21 November 2010
I'm not talking about those harmless white lies we all tell our children. You know, when you've had a hard day and you put them to bed early but you don't tell them it's only 6pm. Or when they want a seventh yoghurt and you tell them there aren't any left and you'll put them on the shopping list.
What I'm talking about is Father Christmas. Do you tell a tissue of festive lies or do you come clean about the big fella with the white beard and red outfit?
The big argument for telling the truth is that your child may be devastated when they discover that you have been deceiving them for years. Has this happened to anyone? Were you the child who didn't like having the cotton wool beard pulled over their eyes?
For me, as a child, the excitement I experienced every Christmas was priceless. I remember it as a magical time. My brother and I would decorate a box that we left by our beds. Father Christmas had to leave one present in these boxes so we would know that he'd been. Our large stockings were waiting downstairs. We didn't notice that Father Christmas had used the same wrapping paper as Mum. We weren't concerned that he had the same handwriting as Mum.
I thought I saw him once. When I was five we had friends staying. I was sleeping on a camp bed in Mum and Dad's bedroom. I say 'sleeping', I was trying to sleep, but far too excited. When I heard footsteps on the stairs I turned to face the wall. I saw a red reflection in the radiator. Then, relieved, I slept.
I think it dawned on me when I was nine that maybe Father Christmas didn't exist. I felt neither disappointed or cheated. I pretended I still believed so that my younger brother wouldn't find out. Christmas was still magical. Until I left home the same sacks would appear downstairs every Christmas morning.
I'm almost certain I want my children to experience the excitement, joy and magic of believing in Father Christmas, but it's only possible if we all take part in the big Christmas lie, isn't it? Can Christmas be just as magical without the jolly bearded chap and his flying reindeer?
If you have decided not to take part in the great Christmas deception, what will you tell your children about Father Christmas? Do you think your child will be the odd one out at school? Are you worried your child will spoil it for the rest? I'd love to know what you think.
Ho ho ho!