odd years.
Am I proud that I lie? No.
Is it against all my intentions? Yes.
Will I keep doing it? Hell yes.
I will keep lying to my children for as long as they let me. Because when they lose the magic they’ll have to wait to get it back until they have children of their own and that’s an awfully long wait… though it’s totally worth it.
You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.
Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!