I know, not what you expected on July 6th. Whatevs.
Today, my 7-year-old asked the question. THE question. Driving in the car to one place or another:
“Dad? Mom? Is Santa Claus real?”
(*Side note: Every question, and I mean EVERY question in my car starts with a title query. “Mom?” “Yes.” “What’s seven times nine?” “Sixty-three.” . . . “Mom?” “Yes.” “Why does ‘pita’ have the word ‘pee’ in it?” . . . . “Mom?”
I’m not sure if it’s endearing or a sign that they think I’m going to somehow escape. While still driving the car.
*End side note.)
<furtive glance between parents>
“What do you mean, buddy?”
We hemmed, we hawed, we asked clarifying questions to see exactly what he was getting at, and came to the conclusion that YES he was asking what we thought and NO we were not prepared for this conversation. Therefore, we tabled the issue, planned a parental council on the matter, and went on with the drive.
Here’s the thing. I get it. I understand. We want to tell our children the truth. We want them to have reality firmly in hand. We want them to follow in our belief footsteps, religious or otherwise, and march bravely into their futures.
But I love Santa Claus.
So here’s what we decided to say.
Santa Claus is real, like love is real. Santa is an idea that we all participate in. He represents the goodness, the wholesome magic, that reality that’s set just far enough away from our day-to-day to let him still maintain that sparkle. Santa has different wrapping paper for you, because he’s special and he wants you to feel SPECIAL. He tracks his magical snow footprints down the hallway so that you know he doesn’t take for granted where you are, because you’re PRECIOUS. He’s not a man or a person, but Santa is a concept. And that concept of Santa makes us all a little lighter, happier, and more joyful.
He looked on with the brave smile that says “I’m trying not to be sad about this.” And I hope he understood.
And then we showed him where we hid the Santa wrapping paper, and told him he was sworn to secrecy for his little brother. And all the world was a better place, ’cause you KNOW there’s nothing happier for an older brother than being in on a secret with mom & dad. Happy ending to all.
…and to all a good night.