Let me start off by saying that for as long as I can remember, the Christmas season has absolutely been my favorite time of year. I am the person who loves seeing the Christmas decorations start to appear before we have even reached Thanksgiving, the one ready to listen to Christmas music in early November, the one randomly singing Jingle Bells in July and who sang Silent Night to Elle before bed for months in the middle of the summer. Christmas ALWAYS makes my heart happy. It never, ever fails me. Even during years that were more difficult than the rest, Christmas has always been sure to raise my spirits and make me feel that no matter what, all was right with the world. Love is bountiful and the spirit of giving and gratitude is magical. Christmas is magic. If everyone in the world could carry the magic and the spirit of Christmas with them throughout the whole year, our world would surely be a better place. There is magic in the celebration, the lights, the music, the smiles, the strangers paying for your coffee, the extra hands in the soup kitchens, the donations to families in need, the extra time to spend with friends and family, the thrill of finding the perfect gift for someone, the dancing, the parades, Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph and Frosty, and yes…. Santa. And here is where I might start to lose you.
I never believed that Santa was leaving presents under my tree, and I won’t be telling my children that either. *GASP* I realize this puts me in the extreme minority and most people would say that I’m stealing part of the wonder of childhood from her. Of course I think that logic is terribly flawed. I truly don’t judge anyone who disagrees with me, but for me the Santa story doesn’t sit quite right and my childhood was no less magical and wonderful than anyone else’s. And my imagination certainly didn’t suffer. I was the child who was supposed to write a one page fictional story in my fourth grade class and turned in a fifteen page story. I could always be found with my nose in a Chronicles of Narnia or other fantasy book, dreaming up wild scenes in my head. Movies made from books always disappointed me because the images on the screen were not nearly as exciting as the ones in my head. Of course Santa was a part of mine and will be a part of my children’s childhood in the same way that Pinocchio, Cinderella, and Snow White are. Fantasy and make believe are a completely necessary part of childhood that the imagination thrives on. Imagination and dreaming are no less important than reality, and reality is no less important than imagination. I feel there is way to encourage and foster healthy fantasy that helps children to problem solve and think outside of the box that doesn’t endanger the trust with my child that I have been working so hard to build.
Since the very second that my child was born, we have been fostering a beautiful bond together. From the first skin to skin contact, the hours on end of nursing, rocking and singing, the responding to her every need with gentle and unconditional love. It is a bond that will continue to flourish with honesty. One thing that I want her to know and feel for certain is that she can always look to me for gentle and complete honesty. I will expect honesty from her as she grows and blossoms, and she should expect the same from me as her mother. My conscience does not allow me to feel comfortable misleading her, no matter how “white” the lie. Sure, there are millions of children in the world who won’t be affected permanently from the disappointment of finding out the truth about Santa. And please don’t think I’m suggesting that anyone do anything other than what they feel is right for their child. I’m just going to skip the finding out part and have Santa be a wonderful story that we tell at Christmas. She’ll draw pictures of what she imagines Santa’s house would look like with cotton candy snow and candy cane chimneys and she can pick out gifts to give to her friends and family and sign them from Santa so they are a wonderful secret. And with all of that we will build the foundation of her Christmas. It won’t be a consumers Christmas of excess. It will be a foundation of gratitude and giving, of magic that comes from serving others and having a circle of love around you, and of course presents under the tree. I will make sure the details of the season not only help her show her love for others, but let her know that she is so hugely and unconditionally loved and that magic is always surrounding her. The joy and light in her eyes upon coming down on Christmas morning to magic in her living room will be a memory that she will never forget and will never fade no matter how old she is, because magic is the miracle that happens whenever there is love like an ocean in your heart.