With six kids in a family, not much is left unspoken. My younger kids know way more than they should about puberty, babies and the like. This year, Santa Claus has been outed! Yes, the older kids have known for a while, but have kept it a secret from the younger ones, so far.

Earlier this year, my 10-year-old caught me trying to slip a buck under her pillow while grabbing her tooth, way the heck under her pillow, in the pre-dawn hours when I thought she was still asleep. She kept my secret with the understanding if she told her little brother, the cash-for-teeth deal was over.

Armed with this knowledge, she quickly figured out not only is Mommy the Tooth Fairy, I am also the laundry fairy, the dishes fairy, the cleaning fairy (I actually had my kids—and maybe even my husband—believing in these domestic goddess fairies), the Easter Bunny and so on. You know what’s next: Santa.

Driving to gymnastics a few weeks ago, my brilliant daughter says, “So Mom, if you’re the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, does that mean you’re Santa too?” I just about veered off the road! But I am quick on my feet, like the Grinch, so I thought up a lie and and I thought it up quick. I told her that I am simply one of Santa’s helpers, that every mom and dad become official elves when they become parents.

Clever, right? She sort of fell for it, I think. I even got her to agree that she will keep this little secret for Joe, her little brother, at least for this year.

Do I feel like the magic of Christmas is ruined forever? Not at all. In fact, I asked my older kids about the year they learned the truth about Santa and they all agreed it was not traumatic at all, especially since they were still getting gifts. Really, though, it allows for more meaningful time together with family and friends, truly celebrating the gifts of love, faith and charity. Time with family at the holidays is precious, even more so as the years pass. Santa’s magic is still shared with all the little cousins and my grandbaby, though, along with all of our church-family traditions.

Santa doesn’t make Christmas. Official elves (and fairies) do; they bring love, hope and joy—one holiday, family and child at a time!