My three-year-old son, happily munching on his advent calendar candy, asked me who put it there.
Caught offguard and panicking, a few options ran through my head. Santa? It would seem an obvious choice, but a) he's up north making all the goods, and b) wouldn't we lose some of the special Santa magic if he came every night instead of just one? "Is there someone in the kitchen? Oh wait, it's just Santa again. Hey S! Grab me a beer, will you?" Eye-rolling and heavy sighs commence.
Elves? I had a mental image of a bunch of creepily grinning elves darting throughout the house, climbing up the walls and across the ceiling, leaving candy in their wake. Way too nightmarish for a three-year-old, I thought.
Jesus? Not an option.
So I said the first inoffensive thing that popped into my head (and if you've been reading here awhile, you know that not everything that pops into my head is inoffensive.)
"Who brings the candy, you ask? Why, the Christmas Fairies, of course."
The Christmas Fairies. The CHRISTMAS FAIRIES. I had so many options here. I could have said, "It's a mystery, a magical Christmas mystery!" I could have feigned innocence. Hell, I could have 'fessed up and said, "Mommy does, honey. It's just a little extra Christmas surprise for you."
I had to go with the Christmas Fairies, or as I like to call them, The World's Most Redonkulous and Least Imaginative Imaginary Holiday Icon Who Also Haunt My Dreams. It's not like you can write a Christmas Carol about them.
Here come the Christmas Fairies
Here come the Christmas Fairies
Right down the Christmas Fairy lane
Twinkie and Blinkie and all their unicorns
Pulling on the reins.
I mean, really, WTF? Was I thinking?
Here we are, five years later, and CP and now Sassy are still totally on board with the whole Christmas Fairy thing. I grumble every night as I'm stuffing candy into the wretched little numbered pockets, not very fairy-like at all, if I'm being totally honest.
So the big question is now: do I tell them? Or at the very least, do I break it to my son? I can just see him at school, "I got the fully AWEsomest taffy last night in my advent calendar. Those Christmas Fairies ROCK." Dull stares. Crickets.
I don't mind telling him I invented an extra piece of holiday magic I thought he'd enjoy, but watch out! It's the slippery slope! Won't he then wonder what else I've invented over the years? What about the Easter Bunny, Mom? What about Santa? WHAT ABOUT THE TELETUBBIES?
It's one thing to make up innocuous little stories to amuse myself. ("Mommy? What makes the traffic lights change?" "Squirrels. There's little squirrels in there.") It's another to dash a child's best dreams, to basically strip him of the very innocence we try to maintain, before society strips him of it without asking permission.
Do I let him continue to believe this hastily concocted fib or do I come clean? Will I suffer consequences? More importantly, will he? Will my boy be in therapy for decades, and in a crucial breakthrough the therapist traces all his problems back to the EFFING CHRISTMAS FAIRIES?
Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to make up stories about stupid holiday symbols.