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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Why Parents Lie at Christmas

BALTIMORE, Maryland -- Nobody lies like a parent. Hook one of us up to a polygraph and ask for the truth -- about the tooth fairy or about our sex life before marriage -- and I guarantee the needle won't even flutter when we speak.

Parents have a lie for every occasion.

"This won't hurt."

"I'll be right back."

"Try it. You'll like it."

It is no wonder our children refuse to listen to us. We're probably lying, and they know it.

At Christmas time, we trot out our best lies, the ones with all the trimmings. Lies as elaborate as Christmas dinner and as fake as the tree in the mall.

We lie to our kids about Santa Claus.

We start lying early, before they can even form questions, and we keep lying long after they have found the packages in the closet.

The older our children get, and the more suspicious they become, the more outrageous the lies.

All of us eat the cookies we leave for Santa and leave teeth marks in the carrots we leave for Rudolph. We might be forgiven for such deceptions. These are nice touches that add to the tableau of Christmas morning.

But it does not stop there. Recognize any of these lies?

"Santa's watching and if you aren't good, he will know."

"We'll just write 'North Pole' on the envelope. It will get to Santa."

"Santa can come in through the front door. Lots of houses don't have chimneys."

"So many children want the same toy, Santa might not have enough."

"Santa doesn't deliver electronic toys."

"There is only one Santa. The ones you see at Christmas are all his helpers."

"If you don't believe in Santa, he won't come."

"Santa will know we are at Grandma's and he will leave your presents there. Santa knows everything."

"If you don't go to sleep, Santa won't come."

"You're right, that is our wrapping paper. I left it out for Santa to use."

Pretty standard lies. Not much imagination here. But there is no limit to the lengths parents will go to protect the legend of Santa Claus.

"Every Christmas Eve, I trace my husband's shoe and make a stencil," confesses reader Stacey Jacobs. "Then I sprinkle around it with baking soda. The children believe Santa left his footprints in magic snow. It even sparkles."

This mom also sprinkles her four sleeping children with gold glitter -- proof that the elves scouted them for Santa to make sure they were asleep. "They wake up and check first thing for the elf dust. It adds to the magic and it gets them so pumped before they go downstairs," she says.

Melissa Marlin doesn't have a fireplace, either, so she created a gold skeleton key to hang on the front door for the Jolly Old Elf.

When Amy Facinoli's youngest showed signs of not believing, she offered to let him fax a letter to Santa.

"When Santa 'faxed' a letter back, I had him on the hook for another year," says the mother of two.

When their kids start with the really tough questions, some parents try to fake them out with a phony reality check -- a kind of Christmas double reverse.

"With four kids, we knew we had to do something when they started asking for really expensive electronic gifts," says Eileen Incontrera. "We let them know that Santa can't do it on the little money he makes, so he sends us a bill every January for the toys they receive.

"It worked!"

Lauren Mueller also told her son that parents pay for Christmas and that's why the children in poor families won't get gifts unless others help.

"So every year, we take a name from the giving tree in the mall so Santa will have gifts to deliver and the children won't be sad."

Eva Whitley asked her son if he really believed his mother and father would shell out for a stack of Christmas presents when they had just done that for his birthday six days earlier.

"Do you think Mom and Dad would buy all those presents without a big production number?" she asked. "Don't be ridiculous."

Susan Klee thought she'd provided her children with irrefutable proof when she left a torn swatch of red velvet by the fireplace grate -- until her kids returned to school to find that poor Santa had ripped his pants at every house in the neighborhood.

These parents will all say they lie to preserve the spirit of Christmas in the hearts of their children.

That may be the biggest lie of all. It is parents who want the magic to last one more year.