Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I Still Believe


The Big S.

Mr. Claus.

Kris Kringle.

Whatever you want to call him, Santa is pretty big this time of year. So big, in fact that we pay way too much money to have our pictures taken with him and his reindeer (don't ask - I'm not really into taxidermy). But we play along, go through the motions, oooooh and aaaaah when he comes out from behind that velvety blue curtain like it's the first time we've ever laid eyes on the Big Guy. We think for days, weeks even, ahead of time what we're going to tell him we want for Christmas - all the while looking straight into our parents faces (that would be my face) so that we're sure they hear it too.

Because we believe.

We bake cookies, or sometimes find a bag of stale Oreos in the pantry, and place them on a special plate in front of our gas fireplace - because Santa can totally shimmy down a gas fireplace, can't he? We toss carrots out on the deck for the reindeer - because they get hungry too darn it, and most people forget about them. Besides, Santa really likes his cookies and eats them faster than you can say "Rudolph!" He isn't very good at sharing.

We hang stockings, yes stockings (which are really just big ol socks), on the mantle and hope with all our might that they'll be so full on Christmas morning that they'll have magically found a new home perched up against the couch, brimming with goodies - but not too many goodies, because the dog is prone to finding those goodies after Santa has left and just might have a hunger pain in the middle of the night....

And so the ritual goes.

But tonight, my six year old looks me straight in the eye and says, "Santa isn't real, it's just you and dad buying us presents."

Come again?

"You know, a lot of 5th graders don't believe in Santa." She informs me.

"You're in kindergarten, how do you know what the 5th graders believe in?"

Dodging my question, she adds, as if it couldn't get any worse, "And his beard? It's fake."

I'm dying.

I know that my older kids probably don't really buy the whole fat man in a red suit flying around the entire world in a 12 hour period story, but they go along with it. We watch the Christmas specials, we tell the traditional tales and we talk about stockings of Christmas past. Who knows if any of us really believe what we're saying, but it sure feels good, so we continue - year after year after year.

They've never questioned as bluntly as she did. They've asked gently and then retreated to their own imaginations to ponder the answer, but never just flat out "I don't believe in Santa."

Well, I've got news for you little one.

Mama believes in Santa. And she's no dummy because she knows that if you don't believe, you don't receive.

I don't know about you, but his beard sure looks real to me.


stripeycat said...

a proud *37* and I still believe...
but I shudder to think of the day my little ones will utter those words of disbelief. I want the veil of innocent childhood magic to last as long as it can

Kyla said...

I think I'm just about to write a post about BubTar and his Santa investigations. It is tricky, but I'm holding on to Santa for as long as I can!

Molo said...

That is some crazy Reindeer Katie is riding!

Leanne said...

I still believe in Santa! I can't wait to begin these traditions with my little boy! On the other hand I have a niece (10) and nephew (8) that still believe-or at least we think they do. If they don't, they know the rule "if you don't believe you don't recieve!" I hope in my heart that they still believe. It is really sad when you lose a little piece of your innocence.

Becky said...

I still believe! Maybe not in the actual Santa but in the fun and excitement that Santa brings.

J.Squires said...

It breaks my heart when they stop believing. My 8 year old is heading that way. You can tell that he wants to believe, but he also wants to believe his big brother when he says Santa isn't real.

Kendra said...

I always felt a little leery about Santa; I didn't like the idea of spending the first few years of my kids' lives lying to them. But then I saw the light in my now-6-year-old's eyes when he talked about this magical creature of Christmas, and I knew it wasn't lying. It's helping him to believe that things can exist, just because we say they do. And that can be Santa or world peace. But we can believe things into being.

I don't know how literally he believes, but it's there, and it's important, and we have to discuss things like what makes the reindeer fly (magic) and why there are conflicting stories about Santa's life and origins (no one ever sees him for real, so we're all trying to figure out the answers). And I hope that someday he will decide, as I did, that the myth is just as real as the literal story. So no one has to stop believing; you just learn that the truth doesn't have to be literal.