Honest, I didn’t mean to spill the beans

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I messed up last week – big time.

It was so bad that I have consulted a professional in the hopes that I prevent another family from the devastation experienced last week in the Nelson household.

You see, I spilled the beans about Santa Claus.

The act was quite unintentional. We had a load of Christmas shopping to do, so I sat down to make a list of the necessary gifts. The two youngest ones – ages 8 and almost 7 – were in the back of the house doing whatever it is children do when their parents aren’t watching. Later, I found out that was taping “I (heart) U” on the entertainment center with $8-a-roll painter’s tape, but that’s another story for a different day.

The oldest, who’d just turned 12, sat down with me on the couch, and I told her what I was doing.

I should back up and say that for the last year or so, she’d given me the ol’ wink, wink, nudge, nudge when we talked about all things related to Santa. I genuinely thought she’d come to the conclusion about the Jolly Ol’ Man himself on her own.

Well, on this particular day, I made an off handed comment about reminding myself to picking up stocking suffers on my next shopping trip. She said, “Why? Santa brings those.”

I remember raising my eyebrows at her and asked, “Do what? I put that stuff in the stockings, you know that.”

In hindsight, that probably wasn’t the thing to say, but that’s what came out of my mouth.

She had a meltdown and actually said that this was the worst year of her life – her Memaw died, and she found out Santa wasn’t real. Then, she handed me an 11×14 sheet with “Santa is real” scribbled on it 475 times.

Since then, she’s mellowed out about it – thank goodness – and has gotten into the spirit of finding her sisters’ gifts.

Later in the week while attending a holiday party, I asked other parents about their “breaking the news” experience and found out it went a lot better for them than it did for me.

We all agreed that it was wonderful she’d held on to her childlike innocence about the holiday, but that she probably was past time for knowing the truth.

Still, I felt – and still feel – horribly guilty.

So to avoid that mistake with the other two – if I can get the oldest to keep her trap shut – I’ve asked a professional when and how you should break the news.

I’ll let you know what I find out.