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December 19, 2011

Why I Lie To My Kids About Santa

Santa-claus-rankin-bass"Dad, do you believe in Santa?" They're both old enough to ask this now, past that age where they just assume everything, and start to question the things we tell them. The Age Of Why. 

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If you didn't think about the reason for it, the sight was impressive: a police helicopter, hovering in the canyon behind my house, rotor blades whirring below rooftop level, just hanging there. It would move a few yards every few minutes. They were looking for someone, and the initial thought was that this was a rescue mission - maybe someone had wandered off the trail and tripped over a hidden rock and sprained an ankle, or perhaps one of the neighborhood kids had gone on a bike ride and had taken a tumble. But no. Below, the police cars sat in the small trailhead parking lot, a few officers milling about. There were no lights, no sirens, no real sense of urgency. Later, I'd see the news: a woman who lived in the townhouses just down the street had gone missing on Thanksgiving morning. Foul play was suspected, and later confirmed: Kathleen Cary Scharbarth had been murdered by her ex-boyfriend, in her home, which is a five minute walk from ours. Lucas had seen the helicopter as well. He asked why it was flying around our house. I told him that sometimes the police practice looking for people who may have gotten lost. 

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I came across this comment, in a blog post about telling your kids the truth about Santa:

Screen shot 2011-12-19 at 9.53.29 AM

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"We had a lockdown drill today." "Oh, yeah?" "Yeah. It was pretty exciting." Last October, I was working in the home office when the Tweets started rolling in, the words "gunman" and "shooting" and "Carlsbad elementary school" leaping off the screen. A man had calmly driven up to the campus of Kelly Elementary School with a .357 Magnum and a can of propane; he opened fire on the kids, and hit two of them before being wrestled to the ground by some construction workers. The gun, you see, wasn't enough; he was going to use that propane to blow up as much of the school as he could. It occured to me, much later, that Lucas and I might have heard the explosion from our desks. It also occured to me that he's a much older seven year old than I ever was. "Well", I said, "those lockdown drills are important." 

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"Dad, do you believe in Santa?" I didn't hesitate. 

"Sure. Why not?"



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