Take a look at that title again. I mean, how creepy is that, anyway? I mean, personally, I don’t like to think about a man I’ve never met hovering over me in the dark while I’m sleeping. But don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the gifts.
Yes, I know all you Thanksgiving advocates out there are sighing and turning away from your computer screens right about now as you realize that I’m already talking about Santa Claus on November 8th. Did I mention that I listened to Christmas music while I baked the pumpkin pies on Halloween? I’m sorry. I just love Christmas music, and Christmas in general. It is the only holiday I will agree to decorate for, in fact. So if you are on a Thanksgiving crusade, just cover your ears and hum until this is over. (what? that’s not working?)
Despite my love of Christmas, I do not consider myself a materialistic person at all. Which is why my friend Kim’s statement last night really hit home and made me ponder the concept of Santa in a whole new way. To paraphrase, roughly: “Santa is just another way that we over-commercialize the holiday.”
I had posed a question to my best girlfriends over a glass of wine (okay, a few) during one of our few and far between gatherings which have evolved from regular Friday lunch play dates with our small children into a sort of girls night out (although I cringe at the term, because I hate it and it describes absolutely nothing about our time together).
The question was: “So what are we doing about this Santa thing?”
It’s something that has been on my mind lately now that I have a ten year old (who still adamantly believes in the big man in the red suit) coming home from school and explaining that more and more of his classmates no longer believe in the magic. I know the question is coming soon: Is he real? I just don’t know how to go about answering it. Kim said she told the truth: it’s not real, it never was. And her reasoning makes absolute sense to me. Tell children the truth, always, and they will have every reason to trust you, always.
This of course is in direct contrast to the way I was raised, where even after we didn’t “believe” anymore, my parents went on with the ruse, just for our amusement (and perhaps more of their own). Even today, my Mom will say to me on Christmas morning, “Santa came to our house!” and then she goes on to tell me whatever it is that my Dad put in her stocking.
So when one of my kids finally asks the big question, (and let’s face it, it will be Henry), what will I do? Will I wink and smile and say, “of course he’s real!” with the understanding between us that it’s all pretend? Or I will be completely frank and explain that’s it’s all been a game designed to entertain the parents of small children, in order to give them a bright spot of fun amidst all the crazy and chaos that is Christmastime with small children? “I’m sorry I lied, but it was SO much fun!”
Honestly, I actually can’t wait until it all ends. It’s exhausting pretending to be Santa! First there’s all the explaining (mostly to Henry) that no, Santa does not have unlimited funds, and even though he is magic, there is still a $$ limit. Then, there’s all the sneaking around buying gifts when the kids aren’t with me–which, when would that be? Then hiding the gifts. Then, the most difficult part in recent years–staying up late, after several Christmas Eve drinks, mind you–to put out the gifts. I’m just not as giddy about it as I was in the early years.
Well, I saw this on Pinterest (pause here to make fun of me for being sucked into yet another social outlet), and I think it may be a wonderful mix of both answers:
“Dear Lucy (I don’t have a kid named Lucy, but this lady does),
Thank you for your letter. You asked a very good question: “Are you Santa?”
I know you’ve wanted the answer to this question for a long time, and I’ve had to give it careful thought to know just what to say.
The answer is no. I am not Santa. There is no one Santa.
I am the person who fills your stockings with presents, though. I also choose and wrap the presents under the tree, the same way my mom did for me, and the same way her mom did for her. (And yes, Daddy helps, too.)
I imagine you will someday do this for your children, and I know you will love seeing them run down the stairs on Christmas morning. You will love seeing them sit under the tree, their small faces lit with Christmas lights.
This won’t make you Santa, though.
Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch.
It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.
Santa is a teacher, and I have been his student, and now you know the secret of how he gets down all those chimneys on Christmas Eve: he has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy.
With full hearts, people like Daddy and me take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible.
So, no. I am not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too.
I love you and I always will.
Mama” (I would never call myself Mama, either)
Isn’t that the sweetest thing? In order to keep with own family’s system of not talking about anything important out loud, I will probably just print out 3 copies of this letter and cross out Lucy’s name and write in my own kids’ names.
So what’s your take? What are you doing about this Santa thing? I’m open to suggestions. I have a feeling this will be the last Christmas that all three of my kids can hear the sleigh bell.
(If you didn’t catch that last reference, you need to watch the Polar Express. Try not to be overly creeped out by the animated version of Tom Hanks. It’s just as worrisome as someone watching you sleep).