With Christmas only 5 weeks away, I am especially aware this year that it will be like no other. For a start, we are in our new home. This is a novelty for all of us. The girls had both only ever known the previous house and 11 years was the longest I've ever stayed in one place, so we are very excited about finding new places for the tree and the decorations. And of course this home will be the start of a whole new bunch of memories with just the three of us.
The other major change this year came about one rainy Wednesday morning back in February. D1 was putting her breakfast things in the dishwasher (hallelujah!), D2 was sitting at the kitchen table eating her Cheerios and I was sipping a cup of tea and writing yet another cheque to the school for some trip or other. It was oddly calm for a school day.
Until D2 lifted her head from her bowl. "Muuummy...? Tell me the truth. You are really Santa, aren't you?". D1, who was already privy to the truth about the man in red, gawped at me with a mixture of horror and 'where the heck did that come from' which kind of reflected my own thoughts. I tried pretending I'd not heard to see if she'd move on, but she didn't so I then did what can only be described as an impression of a guppy fish. I opened my mouth and closed it. Twice. She asked me again. "You are, aren't you?".
Now awful as it seems, it wasn't a big deal when D1 found out. She didn't seem overly bothered and besides she was then under threat of withdrawal of all future booty if she told her little sister so she was happy to continue the secret. In fact, we'd had some fun with it that year when D2 was trying to leave a Bournville square on Santa's tray (yuk) and D1 said 'oh, he'd much prefer a purple caramel nut' mouthing behind her back "you owe me". But here was my baby virtually begging me to come clean and I was completely torn. So I played for time: "What do you think, darling?" says I. She then listed several reasons why she thought it was me and eventually, I just slowly nodded. To which she burst into horrified tears and threw her head down on the table sobbing. It turned out she wanted to be wrong. She's howling "but you lied to me, mummy!", I'm apologising (?) and her big sister is saying "mum's only joking, she's not really".
I took the righteous route at this point and said something to the effect that perhaps it's best that she knows the truth and that mummy was only lying for fun and that all parents were basically liars but only about that one magical thing (safety in numbers, I'm thinking). Then we had a bit of a giggle as she listed all the things 'Santa' had done over the years - snowy foot prints "which made you really cross", thank you's for the mince pies and Baileys (I'm not daft) written in red crayon with my left hand. And the time I refused to buy her a Bratz doll, but 'naughty Santa' brought one anyway, basically absolving myself of any responsibility in the decision to buy my then six year old a pert plastic hooker. So, after she calmed down, she went off to finish getting ready for school leaving me completely washed out. As she was putting on her shoes, she looked up at me with her enormous brown eyes and said "I'm just glad you're not the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy too".