So, A Fat Man Dressed in Red Velvet Sneaks Into Our House While We're Sleeping

A month ago I said something to Mr. P about Santa. Shark Boy overheard and said, "There's no such thing as Santa."

I ignored this entirely.

He's only in first grade. He's just six. It's too soon.

I remember the first year I knew for certain that Mom and Dad were Santa. I don't remember how old I was but it was older than 6 and it was the year I got my Sonny and Cher dolls. Maybe 1975?

I do not recall discussing this with my parents. I do remember looking for and finding the stash of gifts under a big blanket in our basement and going through them. They were already wrapped and I carefully slipped my finger under the tape on some of the boxes, easing it loose so I didn't tear the paper, and peeking at box tops to see what "Santa" was leaving under the tree.

I tried to act surprised on Christmas morning. Was I disappointed that I was not actually surprised? Just a tiny bit. Mostly, I was anxious to get Cher's dressing room full of clothes set up.

I remember when my daughter hounded me relentlessly to confirm her suspicions, when apparently none of the other first graders believed any more in Santa. I did not want to let go of the magic yet. She was so little and it was a tough year for us to stop believing. But she would not let it go, and she was not having any verbal stylings from me about the spirit of Christmas being TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY ALIVE AND WELL AND COMING TO VISIT NOW PLEASE SHUT UP BEFORE YOU GET COAL and I told her. I told her and I've regretted ever since that I didn't just lie my face off.


So I ignored Shark Boy. I didn't ask what his friends at school were saying about the issue. And now that Christmas is close, I think he has decided to believe. He received a letter from Santa yesterday in the mail (I don't know who sent it. Santa I suppose...) and he was excited about that and anxious to write a thank you in response for the enclosed reindeer ornament.

I'm relieved.

You know what people always say about how "they grow up so fast"? They say that because damn it all, it's true. And it's not easy. As much as you try - to give, to guide, to model, to insist upon - they will with each passing year be more "in the world". They will make more decisions for themselves and be more "out there" with the big vast world working on them, breaking in with the overwhelming reality of -- of everything.

Magical things will disappear quickly. Fairy tales will be the stuff of childhood stories and Santa will be a charming tradition. How could they have ever thought reindeer could fly a sled around the whole world in one night?

Santa is a lie. You want a truth? Here's a truth: the world will be harsh and unconcerned about our little babies hearts.

I've watched my daughter deal with a lot of things, among them the death of friends from suicide and murder. I can't even believe I am able to type that sentence.

I've talked to Shark Boy about the war more than I care to think about. Why? Where? Will it come here? We're the good guys right? Are we winning?

What will the be the state of the world when my sons are old enough to fight with something other than Nerf guns and plastic light sabers? My soul trembles at the very thought of this.

The world is coming for my boys soon enough. Soon enough they will cease believing in magic and move on from childish things. I believe they will square their broad shoulders and face this world with confidence and strength. And I pray they won't get too hurt in the process.

When I think of fairy tales, including Santa Claus, I see my children like rockets blasting off into space. As they grow they are quickly climbing, gaining altitude into adulthood, headed to whatever orbit is meant for them. As they go, like the space shuttle, things fall away. Things that gave them a boost, that served a purpose for a time, and can be let go when the time is right.

Things like believing in magic. There is after all, only one time in your life when things are so simple and easy that you can honestly believe in magic. Childhood.

So, please believe Shark Boy. The real, grown-up world where you get to be in on the secret can wait another year for you. It's not always all it's cracked up to be, and there is no going back.


Michelle Smiles said...

You must stop reminding me how short my time with my babies will be. I will lock myself in the closet and sob. They won't stop growing up! I hate it.

Meredith said...

Thank you--this answers a lot of questions I've been asking myself about my 6-yr-old and Santa!

And so well said.

Unknown said...

Don't you wish you could just go back to that time when life was easy and Santa and friends REALLY existed. Those were the days. Hey, Sharkboy, slow down buddy. You'll miss these days!

Marie said...

E got told there was no Santa last year when he was 7. I told him when you stop believing then he wont be real, but if you believe then he will still visit.

He wants the stuff so he is a Santa freak this year. But deep down, I know he knows and it sucks.

Lori said...

Santa is very magical. I did enjoy the idea as a child. I guess Daddy-O and I are a bunch of Scrooges. We don't celebrate Santa Claus.

Anonymous said...

You just take things as they come with kids. I know kids that will probably believe in Santa for long time to come. My kids are 6 and 5 and still believe but I know the day will come when they don't. I will continue to enjoy it and keep it alive.

PMKU said...

Great post! I had my daughter going till she was 11. We spent that Christmas in Ohio with my hubby's family. It was a VERY sad Christmas.

But from then on when I'm asked if Santa is real this is my reply, "If you don't believe you don't receive." It's the belief in the spirit of Santa Claus that's so cool. I remember picking kids names off the Christmas tree at the YMCA and shopping for complete strangers. There's really nothing like the giving spirit all year round.

Kat said...

I feel you sista! My son told me he knew there was no Santa so he wasn't going to waste his time writing a letter. he handed me his list, with prices, instead. Guess I don't mind too much since he said he knew Christmas was really about Jesus's birthday. Can't complain with that!

Anonymous said...

So aptly said, Amy. I hope he keeps believing for a long time. But, there were seriously Cher DOLLS? Omigod the 70s were scary.

Anonymous said...

This brought tears to my eyes.

I went in and whispered to the Little Imp..."Believe swwetie, always believe...Santa's as real as the faeries that light upon the summer roses."

Damn, mascara dripping down my white blouse.

Cynthia said...

OK, the Cher doll...hilarious!

Keep on believing!

Sarahviz said...

Lovely post, Amy. My sentiments exactly.

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