My daughter found out the truth about Santa the other week.
It all happened so fast, I didn’t realize what exactly was going on. We were at our school book fair and I told her to tell me what books she was interested in, because maybe Santa would buy them. She looked at me and nonchalantly said, “But mom, you are Santa.”
I froze in my steps as I thought about all the ways I thought this was going to happen. Maybe we would go out to Starbucks and have a long conversation like the Hallmark stories always depict. Or maybe she would catch me putting toys under the tree in the middle of the night. Perhaps she would find out from friends at school and I could comfort her at home, by the fireplace with hot cocoa. But nope, it was just like real life actually: not planned, and most certainly not dull.
I looked at her and asked her, “What do you think?” She smiled and nodded yes and I confirmed her beliefs.
A few days ago she brought up Santa again and asked me if he was real. We were in the car so she couldn’t see my eyes bug out as I thought how to approach this. I asked her what her thoughts were and she said, “Mom, I don’t think he’s real, but the idea makes me sad. I want to know the truth, for sure.”
I took a deep breath, and even though this wasn’t Starbucks, and we weren’t sitting next to our tree or holding a cup of hot cocoa, I told her the truth. I also told her that didn’t mean she had to stop believing the magic, the magic simply changed to something else. It was the magic of giving.
I asked her if it really mattered if the gifts were from Santa or us or anyone else. Like I expected she told me it didn’t matter where the gifts came from, it was the excitement of the gift that she loved. I asked her what kind of feelings she had when she had when she gave gifts to people who weren’t expecting them. She told me she was excited to see their face when they opened it.
I continued to explain that’s the real magic. It’s giving and receiving when we don’t necessarily expect it. Santa is the figure that gives us a chance to do it, but the real excitement is the selflessness behind the gifts.
She nodded enthusiastically and I patted myself on the back. She immediately wanted to play Santa for her two younger brothers and give them something they wouldn’t think their mom and dad would give them. I could see the magic back in her eyes.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the commercialism of Christmas. But, when we step back and look around, it’s not the commercialism that brings us together. It’s the celebration, of life and each other, that brings out the real magic of the season.