This weekend was the company Christmas party and we actually managed to attend. (Which, as an aside, was held at the most beautiful house I have ever been in my entire life.) A few of the women I was visiting with were moms of pre-school age children and the topic of Santa came up. We all traded stories of what our parents did to make us believe in Santa, and what we intended to do for our children. I have to say, I got some great ideas- a trail of “magic” reindeer dust of bird seed and glitter, a bucket of carrots and apples for the reindeer, sooty footsteps across the floor; all wonderful examples of the lengths one can go to to give your kids a little bit of magic.
The topic then quickly turned to how we all found out that Santa wasn’t real. For a few, it was a gradual realization but for some of us, it was a traumatic moment in our lives. I can’t remember if I ever told my parents this story, but the day I found out Santa wasn’t real is forever burned in my memory…
I was sitting in class, in FIRST GRADE, when a substitue teacher read us a Christmas story. I don’t remember the details of the particular story, except for the fact that in the last few pages, the child in the story discovers that Santa and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are all just stories. I don’t even remember the ending, because my face immediately flushed bright red and I remember looking around the room while fighting back tears to see if anyone looked as shocked as I felt. No, everyone seemed calm. At recess I didn’t want to play with any of my friends and instead sat on the swing by myself. My friend Kristen finally asked what was wrong and when I confessed I didn’t realize Santa was pretend she reinforced the idea that I was dumb to ever believe it in the first place. It was a demoralizing day, all magic and myth were destroyed for me in one crushing moment.
I’m pretty sure I did not let on to my parents what had happened, reason being that I didn’t think I would get any more presents from “Santa” and “Santa” usually brought the best stuff. To that end, I did everything in my power to reinforce to Eric that Santa was indeed very real, simply because once he figured it out I thought the jig would really be up. And what kid could bear the thought of less presents?
I’ve always thought my parents did a great job of balancing Santa and Jesus at Christmas, and I don’t mean for that to sound trite. It certianly is true for Christians that Jesus is the reason for the season, but the magic of Santa for children is unmistakable. Even if I only enjoyed it for a few short years, that sense of wonderment that Santa had indeed come to our house is one of my best memeories from childhood. It’s definitely over Devan’s head this year, but it won’t be long now before Craig and I start establishing our own families traditions and we are so excited to share with Devan all of the wonders of childhood.