My name is Santa Claus. And my days are numbered.
Today is Christmas Eve and I’m going to be waiting anxiously tonight for my daughters to fall asleep, tip toeing into their room to see if either of them is trying to stay up late to sneak a peek at St. Nick. The wood floors in the hallway creak loud enough to wake the dead so I’ll have to use my best ninja skills to maneuver to their doorway. And when I’m sure that they’re out, when I hear that chainsaw like sound of their snoring and see the tiny puddles of drool forming on their pillows, I’ll know that the coast is clear and I can begin the metamorphosis from Dad to Kris Kringle.
Christmas has always been very important in my family. My Grandpa used to decorate the trees and create the Christmas displays for Dayton’s Department Store in Minneapolis and even built his own elaborate Christmas village that we still display over half a century later. He passed on his love of the holidays to my Mom who would obsess over every little detail when trimming the tree. Put the lights deep into the tree to create depth, small ornaments up high and large ones towards the bottom, make sure to put the more reflective ornaments near lights to get them to shine. And that love of Christmas was passed down to her children as well. At nearly 40 years old it is still my absolute favorite time of the year.
So naturally when my first daughter was born, one of the things that I looked forward to the most was the holidays. It was my turn now to take up the title of Santa Claus. It was my turn to continue the traditions passed down through the generations as well as creating brand new ones for us to celebrate. Being able to create the kind of magic and wonder that a child feels when they wake up on Christmas morning and tiptoe out to the living room to see that mound of presents that magically appeared overnight has been one of the absolute highlights of being a dad. So it honestly pains me to know that I only have maybe another year or two before that magic is lost forever.
My oldest daughter is going to be turning eight next week and the other day she informed me that she didn’t believe in the Easter Bunny any more. I asked her if she thought Santa Claus was real and waited for the heart crushing answer, but she thankfully responded “Of course!”. So while I may have gotten a temporary reprieve, I know that my time is running out. The seeds of doubt have been planted and it’s only a matter of time before the truth is out. This is the girl that asked for a DNA extraction kit for Christmas this year so I know she’ll figure it out sooner rather than later. She’ll probably crunch the numbers on the physics required for a sleigh to fly and debunk it that way.
That’s not to say that Christmas won’t be fun after she exposes me for the fraud that I am. There will still be the joy of getting together with our family, playing a heated round of Mario Kart, watching everyone open their gifts, and eating a whole bunch of those little coconut peaks dipped in chocolate. But I suspect that it won’t be quite the same. The “magic” of Christmas won’t be there anymore. No more staring out of the window trying to catching a glimpse of Rudolph soaring through the sky. No more magic elf hanging out on our shelf. No more lists to send off to the North Pole.
When it comes down to it though, as long as we’re still able to be with each other and laugh and tell stories, Christmas will always be my favorite time of the year. Nothing will ever be able to take that away. So in the meantime I’ll just enjoy these last couple of years as jolly old St. Nick while I can. And at least once she knows the truth I’ll be able to recruit her as Santa’s little helper to keep the magic alive for her little sister for a few more years.