Archive for the ‘Santa Claus’ Tag
“Go to bed, Santa is watching.”
“Don’t hit your brother, Santa will put you on his Naughty list.”
It’s terrible. It might prompt a quick change of behavior, but in the long run all it does is get them way too excited for Christmas Eve. Just yesterday my three-year old asked me, “Is Santa’s magic coming tonight?”
The worst part about this particular method of persuasion is that I get this niggling feeling that by invoking the name of Santa I am somehow manipulating the magic of Christmas, and that thing that is so innocent and pure and unquestioning in my little children: belief.
I know there are people who don’t share the Santa myth with their children at all. They don’t want to confuse their kids. Or lie to them. Or make it difficult to ascertain the difference between belief in magic and faith in God. But the time is so brief in a child’s life when they are open-hearted and wide-eyed enough to let magic be real. Their belief in magic is precious and fleeting, and I want my children to let it fill them up inside with wonder.
When the magic is gone, something is lost. Like the line from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan: “Every time a child says, ‘I don’t believe in fairies,’ there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead.”
My eight-year old daughter seems to recognize this. She is on the brink of relinquishing her belief in Santa, only she doesn’t want to lose the magic. Tonight she asked me to recall a fabricated story from a Christmas past when I’d ‘allegedly’ heard the bells on Santa’s sleigh. “Did you really hear them, Mom?” she asked.
“Yes,” I responded in my ongoing effort to keep the illusion alive. “Because I believe.”
She turned her little face up to mine and said with a wistful voice, “I almost believe.”
It pulled at my heart. The waning of the magic. And her desire to hold onto it for as long as possible. She went on to tell me about a friend at school who has an elf come visit her house every December. “He feels like a stuffed toy,” my daughter explained, “but he’s not. He’s real. He moves all around the house and watches everyone. He’s Santa’s helper.” I could see how delighted she was by the idea of a magical elf, but even more, the importance she placed on her friend’s belief that the doll was real. “Maybe,” she told me, “we could invite an elf to come to our house. Then I would believe.”
She doesn’t want to let the magic go. And I wish she didn’t have to.
But I did. I used to be just like her: convinced of the reality of fairy-folk and all their particular brands of magic. And what I have learned is that even after she loses the fairy-magic, life will continue to bring her another kind of magic, in unexpected ways that are much more enduring than fairy dust. Magic like mine: a little girl with freckled cheeks who wants with all her heart to see the things inspired by her imagination. And even though she won’t be able to continue believing in St. Nick, she’ll find other things to believe in. Things that are more real than he could ever be. Belief might be harder to come by as she gets older. It won’t always be sunny and bright. But I am convinced – and this is my believing - that the wonder will still be there, waiting for her to find it.
One of my favorite things about being a parent is when one of my kids approaches me with a question. Something they are wondering about, mulling over. “Mom,” someone will say, “I have a question.” And in that moment, the pause before the asking, I brace myself. Because who knows what the question will be, or if I’ll even be able to answer it. But I love that they come to me for answers. I love the way the questions they ask give me glimpses into their little minds, revealing wonder, mystery, and logic. And I love that after the question is asked and it is time for the answer, we’ll have a chance to learn together.
My oldest, Hunter, is a great asker of questions. He loves to learn. But lately he is the one formulating the answers. I love encouraging him to find solutions, and express his thoughts and opinions. We are developing a mutual respect toward each other in our learning and understanding of things. Which makes it hard not to be completely honest and upfront with him when he approaches me with a really good question. Like how babies are made. But that is a topic for another post.
Most recently the subject of our conversation was Santa Claus. Yes, I know, it isn’t even November yet. But Santa has already become a frequent topic at our house. Hunter came home from school one day and started telling me about the BMX bike he wants for Christmas.
“We’ll see what Santa says about it.” I said. And then I watched him make a face. One that said, ‘whatever, Mom.’ So I asked him, “What are you thinking about Santa these days?”
“Well, I know he isn’t real. Nobody can live in the North Pole, and Reindeer can’t fly.”
And this is where I had to admire his logic, and couldn’t make myself quell his very reasonable doubts. Instead, I pushed him a little bit. “So who do you think has been bringing you presents all this time?” I asked.
And of course Hunter, being the boy that he is, had an answer. Just not the one I expected. “I don’t know,” he shrugged. But clearly he’d been thinking about it. “The United States Government?”
Because of course if someone is going to bring you presents while you are sleeping, those toys and games your heart is most set upon, it is not going to be your parents. It is the government. I couldn’t help it. I had to laugh. And then I told him the truth, which unfortunately, was harder for him to believe than his own hypothesis.
“Why?” he wanted to know, “Would you and dad buy me all those presents?”
It was a little concerning, I have to admit.
But at this point, things got more complicated. My six-year old daughter came on the scene. She discovered that secret knowledge had been shared and wanted to know, “Why would you tell your son a secret, and not your daughter?”
So I bamboozled her — my daughter who believes in fairies with all her heart, and writes them notes to lure them to her room at night. I wasn’t ready to tell her the truth yet. So I told her that the secret was about the United States Government. It was just a little stretch. I told her that while the government does NOT bring gifts to kids at night, the CIA can sneak into people’s houses and listen to their phone conversations.
“Oh,” she said, her mouth a little cheerio. “Does Daddy know?”
So Hattie thinks she got the same information as Hunter. But I don’t feel bad about lying to her about it. For her the magic of childhood is still so real. And for Hunter, science and reason is growing into a whole new world of magic and wonder. One that I get to be a part of everytime I hear the words, “Mom, I have a really good question.”