Sally found me in the living room.
I deftly hid the remaining wrapping paper under the sofa. “Sweetie, why are you up? You should be in bed.”
She crawled onto the sofa. “I have a very serious question.”
“Okay. Then you go back to bed. You have your jammies on, and that means Night Time Sleepy Time.”
“My question is, is Santa Claus real?”
Sally bundled her stubby legs to her chest, watching me expectantly. The question hung in the air. She looked at me with faint hope that I would demolish the doubts in her mind and perpetuate the last bit of magic left in her six-year-old life.
Why is it a holiday tradition to lie to your kids for years only to shove it in their face? I suddenly realized how idiotic the whole thing was. I wrapped up presents and told her they came from a fat man sliding down the chimney. To perpetuate the lie, I put out cookies and milk and ate them myself. In addition, I showered her with hours of propaganda, like Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. And all for what? To create some childhood innocence just to shatter it like a cinderblock to a glass wall? Should I have been upfront from the beginning, and raised her as a Santa atheist? Would she have been ostracized from her classmates for that? She probably would’ve still had her childhood innocence. It doesn’t require a spiderweb of lies to make kids cute.
There's no manual for this. You know that you’ve come to a line. Your relationship with your child will be defined by the moments before and after the conversation.
I’ve never been good at this. I buckled.
“Santa is dead, Sally. He was shot down last night by a tactical supersonic missile.”
Her jaw fell ajar. “Who shot Santa?”
“The US government. They’ve had a war on Christmas since the ‘90s.”
“Why does the government hate Santa?”
“Well, you see, President Trump is a man who insults people, and Republican policies habitually take money and means from the poor, so Santa has been giving them all coal for years because they’ve been so bad.”
“Why won’t they be nice?”
“Republicans don’t like handouts. The idea of getting free presents goes against their ideology.”
“But how could they shoot down Santa? He’s too fast.”
“We have a robust military industrial complex, so-”
“The bombs were very quick and hit the sled.”
“Did the reindeer get away? What about Rudolph?”
“Two F-16 fighter jets strafed them and riddled them with bullets. Their bodies landed in Toledo, but they were so high up they were reduced to ash in re-entry.”
“But what about the elves and Mrs. Claus?”
“Mrs. Claus passed away from pancreatic cancer a decade ago. The elves have been apprehended by Seal Team Six. They’ll be sent to work camps in Indiana to help boost American manufacturing.”
About the Author
TOMMY GRIMLY earned a Creative Writing degree from The University of Wisconsin-Madison.
His plays have been performed in DC and NY, while his short fiction has been previously published in The Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Illumination, and Turk's Head Review. In the autumn, he will begin pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at The University of British Columbia.