It shouldn't have been a surprise really. I've been fighting against the inevitable for the third December in a row.
You may remember last year when I posted about Missy spotting Daddy as Father Christmas when she was as young as 3. Despite us brushing her off, she walked away from Santa's grotto that night saying "That was my Daddy that was" in a loud voice, luckily to no-one but me as we'd got there early enough to be the first ones in and no-one waiting.
All through this time, Monkey has never once referred to Daddy being Father Christmas and yet he was with us both times and must have heard what Missy Woo said. I figured that either he didn't believe Missy Woo (although he's never one to pass up the opportunity of a good old argument with his sister), or - and possibly more likely - he was in denial and thought he'd better keep his trap shut. If he thought he might miss out on a present, I'm betting he'd keep quiet.
So, Daddy was Father Christmas again this year. Luckily, he was meant to be at work anyway, so his absence was easily explained - I told them he was doing a special shift to explain the fact he wouldn't be home until long after bedtime. My plan to get there early was foiled - the children faffed around and we didn't get to school until just before the fair opened and there was already a queue. By the time we got in, there was a few waiting so I decided to herd them round some of the other stalls for a while but once that was done, I decided to join the queue to enter the grotto. I wondered how we'd get on - especially as Missy Woo had asked me about a week ago if Father Christmas was going to be Daddy.
The children were excited about the prospect of seeing Father Christmas; I'm not sure if it was more the idea of the present than of seeing the big man himself. Anyway, time passed and it became our turn. We walked in and sat down and hubby started his spiel. Within seconds, Missy Woo came up to me and put her arms round my neck and whispered "That Father Christmas is Daddy" so I said "Shhhhh." Surprisingly, that worked and she walked back to the chair and sat down. The children played along with his questions and enjoyed Father Christmas's new technology - he had a magic ball which you hold and it detects how naughty and nice the children have been over the last year. And they happily took their presents from Father Christmas and said their thank yous before leaving.
When we got home, it was getting late and I sent them up to get their pyjamas on. They came downstairs and we were looking at the things we'd brought home - prizes, and their presents from Father Christmas. Suddenly, Monkey piped up, "Daddy was Father Christmas, wasn't he? It looked like his face and it sounded like him." First time ever he has admitted he's noticed this. Later, when husband arrived home, he told me he could see Monkey looking at him strangely with a hint of recognition in his eyes so he was not surprised he'd outed him too.
I then launched into the rehearsed speech about how Father Christmas can't get to all the fairs and grottoes all over the world when he's meant to be preparing all the toys and wrapping them ready for Christmas Eve, so he lets some grown ups do this important work for him, but that sometimes, the real Father Christmas turns up and you never know when that is going to be. And I told them they had to keep it a secret that their Daddy was Father Christmas today as I didn't want lots of angry parents collaring me in the playground.
Monkey is now excited about next year's Christmas fair because "it might be the REAL Father Christmas next time." Yes, already. Both children seemed happy to accept my explanation of Daddy being a stand-in for the real thing and why that has to be. The bullet, it would appear, has been dodged. The thing is, when Christmas arrives, they believe completely that Father Christmas does deliver presents for them. They leave a snack out for him and a carrot for the reindeer, and they find some presents at the foot of their bed the next morning. We follow his progress around the world during the day (oh the wonders of the internet!). Father Christmas, for them, is still a very real part of the Christmas magic. And long may it continue.
Daddy may have been outed - he's our not so secret Santa - but I'm hoping that Father Christmas works his magic over Monkey and Missy Woo for some time to come. I know the window is narrowing - and my children are smart little cookies - but the biggest part of the magic of Christmas is hoping that Father Christmas will visit your house and the excitement when he does, bringing all those lovely presents with him, is what makes Christmas morning.