Giving Up The Magic

It’s a sad day when kids stop believing in Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, and fairies.

Nederlands: Sinterklaas tijdens het Het Feest ...

Nederlands: Sinterklaas tijdens het Het Feest van Sinterklaas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not because I enjoy lying to my kids, but because–on the day they stop believing–a piece of their innocence is lost.  An unforgettable, valuable part of childhood dies.

Believing in magic is a beautiful thing.

Do you remember the last time you looked around the world with a sense of wonder?  When seeing a puppy form in the clouds was a miracle?  When the idea of an ant carrying 1000 times its own weight was something worth watching?  When the impossible goodness of a fat man squeezing down your chimney fills you with hope instead of making you call 911?

Do I believe in Santa?

Of course not, but I believe the concept of Santa is worthy of my children’s belief.  I don’t want them to lose that innocence and wonder.

When my teenager was young, he asked if Santa was real.  I responded by asking what he thought.  When he told me he didn’t believe, I offered to let Santa know.  His panic told me he wasn’t ready to give up the magic.

The day that conversation didn’t cause a panic, he looked hurt, like he’d lost something precious.  He had.

His world of magic was gone.

The he asked why I had spent his lifetime lying to him.  I told him the truth.  I said I couldn’t bear to be the one to shatter his belief in magic before he was ready.

Then, I informed him that he was in on the conspiracy.  He was not allowed to ruin it for anyone else.  Not his sisters, not his friends.

That Christmas, my little boy helped me stuff stockings, which was an odd feeling.

The magic was over, but we still got to share the magic of his cousins and sisters.

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Christmas Magic


Image via Wikipedia

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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