Christmas Eve, 11:32 PM, and I was stuck smack in the middle of an ethical dilemma. A moral conundrum. A rock and a hard place.

It wasn’t my annual night-before-Christmas problem: drinking Santa’s cup of milk. You see, I’m not a milk drinker. It’s not that I’m lactose intolerant. I’m actually quite tolerant of lactose when it comes in the form of ice cream and queso dip. But straight milk? No thank you. I’m a grown man and I’ll pour Santa’s homogenized offering right down the sink and go for a Dr. Pepper instead.

But back to my problem: Merriem and I were finishing up with the last of the gifts under the tree. And it was at that point that we noticed what our nine year old wrote on his note to Santa…

Dear Santa,

The (oatmeal) cream pie is for your trip. The other one is for now.

If you are real write a [symbol 1]. If not put [symbol 2]. Please be honest.

Your kid,




There I was, backed into a corner right beside the Christmas tree. 2011 has been the year of doubting for Jase. Regardless of your viewpoint on the big man in the red suit, it’s tough when your kid makes another step from childhood to adulthood.

And there lay our conundrum. The rest of the letter would have been tough enough, but when he added the “please be honest” tag at the end, well that was just the ol’ proverbial knife in the toy sack on our backs. And then “your kid”?!? It’s like he was taunting us with what he knew to be the truth.

Just so you know, we ended up writing “Jase, enjoy being a kid. Merry Christmas!” But on Christmas morning, the jig was up. Jase made a break for our bedroom closet where we’d stashed the special Santa wrapping paper. You know – the paper that only Santa is allowed to use, unless of course it’s December 23rd and you’ve run out of the mere mortal wrapping paper and so some of the stuff that you bought magically turns into stuff that Santa bought. But I digress. Jase found it, and the great mystery of childhood was once and for all solved. And a little part of me was very, very sad.

At the end of the day, it was a dilemma that would make an ethicist scratch his head. The parent in me wanted to keep the fat man around a little longer. The realist wanted to tell him the truth and settle the question. So what would you do? How did you handle the St. Nick question with your kids?

Comment below.