Keeping the magic alive as your children get older gets tougher and tougher with the unlimited access to information these days on your computers, iPads, iPod Touch’s, etc. Kids are armed with knowledge at their fingertips, often times too much.
My oldest is in fifth grade and two weeks ago came home from school and asked a very pointed question: “are you Santa?” Taken aback and completely unprepared on this random Tuesday afternoon, I paused for a moment. I was not prepared to give it all up but at the same time, did not want to boldface lie either. So I turned it back to her. “Well, what do you think, do YOU believe?” She went through her entire day of discussions and debate on the playground, at lunch, and in computer class (Google is sometimes the DEVIL!). She came to the conclusion that the entire 5th grade boy contingency did not believe (many have older siblings), but they were not teasing those who did. She asked me very logical questions like “how on earth does he get to every house in one night?” and “why do some children not get any presents (the Salvation Army angel tree is a tricky discussion when trying to teach the real meaning of Christmas yet hold onto that belief)” and so on.
She begged me to tell her the truth and I was just about to, when I caught a small hint of hope that she wasn’t ready. I could tell she really, really, really wants to still believe and that guided my next steps. So when she asked me “do you believe?” My answer was “Yes, I do believe in Santa – it’s the magic of Christmas.” I kept it simple but to the point. The next morning our Elf on the Shelf arrived and that’s when I realized I made the right choice not to give her the full monty. She was twirling around the house leading the charge with the best behavior ever and doing a little extra hang time around our elf “Leta”. She wants to believe and is perfectly comfortable with that, and I am too.
I’m pretty sure this is our last year with my oldest. I’m kind of hoping she’ll figure everything out on her own, not with me having to tell her. Some things are just better left unsaid.
Two girlfriends, Ashley & Angie, have forwarded this letter to me this holiday season and I’ve been saving it to share with CSP. Now you can save for when you are ready to share with your oldest children and enjoy the sweet message it delivers. Thank you to Martha Brockenbrough, an author on cozi.com. I couldn’t have written this better myself.
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.