I will never forget when I found out Santa wasn’t real. My mom thought I had seen the Christmas presents in the trunk (I hadn’t). She assumed the jig was up and spilled the beans. I was so disillusioned and for a while, Christmas morning kind of lost some of its excitement. It was inevitable, of course, that I would find out Santa and his magical reindeer were all a pack of lies, but my ignorance was fun while it lasted.
I know the whole Santa thing is just a part of childhood, but honestly, I was a little torn about perpetuating the farce with my daughter, as odd as that may sound. On one hand, it makes Christmas more fun for her (and us), at least for a few years. On the other, we will have to contend with the inevitable day our trickery would be revealed.
A visit to my sister’s this Thanksgiving put the wheels in motion to draw us even further into this web of holiday-themed deception, all thanks to Chippy, the Elf on the Shelf.
Chippy came the day after Thanksgiving. Having gone through a Christmas or two, my sister’s oldest child explained to my daughter the deal with the elf and that was that. Starla arrived at our house a couple of days later along with the Elf video, because how could you possibly figure out the story about the Elf with a book alone? Hey, at least I didn’t buy the extra Elf clothes. Yes, there are actually outfits and accessories.
I’m not sure my daughter is totally buying this whole Elf thing lock, stock and barrel either. While she seems to embrace the idea that this Big Brother-like creature is the eyes and ears for Santa, she also seems dubious that there will be any real consequences for not falling into line. So far, Starla’s omniscient presence has failed to prevent a couple of meltdowns over critical matters, such as going to the grocery store BEFORE we see the three houses with Christmas lights out in our neighborhood. My daughter also doesn’t seem to be deterred by the whole “touch the elf and she’ll lose her magic" thing. She apparently likes to play fast and loose with the possibility of elf magic loss due to hugs. You pick your battles, I say.
So, while we started with Santa, now with the addition of Starla, we deepen our web of lies and deceit in an effort to encourage good behavior. This has had mixed results. I know, I know, so what will you do December 26? Lalala I can't hear you. I have Starla and Santa for the next 25 days.
Thankfully, there are more times when she is sweet, loving, and fun than when she’s a walking emotional explosion. However, when fits of rage occur, we try making empty threats about Starla reporting back to Santa and potentially impacting our little volcano’s chances of getting Calico Critters under the tree. All lies, of course. She’ll get those freakin’ Calico Critters.
As a parent, I’ve found at this age that a level of deception, or misdirection, is necessary for survival. I’ve mastered a few well-honed distraction techniques or outright fibs (My phone is almost out of juice, so you can’t go on YouTube. Oh look, a puppy!). However, perpetuating the web of lies we tell at Christmas puts this on a whole different level. It’s so…involved and also kind of fun. I feel a little guilty, (just a little), knowing one day she’ll find out she’s been lied to for years, though, hey, kids have survived that before and so will she. Nevertheless, right now, that time is years away and today, I’ve got to go move an Elf.