Complicated fib, this Father Christmas thing.
It's great when they are little. As long as they aren't terrified out of their wits by the prospect of a strange, bearded man wandering around the house at night, then the magic is irresistible. They go to bed. Empty stocking. They wake up and....ta da... presents.
But then it starts to get tricky. Whilst I am generally delighted that my children are curious and question the world around them, I wish they would just take Santa at face value. Each year the plots and sub plots get more complicated as their enquiring minds develop. I have to think with the speed of a master criminal just to keep one step ahead of them. The occasional slip up is to be expected. If caught out, I change my story and move on. If I'm really stuck, I fall back on the rather feeble explanation that it's all magic.
Some of these may sound familiar.
'Yes I think Santa shops in Next too.'
'I'm not sure why Auntie June's present is wrapped in the same paper as your gifts from Santa.'
'I don't think Santa brings expensive electronic gadgetry for bedrooms.'
'I think he does have a budget.'
' I'm not sure it's a good idea adding something new to your letter at 5pm on Christmas Eve.'
You get the picture. But I have children of two ages. Whilst the Little Ones are on the cusp of discovery as far as the Father Christmas myth is concerned, the Big Ones have long since moved on. With various nods and winks they assist me with the conspiracy and wouldn't dream of spoiling it. But it is also important to maintain a degree of mystery for them too. Tempting though it is to discuss the complications of the lie with them, I have resisted.
Older children also bring a whole different set of problems with them.They go to sleep late. I go to sleep early, particularly when here is a family infused cooking fest to be dealt with the following day. This is another area where a degree of foresight on my part would have been helpful about fifteen years ago. Why did I encourage the excited toddler to place their stocking on their bed instead of hanging it on their door handle? Could I not foresee the difficulties I was creating for myself? Of course not. And so I sneak about trying not to rustle as they lie there pretending, for the sake of good form, to be asleep.
Of course I adore the excitement that goes hand in hand with the Father Christmas story but if I'm totally truthful, I shall not be sorry when it strikes them just how very unlikely it is and we can all happily pretend. Until then, I will track his progress with my Norad app and marvel at the speed with which he covers the ground.I will leave out mince pies and carrots and savour that moment in the morning when they see that, yet again, the magic has not let them down.
Merry Christmas to you all and may Father Christmas bring you everything your heart desires... because it is magic after all!