Oh I’m mad.
I’m forgoing the cute pictures of my kids or humor tonight, guys.
Only two blogs ago I touched on how much I love that Brynn (9) still believed in Santa. How she, even more than our 3 and 5 year old, had such a innocent and creative imagination that all things mystical and unexplained filled her with so much joy. Did you catch the past tense in believed? As of this afternoon, my daughter no longer has that innocent wonder when it comes to magic.
And I’m pissed.
This is my open letter to parents who CHOOSE not to do “Santa”.
Good for you. Honestly. This holiday, at it’s core, for our family *is* about celebrating the birth of Jesus. But I kind of view it like Valentine’s Day. Sure, Nick may buy me flowers and a card, I may get a little bit more gussied up, but I’m one of those die hard romantics that believes that a couple should be in love 24/7/365. I don’t need February 14th to show Nick that I love him, anymore than I need December 25th to show God I love Him. Of course we will sing “Happy Birthday, Jesus” and read the Christmas Story from the New Testament…but we live that faith on a daily basis–so I am 100% comfortable with including Santa, Rudolph, Frosty and the gang in our month-long celebration of Christmas. If *YOU* choose to leave them out, I repeat–good for you.
If you decide, though, that it’s not important to make sure your kids don’t ruin it for the rest of our kids…you can feel free to shove it.
When my daughter comes home, after two straight days of classmates tormenting her for her innocence and firm stance that Santa IS real–when she tells me that someone told her that her parents are “DECEIVING” her by moving an elf around the house–I know that these words are simply being parroted by children hearing them from adults around them and it’s WRONG. I am not “deceiving” my child. I have never once said, “Yes, Brynn…there is a real, magic Santa Claus”—I have always diverted and asked her, “Well, what do YOU think?”–to which her imagination would take off and she would explain rapidly how she KNOWS it’s possible.
The fact is, Brynn has a low self esteem. She has been self conscious of her body, her hair, her skin color, her voice, her personality…everything. And once I knew that kids who don’t believe were ganging up on her, I had no choice but to tell her the truth when she repeatedly asked me point blank. You see, I didn’t want those jerk 9 year olds to have ONE MORE thing to torment her with. I pictured her defiantly standing there saying, “My MOMMY told me Santa’s REAL…” only to inevitably discover the truth and have to be embarrassed for her defending Santa.
So I had to sit her down, and as gently as possible, tell her that Mommy was the one who put the Santa presents under the tree.
And oh, how she fought the reality of it. Her face looked as if I had physically slapped her and she just whispered, “No, you’re lying.” I was fighting back tears as I fumbled over my words and tried to explain that there WAS a Santa Claus, but he needed parents’ help since he couldn’t get to ALL of the kids, and he was a real man and had died, but the magic of Christmas has lived on through parents who kept it alive and now she was “in the know” and had to help me. She just held herself and hung her head and wouldn’t talk to me for several minutes.
At this point, Josie walked in and Brynn burst out, “ITS ALL A LIE!” and began sobbing, with the most heartbroken face imaginable. Josie, of course, had no idea what was going on, and left to go find Nicholas.
All I could do was reach out and hold Brynn, like the child she is. And tell her how much I loved her and that there is magic, and I needed her help to keep it going.
After some time, she started suggesting (slowly) ideas for hiding the elf around the house, and within 15 minutes she was excitedly telling me about how she was going to make 100 mini donuts for Dinglebert to leave out. She even went downstairs and timidly touched his hand…as if some final physical string holding her back needed to be broken.
So she helped me move the elf tonight, and afterwards we sat on the couch. The first thing she said was, “But the Sandman and Jack Frost…you can’t make kids fall asleep or make the weather cold…so they must be real.” I just tucked her closer to me and smiled back bittersweet tears. Happy that there was still a ghost of my wide eyed toddler in this ever changing soon-to-be-woman child curled up (barely fitting!) in my lap.
I wish so bad she could have come to understand the secrets of Christmas on her own time like I did. Around 10, but slowly putting it together myself. Not because I was attacked for my belief in magical entities. I wish so bad those kids’ parents had one shred of compassion for those of us who encourage our perfectly normal, Christian children to believe in Santa and all the wonder that comes with Christmas.
If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t break the spell.
EDIT: Just had to add that of course we have talked extensively how she is not to ruin it for anyone else.