I knew that this day would arrive in my house sooner than I hoped and much sooner than I wanted. It has and I am sad. It’s bittersweet for it means that my little girl is growing up. Tonight, I took Piper out for supper just her and I. I picked her up from school and didn’t say anything but as we drove out-of-town, she asked where we were going.
For supper together.
As we were eating, I was asking her about her day and who she played with and what they did. It was during this casual conversation that she dropped the bomb on me.
“My friends don’t believe in Santa.”
And I said, “Oh, really? That’s kinda sad.”
And we talked about what her friends said and how she responded to them.
“I told them he was real!”
Then we sat silent for a few minutes and I choked back some tears and asked her,
“What do you believe?”
“He IS real! You saw him. Remember when you woke up with Quinner in the night and you saw him!” *
I have worried about this day since we celebrated her first Christmas. How would I handle this moment. What would I say. So I told her the truth, kinda. It’s true, Piper, some people do not believe in Santa. They don’t celebrate Christmas like we do and they don’t think that Santa is real. Not like we do. And that’s okay. Just like some people do not celebrate Halloween or trick or treat. We are all different and each home celebrates Christmas differently.
She seemed to accept that answer and even seemed to be satisfied by it. But I have a feeling that this isn’t the last of this conversation. She believes with conviction and I can see how much she wants others to believe too. I really hoped that I could extend the time that she would believe. For the Santa years to continue in my home forever… not realistic, I know. She appears to still believe without question but I need to be ready. Ready for the next conversation that starts of with, “my friends said that you are Santa”.
I have given this much consideration. I have rehearsed this conversation in my mind, over and over again. When she asks me if I am Santa, I will tell her the truth. I will tell her that the answer is a simple No but the explanation as to who exactly Santa is, is not.
There is not one person who is Santa alone. There are many. You see them at the Mall each year and you skate with them during skate with Santa. I think that even she suspects that her very own Daddy has donned the big red suit and played the part of Santa for other children who believe. It is true that her father and I are the ones who wait until she and her sisters are fast asleep in their bed on Christmas Eve. We are the ones who get to work filling your stockings and putting together your toys. We are the ones who listen to your hearts desire and we are the ones that keep notes about your wish list. We choose and we buy the presents that you will receive. We do this for you, just as my Mom and Dad did for me and Daddy’s Mom and Dad did for him. And… just as you, yourself will do for your very own children some day. And I have no doubt that you will be so great at it. I have no doubt that the magic will remain alive in you for as long as you live.
The Santa years for children are so few and when the time is right and she is ready, she will know that her Dad and I (and her children will know that she) worked hard and had fun at creating this magical time in her home. I will tell her the truth because in the years to come and when it will matter the most, my girls will know how much work we did to bring that holiday spirit into their lives.
Santa is not so much a person as he is the feeling that we get at Christmas time. The excitement of the Christmas Tree, the gift giving and the gift receiving. The Magic. The Hope. That is what Santa is. He lives inside us. Those who believe.
I will tell her that part of her growing up is understanding that the spirit of a Santa can always be within us. That she can now make the magic happen for others. And it’s true. Not all families or children believe as strongly about Santa as we do. And that is okay. But make no mistake about it Santa is real. He lives in our hearts. He teaches us to believe in the things that we cannot see and the things that we cannot touch. Like love and friendship. Something that will serve her well in her life when she needs that encouragement to believe in herself, in those she loves, and even those she doesn’t, to believe in her God and to believe that there is kindness and good in our world.
She will soon know what really happens behind the scenes during Christmas and although there is no one Santa, how could we not believe in him when millions of people all over the world come together to do the work of Santa. With hearts full of love and joy people all over the world do their part to make this time of year special and magical for all the little girls and boys.
And then when she knows, she can do her part too. Her part will include not telling others that he is not real. We won’t talk about that. We just do our part with a smile and a nod. Each child, in their own time, will learn the real meaning of Santa and help to make that magic happen for others.
So, tonight as I write this. I am a wee bit sad and nostalgic. I want my girls to remain innocent and forever young. Again, not realistic, I now. They have to grow up and with that comes many conversations that I would rather not have but must. So for this year, because I fear it may be my last, I still have 3 young believers and creating the magic remains all mine. For now. Things may be different in our home next year, but I think I will be able to handle it.
I hope so anyway.
* Piper is talking about the time that I Caught Santa on camera in our living room December 2010.