In other Christmas news, Fred came up to me the other day when Una was at the other end of the room and hissed 'Just tell me quickly, is Santa real or is it just parents?'
I said 'what do you think?'
She said: 'Santa?' (doubtfully). I raised my eyebrows in a way that I hoped was non-commital.
She said, 'Just tell me.'
We went down to the bedroom. And it emerged, that yes, Santa was parents. And she was cool with that, really. She'd figured as much, probably ages ago.
And then - tragic that I am - I went and looked myself in the bathroom and cried for about 20 minutes. I don't know why it affected me so much. And I'm okay about it now. But it was like, all of a sudden, some of the magic of Christmas, the magic that you wait so long to return after your own fall from grace, so you can experience it through your children, was sucked away again. It was like I fell all over again (though I honestly have no memory of the transition from belief to non-belief). Honesty was always my policy, but also it was convenient for us for Fred to know the truth, that we can't afford big presents this year - we'd said as much only earlier that day, how it would be a relief when it was all out in the open. 'Did I sell out Fred's childhood,' I asked Martin, 'for our convenience?' No, no. Of course we didn't. She asked. She wanted to know the truth*.
Don't tell Una, we said. You mustn't tell Una. And she hasn't.
But she did come home from school and say to me mystified, 'I tried to tell some of the other kids at school and they wouldn't believe me!'
Oh my god. We clutch her and plead - we're doing some serious facetalking now: 'Don't tell ANYONE. It's not for you to tell.'
'But they wouldn't believe me!' And I can tell she's tried - really tried - to convince them. I'm gutted that it's our kid who's the whistle blower. Me! How could this happen?
Strangely enough we still managed to get Fred to sit with Santa.
I wonder if it will be the last time? She was very shy, and obviously felt like a bit of a dill. Not so Una, she told Santa all about the walking talking blinking pony she wants and the doll who can really ride it and really hold on all by itself and say anything Una wants it to say. We didn't get an official shot this year, Martin's card wouldn't scan when it came time to pay. Luckily Martin had got a few snapshots with the phone. And this photo is much more natural than the pose they called for - seriously, let the kids talk to Santa for thirty seconds before getting them to switch on the fake smiles for the camera!
*I am a little ashamed to tell you that a few days later when she asked about the tooth fairy as I was looking at her teeth (quick Mum, come downstairs for a minute), I looked her in the eye and said 'Oh no, the tooth fairy's real.' I just couldn't face that fall too, not before she's even lost a single tooth.