There comes a time in every household with young children when the existence of Santa becomes problematic - and that time is Christmas 2011 at the Ikram household.
The reason it is problematic for us is that, in trying to impart to the kids all the messages that the season inspires - in a simple, yet memorable way - we've turned them into a mish-mash of weasly-waffle, as well-intentioned parents so often do.
The Jesus story has no relation to Santa, and as kids aren't taught anything religious in state schools these days, the kids have never heard of him. They will, in time. This year, though, we have enough on our hands trying to untangle the various threads that Father Christmas introduces into the mix. In previous years he was just a strange looking old man who one had a photo taken with once a year.
The questions start early. "Why does Santa give us presents?" and "does he give them to all girls and boys?" are the first two, followed by the inevitable discussion about how one man and a band of reindeer make it around the globe and down everyone's chimney in one night.
Well, the reindeer and Santa are magic, is the reply.
"Can we go to the North Pole to see them be magic?" comes the response.
Now of course the obvious answer is: "No. No we can't."
That's the answer given - but as there are a few families who have had the drive and resources to actually take their kids to Lapland where there is a thriving tourist trade in visiting Santa's grotto, we may not get away with that one for too long.
They're also unhappy that they won't be able to make snowmen on Christmas day, ride sleds or roast chestnuts. Needless to say, they've never seen snow and wouldn't have the first idea what a chestnut actually is.
Still, as long as the kids are sure Santa is coming, they're happy. For a few minutes, before observing that "Santa only comes to boys and girls that are good, aye mum?"
"Oh, yes!" is the reply to that one, with conviction.
"Boys and girls that are good, and they also have a special red sticker that Santa can see with his x-ray vision," says my son.
"Errr..." I start, having not heard of Santa's extra-sensory abilities. I can't budge that particular belief however, and the red sticker is taken to the toilet, to the bath, to school, and everywhere else just in case Santa happens to be looking over Mt Eden at any one time, until it looks like an unsightly piece of grey sludge.
"Why do granny and grandpa want us to send them our letter for Santa?" the five year old asks at a different time. A tricky one, which I congratulate myself by answering with "because they live in Christchurch, which is closer to the South Pole."
Except of course Santa comes from the North Pole, necessitating an explanation that is complete and utter bollocks about Poles communicating with each other through the centre of the earth. Hopefully one day geology will be able to untangle that one.
School has impressed on the kids the need to bring in presents and spare change for kids in less affluent areas, which is admirable. In our corner of Mt Eden, there have been a multitude of fundraisers for families in Mangere. We explain to our lot that kids in Mangere often don't have much at Christmas time and we need to share our presents with them, because that's what the season is all about.
Which inevitably leads to the question, "Mum, are all the poor kids on Santa's bad kids list? Why don't they get presents from Santa too?"
- HERALD ONLINE