I was bustling around the kitchen one morning last week making breakfast, finishing lunches, picking Cheerios up from the floor, answering questions, calling out reminders (you know….a typical weekday morning) when sweet M asked me a question that immediately put a hard to stop to my busy-ness.
“Is Santa real?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said, picking my jaw up from ground.
“Well, my friend says he isn’t real.”
“Oh.” I said. “I believe he is real!“
“Well…..her mommy told her he wasn’t real.”
I looked at this nugget of a 5 year old with her hair in pigtails, and I gave her my best talk about magic and believing even in things that might not seem real. We talked about how everything around Christmas was special because of that magic. She seemed satisfied and went back to munching away at her breakfast the way she always does, bite by careful bite.
In my own head, however, I was thinking “No no no no no no no no!!! Not yet! It’s too soon! I’m not ready!” Because I am not. I am not ready to defend Santa to my child. I am not ready to fight for the part of Christmas that is a part of almost every single childhood memory I can recall. I don’t want her to question it yet, and I certainly don’t want to have all the answers all the while hoping that it’s enough to buy us one more year.
As I shared this with some other mothers this week, I realized that my assumption that if you have young children and celebrate Christmas, then you celebrate Santa was way wrong. I learned a lot this week as I listened to moms give their various reasons for not participating in Santa, and I have the utmost respect for those families and their decisions. We are all doing our best for our children, and I know those mothers stand firm in their beliefs. Even though they might be different than mine, I support that. It is my firm belief that we have to support each other even if we believe different things.
And at the same time, I’m still not ready (did I mention that?). We believed wholeheartedly in Santa for a long time, and it’s important to me that my children experience that magic as well. It’s the magic of a Christmas kindness, finding the perfect gift for someone, or receiving the gift you’ve been dreaming about all year. It’s faces full of wonder on Christmas morning and joyful anticipation throughout the season. I want that for them.
As we go about this season, I am doing so with an appreciation and compassion for different beliefs and traditions that I was not aware of last year. I am also hoping against hope that in our little home with our little team, we will continue to believe in the magic of Santa.
Find the joy~
Jessica McCauley, M.Ed. is a parenting coach/consultant. She draws on her background as a Montessori educator and Child Life Specialist to help families navigate the challenges of the early childhood years. Contact Jessica at http://smallhandsbigsteps.com/contact/ for more information or to schedule a consultation.