13/12/2016 08:57 GMT | Updated 10/12/2017 05:12 GMT

The Lies We Tell About Santa

I've had almost twenty four years of being a parent, and with a large age difference between the oldest and youngest, roughly twenty one years of fibbing my head off about various matters. At this time of year of course, the culprit is Santa Claus or Father Christmas. In lying terms, he's on a par with the Tooth Fairy only the stakes seem a bit higher. I mean, when that blasted Tooth Fairy forgets to visit, she just gets a bit of a tongue-lashing from me, pitches up the following night and leaves double the money. For some reason, kids buy whatever you tell them about why it took her a whole week to visit, and then the tooth turned up in the kitchen drawer. With Santa Claus, it's like they turn into mini Sherlocks, trying to trick you at every turn.

As a gesture of seasonal magnanimity, I'm sharing some of my best saves -

We don't have a chimney, what shall we do? - Ah well, a lot of people don't have chimneys and Santa's okay with that. He's magic anyway, so he just thinks himself into the house. (This works until they get into Superpowers, and then they start making up their own versions of how he breaks into houses. This can entertain them for hours, by the way.)

How come he gets round the world so quickly when it takes us eight hours to get to England? - Ah well, he's just magic. (Or has mastered warp drive, depending on your child's interests and/or nerdiness.)

How do you know what to put out for Santa to eat? Ah well, your father is very clever and knows that Santa likes a good Malbec and something sweet.

How come he uses the same wrapping paper as you? - Ah well, he has so many presents to deliver to children around the world, he doesn't have room for wrapping paper so he asks parents to leave that out for his elves.

How come his writing is just like yours? - Ah well, that's the naughty elves. Sometimes they like to play tricks so they write just like me to confuse everyone. (I once said that they didn't know how to write and just copied what I had written, but that led to major angst about illiteracy in the elf world.)

How come grandma got me the (name of most desired toy) when it was on my Santa list? - Ah well, Santa can't always bring you everything you put on the list. He has a lot of children to see to and only a year to get everything made. Sometimes he asks parents or grandparents to get the things you've said you wanted.

Why didn't I get (name of present you couldn't find or decided would be a waste of money)? Ah well, like I said, sometimes he runs out of time or elf power so he tells your grandparents about your wish, and sometimes he just thinks you'll have more than enough presents.

I must tell you that lying to your children about Santa Claus/Father Christmas apparently puts them at great risk for all sorts of psychological trauma in later life. Never mind that legions of lying parents were also fed the Santa myth and appear to have emerged unscathed, experts warn that "All children will eventually find out they've been consistently lied to for years, and this might make them wonder what other lies they've been told."