Richard Ord: How I killed Santa

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I KILLED Santa this week.

It wasn’t pleasant. Stripped him of his sack of presents, ripped his beard off and stamped on his bobble hat. Humiliated the guy.

His sleigh didn’t escape either. Torched it. Whoompf! It nearly took my eyebrows off.

To his credit he didn’t make a fuss. No begging for mercy, no embarrassing pleas to spare his life. He went with barely a whimper really. No tears at all.

Wish I could say the same for our youngest as he watched the whole sorry episode unfold before his eyes ... the way he bawled, I suspect he’ll never forget the day dad killed Father Christmas.

Is there ever a good time to tell your child that Santa Claus doesn’t exist? Before his first job interview, naturally, but when they’re still young? I doubt there’s a good time.

Generally speaking you hope they find out for themselves. Our Bradley, now aged 12, worked it out with not parental interference.

One Christmas he believed, by the next he’d worked out the truth.

The transition from wide-eyed innocent to street-wise gift-negotiator was smooth with that one.

Our Isaac, aged nine, believes. He’s in the creationist camp of Santa belief. T’was the Night Before Christmas is no fairytale. It’s Gospel.

Matters were brought to a head this week when his brother overheard a conversation in the garden.

Isaac and his pal were debating the new PlayStation 4. Isaac’s friend doubted he’d get one because “it would cost too much”, and his parents didn’t have much spare cash.

“Just get it for Christmas,” said Isaac. “It’s free.”

His pal repeated that he doubted his parents could afford it.

Isaac countered: “Santa will get it. Won’t cost your mam and dad a penny. Just put it on your list to Santa.”

Bradley raced back into the house to repeat the story. It’s a week until he starts middle school. If he still believes in Santa, they’ll have his life.

I got the impression even Bradley would feel duty-bound to join in any beatings heading his brother’s way ...

He had a point. As parents, surely we couldn’t stand by and do nothing.

Having him teased by his schoolmates would be too much. No, much better to destroy the fairytale world we helped create.

My wife handed the loaded revolver to me. The bullet bearing Santa’s name was already in the chamber.

We sat our Isaac down and asked if he had any questions about Christmas.

“Are we going to get a dog?” he squealed. This was not going to be easy.

Who do you think gets the presents at Christmas?

In the ideal world, he would have said he always thought it was Santa but just recently he wondered if it was mam and dad.

No. “Santa,” he said. “Santa brings them. The elves make them.”

Damn. I was going to have to take out the elves as well.

“No son,” I told him. “It’s not Santa. Mam and dad buy the presents.”

He wasn’t having it. “But we saw the sleigh, we saw it,” he pleaded with my wife.

We really had done a good job. The glowing lights from a plane flying overhead in the week running up to Christmas was passed off as Santa and his sleigh doing a reconnaissance mission.

With each carefully-worded explanation we watched his world crumble.

Who took Santa’s list from the fireplace? Who wrapped the presents? How did you hide the presents?

He sobbed his eyes out as the awful truth dawned. So did the wife.

“The Easter Bunny’s real though isn’t he?”

I reloaded the revolver … by the time I’d finished, the Easter bunny was gone, and the tooth fairy was running for the front door. She didn’t make it.

To break someone’s heart, you have to have made them very happy in the first the place.

That’s little consolation though, especially when your bairn’s breaking his heart in your arms. And I wouldn’t make it a motto to live your life by.

After a few minutes our Isaac’s sobbing subsided and he looked up, tears still dripping from his eyelashes. “So is God real?” he said.

I wiped my fingerprints from the revolver and handed it back to the wife.