The Gut Punch
Yesterday, while doing some chores around the house my 9-year-old approaches me somewhat casually, which makes me suspect something is up. Indeed something was up. As I am puttering around doing things he begins to explain to me that he is starting to think that my husband and I are really the ones getting him gifts for Christmas, not Santa. I continued puttering as I felt his eyes searching me for some kind of reaction. This is it. The moment when the magic of Christmas ends.
In my mind, I felt like someone had just sucker punched me directly in the gut. All of the emotions that a parent would feel in this situation came to the surface. It was a wave of emotion that could have wiped out a small town. I didn’t flinch. Not once did I let any of it show through. It felt like some twisted version of the movie Frozen when she has to conceal everything. After about 5 seconds of silence from me with the one exception of a “hmmm”, I finally tempered my emotions enough to look him in the eye.
I simply asked him why he thought such a thing. He then proceeded to explain to me that he wasn’t so sure that Santa could deliver all those toys around the world and that he was going to start to look for clues. My son told me he was going to compare handwriting to see if ours and Santa’s were the same. That he was going to start looking around the house for hints. I just stood there and nodded my head. When he was finished explaining his very logical plan and his reasoning, it was my turn.
The Rebound for the Magic of Christmas
What to do. For a moment, I thought about just speaking truthfully and explaining things as delicately as I knew how to. But when I looked into his hazel eyes I saw a little boy who still wanted to believe. I could see the hope in his eyes as if it were another being standing in the room between us. A real being that could be felt, touched and seen. So, I chose my words very carefully, as my son is a highly intelligent little boy.
The first thing I did was compliment him on his plan of action. I told him how well thought out his plan was, and reasonable to think. I let him know that his thoughts were not outrageous and he wasn’t the first child to have these suspicions. Obviously he put a lot of thought into this and the only way for me to preserve the belief that still lingered inside of him was to approach him with logic and reason.
I proceeded to ask him questions rather than make statements. I asked him if he thought we could afford to buy him all of the gifts he recieves each year. Where would we keep them without him seeing them? We live in an 1100sq ft Cape I reminded him. When he responded the basement, I told him that place looked worse than the room of shame, (which is not a lie) and that it would be very difficult to find space down there. I asked him when did he think my husband and I had the time to get all of those gifts from Santa? The follow-up and final unanswerable question I posed was simple. Why would we write some gifts from us and some from Santa? If we were really Santa wouldn’t we just take credit for all of it anyway?
Of course I followed that up with asking him about our Elf and his theories on him and how he got around at night while we slept. These were all questions he hadn’t considered and when asked, he couldn’t answer. Or…he didn’t want to answer. That part I am still unsure of.
After his bath, I suggested that he finish his letter to Santa if he wanted to and make sure he includes his list. He took a Polaroid of our puppy and asked to include it with his letter. Of course I said yes. I also suggested that if we finish dinner early enough we should watch The Polar Express to kick off the Christmas Season. He agreed and so we did.
The Reality of the Magic of Christmas
After I tearfully explained the events to my husband we didn’t utter another word about it. Once dinner was finished we watched the movie. One we have always treasured along with the book. I never realized how my son resembled the main character in the movie. His greenish-hazel eyes, light brown hair, slight build. It was like seeing the movie for the first time. I found myself crying at parts that never made me cry before last night, even my husband cried. The ending, which always made me cry had me sobbing this time.
Who was I crying for? Myself? The role that is slipping away that we have had such a luxury to enjoy these past 9 years? Or was I crying for my son? The loss of a piece of his innocence. Knowing the others are now on the chopping block as well. The Toothfairy, The Easter Bunny and Jack Frost. The Fairy Garden we built together. All of the Magic we have enjoyed for nearly a decade. When Santa tells the boy at the end of the movie to remember that the true spirit of Christmas lies in his heart, I felt my heart breaking.
The reality is that no matter how hard I want to, I can’t stop time. I can’t keep my little boy in this moment forever. My brain understands but my heart is so far from getting it. I feel like this is the last one. The last morning of wonder and amazement. The last time my little boy will truly believe in magic so innocently.
Salvaging the Magic of Christmas
I believe in magic. And that will be my honest answer when that question comes and I know it is coming. My son simply being here is nothing short of a miracle. The love that we all share for each other, even during the tough times, is pure magic. That’s really what magic is in my eyes, it’s love. What isn’t magical about loving one another, especially when it’s hard, isn’t that the idea behind the spirit of Christmas?
Deciding to respond to my son with questions rather than statements, was I suppose, my attempt to preserve this very special era in our lives. I know the kids in school are talking about it, questioning it. I even had one child tell me outright at my Halloween party that Santa wasn’t real. Not knowing his parents standpoint, I acted shocked and confused, causing him to simply say, “nevermind.”
Yes, we lie to our children while we tell our children not to lie. The hypocrisy is not lost on me. Deep down, I know he will forgive us as we forgave our parents. He will likely be less upset than us. I say that because he is a very logical kid who is very even-keeled when it comes to his emotions. He certainly doesn’t take after me, lol. I am an Aries true to form.
In front of me, is a part of life I am not ready to face. Thankfully, it seems my son isn’t quite ready this year. Next year will likely be a different story. Will that be when the magic of Christmas ends? Or will it simply change and just mean something else. Will he still see the magic, but differently, as we adults see it. I still like to sit on the couch with the lights off and watch the tree twinkle. We will still look forward to seeing the look on our childs face as he opens his presents on Christmas morning, whether he thinks they are from us, or Santa. I do, still as an adult, listen for bells, look for signs, and want to believe.
Maybe that makes me weird. Maybe it doesn’t. In the end, don’t we all want to believe in something?
Leave a Reply