You just got Nicked!!!
December 21, 2010
by Shawn Bean
© Courtesy of the author
When I got home from work, there were two little shoes, one slightly bigger than the other, outside the front door. I learned from Brandy that Jackson’s class had learned about St. Nicholas that day. St. Nicolas was the original Santa Claus, a bearded bishop in 4th century Greece who left candy in the children’s shoes. Keeping with the spirit of the day, I put a few Hershey’s kisses and a candy cane in each Sketcher. But that wasn’t enough for me. So I wrote them a note from St. Nicholas. But even that wasn’t enough. So I put the note on St. Nicholas letterhead.
There it is – just to the right. I gave him a fake address (1000 Christmas Drive) and even included a picture of his house (a quick search for “Santa Claus house” on Google Images did the trick). The note reads:
Dear Jackson and Tanner,
Enjoy the candy. Be on your very best behavior for your mother and father, and be kind to others. Because Christmas will be here soon and it will be a very special day.
Sincerely, St. Nicholas
When I posted my little creation on Facebook, the comments came fast and furious. One friend wrote, “I did that on Christmas Eve for my nieces and nephews last year. I wrote in all capital letters to ‘disguise’ my handwriting. The oldest one said, ‘Why does Santa not know how to write lowercase letters?’” Here’s another: ‘Sincerely’...not the letter closing I would have expected from ol’ St. Nick. ‘Yours with tinsel on it,’ ‘Steering clear of the mistletoe,’ ‘One chimney away from greatness,’ ‘Watching you, as always.’” My buddy Tom wrote just three words: “Pure Nordic voodoo.”
I can’t blame Tom. In the days after drafting that letter, it became hard not to feel like a fraud. On many days, father seems like a synonym for “bulls*#t artist.”
“Lava is almost as hot as coffee. Right, Dad?” Right, son!
“Dad, the biggest number in the world is one hundred billion billion million billion.” It sure is!
As a dad, part of your job is to gently bulls@*t your kids because 1) you don’t have all the answers 2) you want to appear like the all-knowing paternal figure we all strive to be and 3) you don’t want to rain on their parade with boring facts and mundane realities. Kids the age of Jackson and Tanner think magically, not logically. At bathtime, Tanner still steps away from a swirling drain. On the way to his grandparents’ house, Jackson loves to point out the NASA rocket launch station. I don’t tell him it’s a minimum security prison.
I have no idea when or how I’m going to tell Jackson that Santa isn’t real. I’ve heard very few good strategies for doing so (here’s one I like). I also don’t know how I’m going to tell him that sometimes best friends do mean things, that girls will break your heart, that there are other fish in the sea, or if you practice hard you can make the team next year. Bad news is never easy. Maybe I’ll hire Ashton Kutcher to jump out with a TV crew on Christmas morning and yell, "There's no such thing as Santa! You just got Nicked!" Maybe I’ll let my kids think magically for now. Because once you trade magic for fact, there are no tradebacks.