I believed in Santa until I was almost 11. When other kids were telling me he wasn’t real, I would tell them about how he called me every Christmas Eve. He knew what I wanted most, what I had been doing in school and dance, and I even heard Rudolph in the background. I may have questioned the abundance of store Santas, how it was possible for one man to ever get all the way around the world in one night, or how the hell do reindeer fly, but that one call sealed the deal every year.
I don’t remember much of how my parents broke the news to me. I do remember my Mom getting teary eyed and saying something along the lines of even though Santa isn’t a real person, he is the magic that lives in us all at Christmastime. I was also tasked with keeping the secret from my little sister, who was 5 years younger than me and had not yet met her full Santa quota. It wasn’t a shock, but I remember being confused as to why my mom was so sad.
I get it now.
When Miles was born I couldn’t wait until he could fully understand the joy and magic that Christmas brought with it. Christmas Eve once again had that rush of anxiety, except now it wasn’t about what was under the tree for me, but about seeing the joy and happiness that would be on my kid’s face when he would bound down the stairs to see what Santa had brought him. It is a feeling that can only be described by your heart bursting over again, like the first time you laid eyes on your precious newborn.
So now he is 7 1/2, and way too smart. He has a thirst for knowing why things are the way they are and continually questions the validity of, well, everything. Last year, when we saw Santa, Miles grilled that poor guy, “How come you don’t know my name? Do you know my elf’s name? How do you fit in the chimney? Doesn’t your belly hurt from all those cookies?”
The questions have still been coming and, frankly, I’m not ready to give up the charade, especially right before Christmas. I want him, and let’s face it, me, to have one more magical Christmas morning where he believes. On top of that, Ava is just starting to understand the whole thing and it is far too soon for her to not believe. But I know that sometime soon, whether it is this year or the next, I am going to have to let my oldest in on the secret and hope that he is old enough to hold in the truth for his sister’s sake.
So what will I say?
I will tell him that there is a Santa.
He is not someone who lives at the North Pole, makes toys, drinks hot cocoa, and hangs out with elves, flying reindeer, and Mrs. Claus.
But he is real.
~ Santa is the feeling in your belly when you realize that it is December 1st and Christmas is only 24 days away.
~ Santa is the peace that washes over you when you lay on the floor with Daddy and look at the lights on the tree from underneath.
~ Santa is the warmth in your heart when you give someone a present.
~ Santa is the smile on a stranger’s face when you have wished them Happy Holidays.
~ Santa is knowing that someone will have a happy Christmas morning because you put a toy in the bin or gave money to those in need.
~ Santa is waking up on Christmas morning and being surrounded by those you love.
~ Santa is believing in something even though you cannot see or touch it.
~ Santa is Mommy, and Daddy, and everyone else who believed so much in Santa, that they continued the tradition for their children, and someday you will do so for yours.
~ Santa is innocence, and wonder, and pure joy. That is magical.
So now that you know the truth, you have a big job to do. You need to make sure that others, especially younger kids, still believe in Santa. That they always believe in the things they cannot see, that they find joy in being with family, and helping out their friends and neighbors.
Now, you are Santa too.