Monday, December 19, 2011

The Santa Talk

Yesterday, Caroline was down in the basement with me helping me to wrap our family Christmas gifts. She kind of wandered back to the back part of the basement and I got a little nervous because of the mysterious piles of boxes and other unlabeled cardboard boxes that clearly aren't usually there. However, it wasn't those boxes that she zeroed in on. Nope. She noticed the container of wrapping paper and in that container was wrapping paper she recognized from the gifts from Santa last year. Doh. Although I've been talking for a year about the fact that Caroline has been questioning the whole Santa story, this was kind of a big deal to her.

When she asked me about the wrapping paper, I kind of nonchalantly said, "Oh, well Santa leaves me the left over paper."

To that she replied, "Oh come on, mommy. Tell me the truth YOU are Santa."

And to that I told her to just wait a minute, I had something I wanted her to read. And this is where I am bowing down and thanking the wonderful people at Pinterest. Thanks to them, a few weeks ago, someone posted this letter she had written to her daughter about the Santa question. When I read it, I almost cried. It summed up the exact way I was feeling about Santa and how even if you know that Santa isn't truly a real person, that he is still real in our hearts and that Christmas is still magic and wonderful. So you'll excuse me for basically ripping off the letter because I know I couldn't say it any better myself. I ran upstairs, printed the letter I'd already prepared and took it down for Caroline to read.

Dear Caroline,

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.

Love, Mommy

She started reading it and stopped midway through to ask me some questions. I told her she had to read it all the way through and then we could talk. Quite honestly, I'm not sure she 100% got it, but knowing how smart she is, she got something out of it. She decided to give the letter back to me but I will probably give it to her and tell her to keep it some where secret. She seemed okay with it and I told her that Christmas really is a magical and wonderful time and that it's important to me for her to keep the spirit of Christmas in her heart.

We had a bunch of hugs and she sat on my lap for a little while after that. (She never sits on my lap anymore!) And randomly, as we were watching gifts we were also watching The Polar Express which is a pretty magical movie in and of itself about believing, so I thought it was quite fitting.

I know she can't believe in the true embodiment of Santa forever and I wish it wasn't ending so soon, but I truly hope that by showing her a different way to believe that I could make it so she wasn't feeling a letdown from the magic like I remember feeling when I figured it out. I also feel as though I have an obligation to my kids to tell them the truth about things since I tell them the truth about pretty much everything else and Santa should be no different.


Bracken said...

Excellent idea. To my surprise Sydney is adamant this year that she believes in Santa.

Laura said...

That's a great letter. Thanks for sharing it!