I remember my first year as a new mom, wondering how I was going to handle the whole Santa thing. I was stressed even that first year because I thought I had to figure something out by the following year and nothing was coming to mind.
I was so torn. I didn’t want to rob my children of Santa and that “Christmas excitement,” but I didn’t want to lie either. I didn’t want them to wonder for a few years in Middle School, “Well, she lied about that, maybe she’s lying about all of her stories of feeling touched by angels too. Maybe she doesn’t even believe in God like she says she does either.”
The first year came and went without incident. My five month old was oblivious. The next year, we just put presents out at night and watched movies about Santa and Christmas and even other holidays. Sesame Street had a very cultured holiday episode and at one and a half, that’s all my son knew of Santa. I had managed to avoid the issue another year.
But then, he was two and a half and suddenly way smarter than I thought he’d be and he asked me about Santa. “How does Santa get in the house? We don’t have a chimney.”
Ummmmmmmmmm…….. *think, think, think*
He shrugged and that was that. It was horrible, but my resolve grew and I knew I’d come up with something better to say the next year. My husband at the time didn’t want to encourage Santa. But I’ve always been a believer in Magic.
I’m not saying I believe in a huge toy factory on a slab of frozen ocean, but I did believe in something.
So, in trying to figure out what to say about Santa, I reflected on my own real, true feelings on the subject. What I found out about myself surprised me and brought the Magic of Christmas back into my life.
The following year, my child was three. My husband and I had split up and I was living in a new apartment with my son. Money was tight and I didn’t have enough money to celebrate Christmas, which was so unfortunate, because for the first time in years, I actually wanted to, thanks to my new revelation. Determined to make it work, I scraped together what money I did have just to buy a small fake Christmas tree from the dollar store. A close friend had some extra colored Christmas tree lights that she figured her husband wouldn’t miss. Those lights shined more brilliantly than any I had ever seen. My son was very excited to decorate the tree, but we had only a few of my heirloom items from childhood to hang on it. So, we searched the house (as though it was how everyone did it) looking for more things to hang on the tree.
We found some of my old jelly bracelets. I was so thankful when I saw that my cereal box had glow-in-the-dark planets on them we could cut out. “What a gift,” I thought! Those were his favorite ornaments for years. We took scrap paper, cut it into strips and made a chain of colored paper garland to hang on the tree. Seven years later, we still have that garland. When we had finished decorating, we took a red piece of fabric and tied it into a bow on the top. We plugged in the tree and my son gasped with delight. That year, we spent no more than twelve dollars on what has become “our” Christmas Tree.
That year, he asked me about Santa. I looked at our Christmas tree.
I told him, with the most honesty I’ve ever spoken on the subject in my life, “Santa is the Magical Spirit of Christmas that makes gifts appear when you think you have none.”
In the following years, I maintained my stance. It’s evolved slightly over the years. We have frequently played Santa to unsuspecting neighbors. From that, Santa Clause evolved into “the Spirit of Christmas that makes us want to give gifts without recognition.”
I tell him that to prove something does not exists is impossible. I can’t prove that Santa, the man with reindeer, does not exist.
He has asked me if I am Santa Claus. To which I answered, “You know for a fact that the spirit of Santa has worked through me. It has worked through you as well.”
I tell him I doubt there’s a man in a red suit with flying reindeer. I tell him it’s highly unlikely. I concede, though, that I can’t prove he doesn’t. Now I tell the same things to my other children. They dismiss these comments, choosing instead to believe in it. I’ve turned it around on them, “Do you SERIOUSLY believe that reindeer can fly?” They say they do. Then, I tell them that there’s so much more magic than just flying reindeer, and explain that someday they will understand.
I know, without a doubt, that the spirit that is Santa Claus lives on in my heart this time of year, blessing me with mysterious gifts and a renewed appreciation for the ones I’ve already been given.
I do believe in Santa.