She was just about to lick the envelope when I screamed, “don’t close it!” The last thing I needed was for the letter to Santa to be sealed tight, leaving me to hide in the bathroom with the shower running to steam it open so I could get a glimpse at her Christmas requests.
The look on her face was pure puzzlement, with a hint of something more. Why couldn’t she seal the envelope? Why does her mother need to see the private communique between a little girl and the benevolent being in the North Pole? She wanted answers.
Four years ago, three, even two, there would have been no questioning. The envelope would have been handed over forthwith, the back flapping in the breeze.
But the age of innocence is almost over. Santa’s magic is beginning to dull. The suspicions have begun to form. Belief must be supported by fact. And to supply those facts, one must always be on his or her toes.
I’m trying. I came up with a reason lickety split – that Santa can only supply so many things on her list, and that I might be called upon to fill a portion. After all, he’s got millions of presents to make and buy; he can only do so much for one little girl. He needs our help.
It worked. For now.
But I’m not sure how much longer we have with the old man in the red suit. I know I’m lucky he’s stuck around this long, all the way to 9. My own belief in the man was suspended well before thanks to a teacher unwittingly flapping his gums in front of me at 7.
There are many out there who criticize those of us who allow our kids to believe in Santa at all. We’re only setting them up for heartache, only teaching our kids that they can’t trust us.
Perhaps. Or perhaps we are giving them a gift of the type that can’t be placed beneath a tree. We’re giving them the gift of promise, a promise that anything is possible, that dreams really can come true.
That I still remember how the bubble of magic surrounding Christmas was deflated says to me not that heartache is inevitable but that the days of believing were important to my childhood, that I truly loved believing in someone out there who cared enough about little children the world over to give and give and give to them.
I lost him once.
I’m not ready to let him go again.
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