The Santa Clause: Don’t Lie to Your Children

It’s nearly midnight,

and I just wrote “From Santa”

in red Sharpie


on the present under the ornament

my son stuck together

with felt and Popsicle sticks.


There was a time not long ago

I swore I would never

lie to my children like this,


never invoke the hoary, corpulent

somethinggenerian whenever

they misbehaved,


never sit at the kitchen table

with them hammering out

lists of superfluous toys,


never try to explain

how the big guy makes it around

the world overnight in a sleigh,


or how he finagles

his gelatinous frame into

our house without a fireplace.


Eventually they’ll become

little forensic handwriting analysts

and figure out why Santa’s penmanship


so closely resembles

their mother’s, stop

rising at dawn like chickens,


and sign quote marks in the air

when reading “From Santa”

in red Sharpie


as I train the video camera

on their morphing adolescence.

Maybe they’ll mean it


when they vow never to lie

to their children,

leaving only shredded wrapping paper

in their wakes.

Ted Millar teaches English at Mahopac High School in Mahopac, New York, and creative writing and poetry at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.  His poetry has appeared in Cactus HeartThe Grief Diaries, Chronogram, Brickplight, The Artistic Museand Inkwell.  He lives in Marlborough, New York, the heart of the Hudson Valley’s apple and wine country, with his wife and two children.