Holiday Magic – The Will of Children to Believe

Last Christmas it was apparent that our then-9-year-old son still believed in Santa. I wondered if it could still be the case, but he was completely into our usual tradition of leaving cookies and milk for Santa. And at bedtime he once again set up his iPod in the family room – video running – to try to catch Santa coming down the chimney! Now I thought this was cute, but my husband was kind of done with the whole Santa-thing (we call him Scrooge) since, admittedly, pulling off the whole illusion is a lot of work:

  • Keeping the presents hidden until Christmas
  • Segregating the Santa-designated wrapping paper (don’t want to have to explain why we have the same paper and gift bags as Santa!)
  • Getting the presents wrapped surreptitiously, and sneaking them under the tree after kiddo bedtime…while trying to avoid the “candid camera.” Thankfully the battery on his iPod proved not to last that long!

And, of course, there was the time a couple years ago when we first left carrots outside for the reindeer. Since it’s important to show that the reindeer enjoyed these treats (and we all know reindeer are messy eaters!) it was incumbent upon me to gather up the carrots strewn on the back patio and chew up several so that only a few carrot bits would be left behind. But who knew that the carrots would freeze so quickly out back? Pulling them off the frozen stone patio was hard enough…but chewing bits of frozen carrot was not appetizing! Since that year I’ve made sure to have extra carrots on hand to use as replacements for the orange icicles. So, the Santa-thing is a lot of work. But clearly I love it all!

As Elliott approached 10 in the spring I wondered how much longer this Christmas/holiday magic could last. But I didn’t have long to wait for an answer. Easter was my undoing. With a later Spring Break, our family was only getting back home the night of Easter Bunny’s visit. Despite my best intentions, I didn’t manage to do the Easter basket shopping before our vacation. So, while away, I texted a shopping list to our trusty local college student, Emily, part-time nanny and family helper extraordinaire, and told her where in the house to hide the loot. The whole process worked perfectly with Mom Bunny putting together a basket during the wee hours of Easter Sunday morning. That is until Elliott was playing a game on my phone and happened to see my Easter text exchanges with Emily.

The jig was up! I learned what had transpired through a series of very angry but hilarious post-it notes left outside my study where I was doing some work that evening. These included some angry drawings and a terse message:

“Just found out you are the Easter Bunny. I suppose this means Santa and the Toothfairy aren’t real either. You’ve been lying to me my whole life!”

What’s a parent to do?

Well this seemed to call for a good heart-to-heart conversation, so I sat down on his bed and – through tears on both sides – I had to admit that we really had been lying to him all these years. But as I said to Elliott, it didn’t seem like a lie when he was little…and there’s really a whole lot of love behind these particular parent lies when you think about it – what with all that we do to make the magic real for the little ones. Surprisingly, my 10-year old boy agreed with this perspective and seemed comforted to a degree. And then I learned just how strong and enduring is the will of children to believe. “Mom, can we just pretend this never happened?” he asked. “Of course,” I said. So we haven’t discussed it since. And as we get nearer to Christmas Eve, I know I need to have cookies and carrots in stock once again.

About the Author

Audra is an experienced pharmaceutical marketing professional, aspiring writer, and mother of Elliott, a high-spirited twenty-year old. Frequently tired but never bored, she has a strong interest in public health fostered by numerous years implementing global oncology education programs as well as by her twenty-year crazy (wild? amazing?) adventure in parenting. She recently earned a Masters in Public Health to augment her expertise in health policy and health promotion. Audra is a founding member of the PedSafe Team


One Response to “Holiday Magic – The Will of Children to Believe”

  1. Mine are 7 and 4 and are still really into Santa. I didn’t even think about the wrapping paper until now so I’m glad I read this. Luckily my kids haven’t thought of trying to find him. I told them he won’t come if they’re awake because he has to protect his gift giving privacy lol.

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