November 29, 2010. I will remember this date forever. The day that our lives changed forever. The day that we lost our a part of our life that we will never get back. The day that Santa died (at least in our house).
I knew it couldn't last forever. Nothing ever does. But, when it sneaks up on you and you are not prepared, it stings like a slushy snowball in the face.
Yesterday, Scout and I were sitting at the table visiting about school and other events of the day. She was doing her math homework while we visited. I asked her about Christmas and what she really wanted. I ask her if she was still interested in an iTouch or a DSI because I needed to have a discussion with Santa soon so that he could start getting her things ready. She looked up and said, "You can't talk to Santa. You wouldn't have any idea how to talk to him." I replied, "What are you talking about? Parents always know how to reach Santa." She paused a minute and said, "You're Santa, aren't you?" I immediately dismissed it and said something like, "What in the world are you talking about? Just finish your homework." I was stricken immediately with fear and looked at Cindy as she cooked dinner with an "Oh, no!" look on my face. We moved on to other stuff and thought that it was over - at least for now.
An hour later, as we'd finished up with dinner, Nik got up and left the table so that he could get ready for Lacrosse practice. As we finished up, Scout was still at the table, pushing her food around so that it would look like she was eating her food. I don't remember how the conversation came back around to Santa, but it did. I believe that Cindy asked Scout why was questioning the reality of Santa or something like that. It's all a blur now, but it was discussed again, nonetheless. I remember Cindy saying something like, "Scout, why do you think that there is no Santa?". Scout replied, "I don't know. I just think that Dad is the one who gets up at night and puts the toys under the tree." We asked her a couple more questions about it, but it came down to her asking the ultimate question - "Do you promise that you are not Santa?"
I looked at Cindy and we both knew at that minute, Santa will die in our home tonight. Cindy immediately started to cry. I looked at Scout with tears in my eye and said, "Sweetheart, I don't know what to say. I can't look at you and lie. But, if you are making me promise, then I have to tell you that.......I am Santa." I immediately started to cry. So, here we are, sitting at the table with our sweet little girl, with tears in our eyes, trying to compose ourselves. Scout looked at Cindy and started to cry as well. She kept patting her and saying, "Mom, don't cry, don't cry. It's OK. I'm not mad." Cindy said, "We aren't crying because you are mad, or that you're sad. We are crying because we're losing our little girl. You're growing up and it's hard for us to let that go."
Well, as I type this, I am once again starting to well up with tears. I have not been this emotional about anything in a very long time. I'm not sure why this milestone is so powerful to us, but it is. When Nik stopped believing it was more like a right of passage. We knew our boy was getting bigger. But, when it's your baby girl, it ain't the same. It just doesn't feel like anything that I've ever felt. I could never describe it, but I'm sure that I'm not the only parent to feel this way.
I am sad because there is no more Santa in our house. I am sad because there is no one left here to believe in Santa. And, I am sad because I will not get to eat cookies and milk left out for Santa while I write a clever note to leave behind for Scout to read. I am very sad. Santa has left the building...