The night Bryan ruined Christmas

This title is, of course, totally unfair, but let me explain…

Recently, Ava has expressed that she “just feels seven,” as if the impact of this new number has suddenly hit home. When I visit her room at 7 am, I find the door closed, with holiday-themed “Elves at Work” do not disturb sign hanging from the knob. The first time I encountered this, I was most definitely disturbed, and I swung open the door, only to find her fully dressed and tidying up around an already made bed. This strange behavior has continued throughout the week, and her newfound responsibility and maturity has spilled over into other areas as well.

Case in point: My intrepid seven-year-old arrived home after school last night, looked me straight in the eye and said:

“Mom. I need you to tell me the truth. Santa and the Easter Bunny aren’t real, right? You and Dad put out the presents, don’t you?”

I sidestepped, asking what prompted such a question. Apparently, the first grade class is divided, with half believing and half doubting. Ava felt she absolutely needed to know. RIGHT NOW.

I told her that I most definitely believed in the spirit of Santa.

It didn’t work.

I tried my own mother’s line: “You know, if you stop believing in Santa, he might not come anymore…”

This also failed.

At this point, I did what I usually do when faced with tough questions like, “How did the seed from Daddy get into your belly to make the baby?” and “What’s the difference between a planet and a star?” That is, I promptly directed her to her father.

And then, everything started spinning.

Bryan sat Ava down and told her that she was a smart and inquisitive child. He said she was seven now, and that he’d answer any question she had honestly. And then, when she asked again, he simply said, “No, there’s no Santa.”

While Ava sat there thoughtfully, I burst into uncontrollable sobs, a misstep I am sure will be far more memorable than the actual realization itself.

It seems terribly unfair that there’s only seven years of the magic that comes with such a belief. I was completely and totally unprepared for this phase to end—I had honestly never contemplated it before, and now, there was nothing that could be done. It was just . . . over.

I tried to regain composure, stifling sniffles as Bryan said, “It’s okay, Mommy just really loves Christmas,” and thinking to myself, “Why don’t you just put her on the pill and send her to college?”

I will also admit that at some point (and I think it’s fair to blame hormones here), I said both “Well, at least I have the NEW baby,” and “So help me God, if you tell your sister, Santa will never bring you another present again.”

Later in the evening, somewhere around the fourth or fifth time Ava checked to make sure I was okay, I regained some sensibility, apologized for my reaction, and told her that she was now—at least in part—responsible for carrying forth the spirit that allowed other children to believe. I said, she’d have to be an “elf at work.”

She promised me she’d do her very best, and I believe her.

I mean, she is SEVEN, after all.

9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Doug Smith on April 5, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Rebecca – These should be in a magazine or on Huff Post or something. Great writing!

  2. Posted by Nicky on April 5, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    It’s completely fair to blame it on the pregnancy hormones! I’m sorry your little girl is growing up so fast, but at least you do have the new baby soon. I’m sure Ava will be a fine elf at Christmastime 🙂

  3. Posted by Karyl on April 5, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Wow, I just don’t even know what to say! It does seem like she is growing up way too fast! And cleaning her room???

  4. Oh…this is sad! And I’m sad to say I laughed out loud when I read, “Why don’t you put her on the pill and send her to college.”

  5. Posted by Katie on April 5, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    Think of it this way: you’ll now get all the credit for the gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. And, you don’t have to worry about the big jerk bringing annoying gifts like those damn doorbells he brought last Christmas.

    Seriously though, I completely understand why this was so devastating.

  6. Posted by Laura on April 6, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Oh! This is heartbreaking! I am heartbroken.

    I agree with Dad–this story is so moving. Beautifully observed, beautifully written.

  7. Posted by Rebecca's Mom on April 6, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    This makes me so sad! Do you think she will be able to keep from telling her sister?

    Remember the Christmas Eve “Santa Claus” tapped on the bathroom window at our house? Ava was skeptical, even then.

    I’m thinking you should have waited to have her ears pierced. That’s probably what started all of this! 😉

    Love you!

  8. […] Of course, everyone seems to love posts in which I am a little too honest… Seriously. You guys like those. A lot. […]

  9. […] has never again referenced the conversation she had with Bryan this summer, perhaps choosing to forget it completely.  Olivia believes entirely, and seemed obviously […]

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