Little James had to write a letter to Santa in his prep class and then post the letter into the ‘classroom post box express to the North Pole’. I figured this was something all kids had to do in school, and didn’t think too much about it, until my husband picked up Little James from school the other day, and was discreetly taken aside by the teacher, who said she appreciated our values to teach Little James to not believe in Santa Claus, but please don’t ruin Xmas for the other children. And then she handed James a reply letter from Santa Claus.

Up to this point, it never occurred to me that children above two years old genuinely believed in Santa. I thought it was a form a societal role play like flash mobs, a tacit agreement between adult and children in Western culture that grown men will dress up in red suits and act jolly while children sit on their laps to communicate their present ideas to their parents. It has come as a shock that I could actually ruin Xmas for children just by telling them Santa wasn’t real – because that’s like saying the world is less wondrous because unicorns and dragons aren’t real. Fantasy and speculative fiction are my favourite book genres and I never thought that my enjoyment of reading these stories were lessened because the magical characters aren’t real.

Anyway, I questioned little James about it and he said he did not tell any kids that Santa wasn’t real. He merely crossed out ‘Dear Santa’ on the letterhead and replaced it with ‘Dear Mummy’.

Also, I had time to draw a comic strip about how James and I actually had the Santa talk when he was four years old. It wasn’t like I deliberately set out to strip out the magical colours from his life. My kid has this thing about facts and science and he came to his own conclusion.