Barry grew older. He still believed. By the time he was 10 years old his father and I started to fill uncomfortable with the situation. Secretly, I wanted Barry to believe forever, because I wanted to believe and I could live my dream through him. But that’s not a good thing. In fact, it’s totally selfish and unfair.
Then, one year, we decided that he had to be told. We knew that Barry’s friends had told him the truth, but he believed us over them. Our hearts sank. We were misleading him. He needed to know the truth, but how would he take it? Would he forgive us?
As a parent, it was a dilemma I never thought I’d have to face. That fateful Christmas we waited for him to come home and tell us that he really knew it was us, but he didn’t. He still clung desperately to his belief. We had no choice but to tell him the truth.
I’ll never forget the devastation on his face. Never!
Daniel kept saying, “You knew really, didn’t you, Barry? You knew it was Mum and Dad all the time. I knew years ago, but didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to spoil it for everyone. You knew too, didn’t you?”
But it was plain on Barry’s face. He didn’t. I cried for hours that day. I felt like we had betrayed him, crushed him, stolen something from him. It wasn’t a nice feeling.
Barry told me later that everyone had told him that Santa didn’t exist, even Daniel, but he wanted to believe that he did. He loved Christmas. I remember telling him that nothing would change. Christmas would still be what it always had been.
As a family, we put up the Christmas tree two weeks before Christmas. It was my job to weave the lights into the branches of the tree. Everyone sat back and watched while I did that. Then came the tinsel. One of the boys would always say, “We know, Mum, it has to be draped not wrapped around the tree.” In fact, it was a standing joke every year. They knew me well.
Then the ornaments would be hung on the tree and around the house. Streamers, balloons and garlands would be hung from the ceiling. Lights would decorate the windows. In turns, Barry or Daniel would be lifted into the air so that one of them could place the star on top of the tree. Lastly, we would each grab a party banger and stand around the tree. On the count of three we would all pop the bangers and watch the streamers fly up into the air and fall gracefully over the tree. We loved that effect.
A ceramic Santa was placed under the tree for good measure, but he always magically disappeared on Christmas Eve. No presents were ever placed beneath the tree until the boys were fast asleep on Christmas Eve. So, early Christmas morning would be the first time, and only time, they would see the tree with presents under it.
A week later the tree would be dismantled, the decorations would be taken down and everything would be put away until the following year.