I had a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this season. I think part of it was that Thanksgiving came late and we were going to be traveling for a week over the holidays. We moved into a new house, so I didn’t know where all the decorations were going to go … it took me a week to get everything up. I still seriously decked the halls, primarily because keeping the house decorated and taking time for our Christmas traditions is important to me. The boys are getting older and older, and I still want to capture the magic of Christmas. When the house feels like Christmas, there is just a shift in energy in the house.
My boys are in fourth and sixth grades, and I thought for sure this Christmas would be the one where they tell me they know Santa isn’t “real.” We stopped taking them to see Santa several years ago. They caught on that Santa couldn’t possibly be at all those locations, so the Santa at the mall wasn’t the “real” Santa. And to solidify that decision, my youngest son, Jack, declared it was “creepy to sit on a strange man’s lap.”
Our elf on the shelf, Bob, has gotten extremely lazy. Bob often stays in the same spot and is no longer up to shenanigans. The other day, Jack stared at Bob and asked me, “Do you think Bob will ever move again?” I was fast on my feet and replied, “He is waiting on you to tell him what you want from Santa.” As you can see, we have glimmers of belief and curiosity, but that magic and spark of the little one’s excitement for Santa has definitely dwindled.
One night as I tucked the boys into bed, I asked both of them the usual nighttime questions. “What made you happy, and what are you thankful for?” Then I asked them the big whammy of all Christmas questions: “Do you still believe?” Neither boy hesitated as they replied, “Yes, we believe.” But they went on to tell me that most of the kids in their classes don’t believe. And in my heart of hearts, I know they know the “truth,” they just don’t want to tell me.
It was at this moment I realized we were keeping our doubts to ourselves, because it was special for us to believe TOGETHER. Just as much as I didn’t want to ruin the magic for them, they didn’t want to ruin the magic for me. It was our secret.
This caused my eyes to swell with tears, and I looked at the boys and said, “Here’s the deal. There are times in your life you are going to have to believe. You must believe even if it seems impossible. You must choose to believe, because there will always be doubt and fear. To believe is a choice. There are going to be times where your dreams and visions seem out of reach. You are going to have to believe you can achieve anything and that you’re worth going all in on those dreams … that you have to CHOOSE TO BELIEVE when those around you are filling you with doubt. So, there you have it. If you REALLY want anything in life … you must believe. We don’t get what we deserve, we get what we believe.” Both boys looked at me and smiled and gave me one of the biggest hugs ever. They knew I was believing for THEM, and I knew they were believing for ME.
So is Santa real? For me, yes. He is very real. He’s the magical Christmas spirit that lives in me. Santa brings families together across the world for an evening and morning of love, magic and wonder. Santa brings joy, magic and possibility to others. Santa is the belief that anything is possible.
Will I ever tell the boys anything different? NO. Why? Because I really do believe!
For parents who gave up on the Santa thing, it’s OK. We parent authentically, and I don’t think that there is a right or wrong answer to the “Santa” question. But as parents, we have one responsibility that is universal. We must raise children to believe in themselves and believe in others. When we inspire magic and possibility in our youth, we shape our future.
Even if you’ve told your child that Santa isn’t real and that they don’t have to believe, you can tell them this:
“I believe in YOU. I believe in your wildest dreams. I believe in your authenticity and creativity. I believe in your gifts. I believe you can achieve anything you want in life. You are enough, and I can’t wait to watch your magic unfold.”
Because sometimes in life — actually, most of the time in life — all we really need is for someone to believe in us.