Kids, take a seat. For years, your mother and I have assured you both that there’s no such thing as Santa Claus. We’ve reminded you over and over that no matter what your friends at school say, no portly old man is going to sneak into our house at night. Well, you’re old enough to know that that was all a lie. Santa Claus is very real, and he’s very dangerous.

This must feel like a huge betrayal, but it’s true. Every year, your mother and I pretend we know exactly what’s inside the wrapped presents under the tree. In reality, we have no idea what’s in those boxes, because we didn’t put them there⁠ — a large man in a red suit broke into our house and left those packages under the tree.

And every Christmas morning, we are sick to our stomachs watching you kids open those “gifts,” praying that the bearded intruder left a toy and not some kind of poison gas or an angry porcupine. Yes, sometimes it’s an angry porcupine. The man is out of his mind.

Ah, you want to know about the cookies⁠ — the ones you kids leave out as a trap to test if Santa breaks in. You want to know, if Santa’s real, why are the cookies always still there in the morning, uneaten? Simple: your mother and I sneak downstairs before you wake up and bake replacement cookies. Why do you think the oven’s always hot on Christmas morning?

I hope you’ll forgive us⁠ — for the deceit and the lies. We were just trying to spare you this terrible knowledge as long as we could. But you’re fighting-age now, and you need to know the truth about Saint Nick. And trust us: Saint Nick is no “saint.”

Why do you think he goes by a dozen different names? Those are aliases. He’s wanted under a different name in every single country!

For God’s sake, why do you think NORAD tracks him? For fun?! If the North American Aerospace Defense Command is tracking you, you’re probably not the good guy!

Those Santas in the mall? Those are his body-doubles, to make it harder to catch him.

That song “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”? Completely true. And intentional.

His naughty or nice list? Very real, and very judgmental.

The elves? Basically a child army.

Oh, and Rudolph’s nose? It’s red alright, but that’s not because he’s special⁠; it’s because Santa makes the reindeer cage-fight.

That jolly monster of a man knows when we’re asleep, when we’re awake, when we’ve been good, and when we’ve been oh so very bad. If you’re scared, join the club. We’re all scared. But at least now, you know enough to be prepared.

Now come over here and help your mom board up the fireplace.