It’s going to happen.
No matter how hard we avoid it or try to put it off, no matter how much Christmas joy we throw out there or how many presents we cram under the tree or how many holiday songs we play on our iPhones in the car, there’s going to come a day when our kids will ask us, “Is Santa Claus real?”
Honestly, I dreaded this talk more than I dreaded the birds and the bees talk.
I’m a mom of four, so I knew we’d have to address this more times than a lot of parents. I’d prepared myself as much as anyone can, but when it came, a bit of sadness settled in my heart.
To me, Santa represents a time of innocence and wonder, when the hope and joy of the holidays are possible without any of the negative weighing them down, when holiday lights are still magical and the love of driving around town, looking at the decorations makes me giggle. To me, Santa embodies this time of year, when people seem to try a whole lot harder to be merry and bright, to give goodwill to one another, and simply find a bit of kindness that seems to elude us all too often during the other 11 months.
“Is Santa real?” my daughter asked me during her sixth-grade Christmas.
“Why are you asking?” Words tumbled in my brain. Would I say the right thing? Would I ruin Christmas forever?
“Some kids at school said he’s not real. That our parents are Santa.” She looked at me with tear-filled eyes. “Is this true?”
I didn’t want to say it. I didn’t want to tell her the truth because for me, it dimmed a bit of the Christmas spirit and promise of the better in all of us as well.
I wanted all of us to hold onto that for as long as we all could.
“What is Christmas about?” I asked.
“It’s about family and love.”
Whew! I guess I’d done something right for her to give me that answer. “That’s right. So if Christmas is about family and love and hope, is that going to change?”
“Then does it matter if Santa is a guy who comes down our chimney or if it’s us?” Oh man. I have no idea how I came up with that, but it came out beautifully.
My daughter gave me a tearful smile and shook her head. “No, Mom. It doesn’t.”
“Did I answer your question?”
She nodded and we left it at that.
Now our second child, didn’t take that answer as easily. The conversation went on for a bit longer, but the outcome was the same: an appreciation for what this holiday represents: family, love, and hope.
If my kids always believe in those, Christmas will never lose its sparkle.