Thursday, December 24, 2009

Yes, Virginia - There IS a Santa Claus... He's MAGIC!

I was just reading a post by a neurotic whiner liberal parent at HuffPo. She's apparently floundering in guilt for lying to her daughter - about Santa Claus.

This is a subject many of us have had to address. For our family, last year was the first sign of disbelief for our daughter. This year came the talk. And even after our heart to heart, deep down I believe it's not a lie to tell your children about Santa Claus.

My own mother always responded to questions about the big guy with "Of course he's real! Santa Claus is part of the magic of Christmas!" And that's what I told my own children. I admit, as a teenager and younger adult my mom's answer seemed hokey to me. Now that I'm older and (hopefully) a more mature parent myself, I see perfect beauty in her answer.

After assuring my kids for years that of course there was a morbidly obese man in politically incorrect fur trying to squeeze down our never-used chimney bearing gifts in store packaging, this year I had to face the music again... And face the big, brown eyes staring into my own as belief in magic and wonder began to fade.

"So. My friends on the bus were right. It IS you guys."

Sigh... Thanks, friends on the bus.

"You lied to me."

The words I never want to hear as a parent. I work very hard to be honest and open with my kids. I had to let her know the magic of Santa was not - and IS not - a lie. I told her:

Santa Claus is magic. That's 100% true. He's made of hope, and love, and family and giving. And the magic of Santa is the wonderful secret that we grownups all share in. We get to be Santa Claus! One night of the whole year, we get to actually be the most wonderful thing kids ever heard of! And now, my dear... YOU are also Santa Claus. With a little brother and sister who believe, YOU get to be a part of the magic. You can answer their questions about Santa, remind them the elves are watching when they're rotten, and help keep the secret to keep the magic alive! How can Santa not be real? You're real!

"So... even the Santa track thing on the weather is a big fake?"

No, darling. It's more of the magic. The tracker you're talking about is run from a government agency. That means that one night of the year, even the government of the country is Santa. It's important enough to all of us grownups that someone took the time to make a special program so little children could follow Santa around the map, watching and waiting. Only magic could make so many people from so many different families and backgrounds come together in one idea - to make children happy and the world a little nicer - if only for one night.

"So.... everybody's Santa? Even me? That is magic, huh?"

And with that simple acceptance, I saw the trouble drain from her face. Sure, she's moved beyond a precious part of childhood. It makes me a little sad. But at the same time, she has embraced her new role as Santa, and has taken up the cause for her littler siblings. I've heard her this week explaining about those guys in red suits at the mall (Santa's helpers), reminding them that the elves can see them if they're bad, and helping to write letters to the big guy, correcting spelling to make sure they get the right gifts.

You don't ever have to explain that you lied if you choose instead to make your children a part of the magic. If you've read this, you care enough about someone believing that you tried to look it up. That means... well... YOU are Santa, too. Welcome to the club.

I know my own (and my mother's) take isn't as famous or beautifully written as the original "Yes, Virginia, There IS a Santa Claus". But it has worked for us. Instead of a disillusioned child, I now have a new member of the Secret Santa club. Instead of admitting a lie, I could assure her I was telling the truth all along. And instead of feeling guilty, I feel fortunate to have this wonderful child move not from belief to disbelief, but only from one end of the magic to the other.

Thank you, Mom. You were right... It is magic. Merry Christmas.

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