See, the thing is, the moment was perfect. I was poised and ready, perfectly positioned to blow Santa's cover.
"Mommy, can you tell me why the box in your room said 'To Tucker, from Santa,' when it wasn't even Christmas morning yet and Santa hadn't been here yet?"
And here it is. My moment in time to kick the red punk in the shins and take the glory for myself. I gathered my cherubs around me for a moment we would all remember, the morning Mom Told The Truth.
I said, "Let's talk about things that aren't real. Like… Big Bird. Is he real?"
They laugh knowingly. "No, of course Big Bird isn't real. And neither is Elmo."
But we've never actually talked about how Elmo and Big Bird function and exist if they are not in fact real. And suddenly we were teetering a little too close to my own moral code of magic undefined.
I didn't know where to take the conversation. Next in line would be Mickey and Minnie, and they are woven into our family fabric. Disney princesses… no, no. Cinderella is my own personal fantasy. And for that matter, so is Princess Anna. The tooth fairy? She may be forgetful, but she gives courage for all that wiggling and loosening and bleeding.
"But it's fun for children to believe in them, Mommy. If you ask, like, a two-year-old or a four-year-old, she would say, 'Oh yes! Elmo is real!'"
In that moment, I knew that if I showed them the wizard behind the curtain, I would alter their view of the entire world. They would question it all, all the fun of pretending and the joy of not knowing for sure.
Once you know, you know. You can't give back the knowing.
So, I said, "Well, that tag was on that gift because… well, I was just helping Santa out."
"That was nice of you, Mommy."
"Yes. Well, you know. It's what moms do."
I bailed. Santa lives to see another year.