|Images from Christmas 2014|
“Mom, I know you and dad are Santa, and you’re the one who does the elf,” said my 7 (almost 8) year old getting off the bus one day last week. My heart shattered into a million pieces. For a moment, I panicked and wanted to lie, to hold on tight to the magic and not let the reality of growing up snatch that thread of innocence. I wanted it for me. But for him? Isn’t discovering the card up the sleeve all part of feeling a little more grown up – whether I’m ready for it or not?
In a casual conversation later, I asked him what he wanted to believe. I never gave a straight answer. I said that Santa is about magic and that it’s ok to hang onto that magic as long as he wants. It doesn’t matter how the presents get there or whether the elf flies to the North Pole every night. What matters is how it makes us feel to believe. Conspiratorially I told him he doesn’t have to tell his friends what he believes or doesn’t believe. At home, we can experience the magic together. I did ask him to discuss it with me and not with his brother for whom Santa is as real as you and me. “Let’s let everyone keep experiencing the magic in their own way,” I suggested.
I know he took away the message that Santa’s not real and that Daddy and I make it all happen (stupid big boy on the bus!). And that’s ok – it’s all part growing up and becoming his own person which is ultimately our goal as parents.
But this morning. . . This morning magic happened.
The tree is up and lights are on, but we are waiting til we can all be home together to get it decorated. When the tree goes up, the Elf comes out. I tucked Aza into the tree’s branches yesterday morning, expecting the kids to find him right away.
It was on our way out the door this morning that Ray spotted him.
“THE ELF!” he shouted. “He’s here! He’s here!”
Gone was the doubt. Forgotten was any care over who, where or why. We walked out into the crisp morning. Ray took a deep breath and said “Smell that mom? It’s Christmas. You can smell candy canes in the air.”
Grow up, my boy. Grow into your own person. Discover your world and develop your-self. But not too fast. Keep the magic for as long as you can. And when you lose it for a little while (as we all do), remember – it will come back. It will come back with a vengeance. It will come back with such beauty it burns your eyes and makes your heart spasm. Welcome it back and remember the smell of candy canes on the breath of a crisp December morning.
A Merry, Magical Christmas to you!