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Alison Gaylin: The Truth about Santa

Alison Gaylin: The Truth about Santa

(Not suitable for those who are still visited by Santa!)

Christmas means a lot of different things – carols and snow drifts and twinkling lights, sumptuous meals shared with close friends and loved ones, overcrowded department stores and enormous plastic snowflakes on streetlights and that damn Mariah Carey song on the radio every time you turn it on . . .

But for me, when my daughter was young, Christmas mostly meant dodging difficult questions. I should have been prepared for this. You tell an intelligent, inquisitive child that a fat old man is going to squeeze down the chimney while she sleeps, leaving a sack of presents in his wake, you should expect some follow-up.  The thing is, I didn’t figure on the questions being so . . . well . . . hard to answer.

Here are a few of my favourites:

‘If Santa is at the mall, where did he park his sleigh? I didn’t see it in the parking lot.’

‘How does Santa fit through the chimney if he’s so fat?’

‘If you live in a house with no fireplace, how does he leave you presents?’

‘Does Santa only like children who have fireplaces?’’

‘How come no one ever hears all those reindeer landing on the roof?’

‘Why don’t the reindeer leave footprints in the snow? Why doesn’t Santa?’

‘Why does Santa use the same wrapping paper that we do?’

Now that my daughter is twelve, I’m no longer fielding Santa questions, but I have been thinking about those days a lot as it occurs to me: beyond the lights and the songs and the food and the merriment, Christmas affords us the opportunity to really put one over on our kids. And better still, it gives them the chance to call us on it.


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