Christmas Magic


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When I was little, the world was amazing.  The first snowfall  was among the best days of the year.   Everything was worth exploring, in hopes of discovering something new and fascinating, and everything was fascinating.

Stepping on a crack had serious implications.   The wishbone in a turkey earned its name.   Blowing out all of the candles on a birthday cake could change your life.  The idea of some dude half a world away, watching you, then sneaking into your house to dish our rewards and punishments wasn’t pervy and sick, it was wonderful.

Then, one day, it all changes.

Somebody–a classmate, a older brother, a neighbor–let’s it slip that Santa isn’t real, and the implications snowball.   That day, the magic dies.

Wishing on a star? Over.

The Easter Bunny? Hasenpfeffer.

Growing up to be Superman?  Welcome to the rat race.

It’s a sad day when kids stop believing in magic.

I don’t believe in lying to my children, but I also don’t believe in destroying their magic.  It’s a balancing act.

When my son was 6, an older boy at daycare tried to kill Santa for him.  He was upset.

“Dad, is Santa real?”

“What do you think?”

“I don’t believe in Santa.”

“Okay, I’ll let him know.”

“Nonononononono!  Don’t tell him!”

Was it lying?  Probably, but he obviously wasn’t ready to stop believing, so I let him continue.   A year later, we had the same conversation, but the results were quite different.

“Dad, you’ve always said that you hate lying, so why did you let me believe in Santa?”

So I told him the truth.   Magic is a frail thing that’s nearly impossible to reclaim and I wanted him to have that treasure for as long as possible.  And, “Now that you know, you are in on the conspiracy.  You’ve been drafted.   Don’t kill the magic for anyone else.”

It was weird having him help me stuff stockings.

If you’ve got kids(and celebrate Christmas), how do you handle the Santa problem?

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    1. I loved this article! My first child was born this October and I wonder whether or not we should discuss Santa with him when he gets older. Part of me doesn’t want him to experience the pain and disappointment when he finds out the truth. I hope we can explain that Santa isn’t a person, but rather a feeling of kindness and good that we all share.

    2. We just let the kids figure it out for themselves and they will. From the chain and padlock on the parents closet door to the weird smelling Santa with a funny beard at the store, the magic dies gradually and at a different pace for each kidlet. About the only problem we have had is the older kids getting angry at a younger kid and trying to “enlighten them” as a way of getting back for the younger one walking into their room. But, it doesn’t take much to fix that. We just pull them aside and remind them about that nice present they got last year and that this year’s equivalent can disappear just as easily as appear.

    3. Aw, I think you handled that quite well! I hope I can be such a wonderful parent when “Santa killing” time comes around.

    4. I just love this story. I too have a real issue with always being truthful, and share that with my kids. I’d like to share with you the way my father explained it to me, which is one of the most magical moments of my life.

      When I asked my father if Santa was real, he told me “Of course!” Being the wise 8-year-old I was, I said, “He’s not a real person, Dad!”

      Then he sat me down and told me how proud he was of me and that I was growing up. He explained that Santa may not be a person, but he’s certainly real. He explained that Santa is the spirit of Christmas; that wonderful feeling of joy you get in giving a present and watching someone’s face when they open it.

      He said little kids are too young to understand about the spirit of Santa, so parents depict Santa as a person to make it easier for them to understand. Knowing the true nature of Santa made me a big girl. I felt so proud, and never harbored any resentment.

      When my oldest stopped believing, he didn’t tell us at all. He simply came out with it one day. What a disappointment that I couldn’t share the same story with him! I guess there’s always the 4 year old!

    5. Wait, you mean to tell me that I’m not going to develop super powers and fight crime when I grow up!?

      I don’t have kids, but a LOT of my friends do, and many of those little ones are at the age where the Santa talk comes into play. Most dread having to tell their children that it was something that wasn’t real, especially with the first child. It’s just one of those difficult moments when I’m happy being the one to give presents and not have to deal with that side (for now).

    6. I don’t have kids yet and I am not sure if I will be able to do what I plan to do, but I was thinking of introducing Santa and such as a play that kids can be a part of. It’s a story that is acted out every year like other books we read at home and that at this time of year you can be part of the story. That way, even at a young age they know it isn’t real.

    7. My daughter, who just turned 5, still believes in Santa and I’m going to continue to let her. I’ve also invented the Hanukkah Fairy, who she is also allowed to believe in as long as she wants.

      I’ll cross the real or not bridge when we come to it. Quite frankly, the Tooth Fairy freaks me out a bit more!

    8. I never remember believing in Santa but I still love the idea of magic. I was also told by my mom to avoid crushing other people’s feelings and beliefs if they aren’t hurting anyone. So I never told anyone that Santa wasn’t real. But I still love the idea of magic.

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