Christmas is supposed to be relaxing, not taxing. But from the perspective of a three year old, Christmas is a time for asking. For presents. For chocolate. And then for a bit more chocolate. And then “just one last bit, mummy,” followed by “just one more last bit.” At least I know what is going in next year’s stocking: a new set of bloody teeth.
But mainly, it transpires, Christmas was a time for asking questions about that great, mythical figure that looms large over proceedings. No, not daddy – Santa Claus, the greatest housebreaker that ever roamed the roof tops.
E is standing in front of our fire, a stove affair with a door and handle. “How does Santa open the door from the inside?” he enquires. Perhaps he is already imagining the horror of running downstairs on Christmas morning to find the smouldering remains of Father Christmas in the stove, his sooty, bearded face pressed against the glass door and rigor mortis already setting in to his red hat.
“Ah, Santa has a magic key that opens any stove door,” I reply.
“How does he park the sleigh on the roof?” E then asks. I feel he is thinking a tad too logically about the whole Santa-logistics thing.
“Well, Rudolph drops Santa off and parks on the lawn,” I explain. “Which is where we will leave the carrots.” I am hoping the mention of foodstuffs might sway him from his line of enquiry.
“How many carrots do we leave?” he asks. Jesus, what do you want, a spreadsheet and detailed itinerary?
“One for every reindeer,” I reply. Please, please don’t ask me how many reindeer there are.
“What does Santa eat?” Phew. Now, this is an easy one. There are no mince pies in this house, as mummy doesn’t like mince pies. “Chocolate biscuits,” I say. “Several. In case he is hungry.” Or indeed, in case I fancy a late night snack.
“How does Santa fly?” E then asks.
“Fairy dust.” This is the most plausible explanation, I feel, given that he has just seen Peter Pan and the children there need fairy dust to fly, so should E feel the need to cross-reference his sources he will find the ‘fairy dust’ solution pretty much water-tight.
“How does he fit all the presents in his sack?”
“Magic,” I reply. “A magic sack.” He’s just going to have to take my word on this one.
I briefly ponder the benefits of perpetuating this myth of ‘magic’. A previous quick online search had uncovered a whole swathe of parents who refuse to indulge their kids with the fairy tale of Santa, instead going straight for the jugular of truth and bluntly telling it how it is. Bollocks to that. Lying to your kids is a parent’s prerogative, is it not? If you have to endure the tantrums, the vomiting, the eighty-two rounds of When Santa got Stuck up the Chimney, then the very least we deserve is the facility to tell great big, juicy whoppers. I don’t really consider telling kids about Santa a white lie. It is too big for that. Not so much white, or even a subtle pastel, but perhaps purple. With a bit of glitter. But I am happy to run the gamut of untruths from white to black, quite frankly.
After all, it will be years before he realises that daddy has not, in fact, got Santa on speed dial for when E is being naughty. Personally, if he still believes that when he is sixteen I will feel my work here has been done.