Last year, Chas (Eldest Boy) finally asked the question: "It's really you and dad, isn't it? I mean. I know. I've just been pretending."
"Yes. Don't spoil it for your brothers."
"Gasp! I WOULDN'T!" And so Chasbo joined Sean and I in the best fib of them all.
Last week, we started reading J R R Tolkien's "Letters From Santa", a beautiful collection spanning some twenty years, from the first notes to his eldest son to the last poignant poetry to Tolkien's daughter and youngest child. The letters manage to be heartbreaking, with each child eventually becoming too old for a stocking "...but I don't forget people even when they are past stocking-age, not until they forget me..."; terribly exciting, with battles and goblins who almost ruin Christmas; hilarious, as the cast of characters gradually expands and we meet the other inhabitants of the North Pole.
Chas feels himself much too old for storytime these days. He curls up in his own bed with his own more grown-up book, and seldom comes to snuggle anymore. But when I started to read Tolkien's enchanting writing, he crept over and we all made room. Max said "But it says "Tolkien" on the front! Is this real?" Sam looked like he was wondering the same thing, but was afraid to ask. He is strenuously avoiding the Question, since he is not yet ready for the Answer.
"It's COLLECTED by Tolkien, see?" explained Chas. "Come ON, does that writing sound like Tolkien's?"
"Sounds like Santa to me" I agreed.
"There you go."
Max was happy with that. He BELIEVES in Santa. Sam looked relieved, and snuggled closer. Since then, every night, we all read through a few years. Photos of Tolkien's (Santa's, sorry) original letters and drawings are there, with notes from the North Polar Bear in the margins.
I have read ahead, and finished the book myself. I had to. I will be very sorry to reach the end with the kids, it has been lovely to have them ALL so snuggly at bedtime! This is a must-read for anyone who has ever believed in Santa, or would have liked to.
For reading aloud, read Santa in your normal voice so that you can give Polar Bear a really gruff deep voice. He interrupts all the time, and you'll need a very different sound to differentiate them! Oh, and don't save this one for Christmas Day: Read it now.