Saturday, December 24, 2011

i believe in father christmas

My almost eight year-old has been asking me all month long about Santa. She was bugged that some of the kids at school were trying to convince her that he doesn't exist. A lot of her friends still believe, but she has asked me if I do, too. I answered unhesitatingly in the affirmative. And I'm not lying. That doesn't mean that I believe that a jolly man in a red suit will be coming down our non-existent chimney tonight. But I do believe that Santa, something magical, does exist in the world, most definitely in my daughter's world. When kids grow up and become parents they become Santa. They make magic for their kids. They pass the baton, so that their children can share in that same feeling that they remember from their childhood — a mixture of hope, anticipation, faith and disbelief — could it really be? And then the presents are there in the morning — magic!

I don't blame the playground kids. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs or disbeliefs. I first covered this topic two Xmas eves ago and still feel exactly the same way:
The whole world is magical to kids. They want to believe in Santa, Rudolph, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc. Kids don't live in a bubble. At five my daughter and her friends are already deeply discussing whether Santa, etc. exists. Some are trying to convince her otherwise, like kids tried back in 1897 to Virginia O'Hanlon. I'm in the "He's real" camp until she shows signs of not wanting to believe anymore. Kids can be cruel and just plain silly, but the "There is no Santa" schoolyard discussions seem to me less an attempt to blow a hole in the magic bubble, but an attempt to appear smarter, more knowledgeable of the oh-so-attractive grown-up world. Kids, if you only had the merest glimpse of the mundanity of many aspects of what it is to be "grown-up," you'd relax and settle back and bask in fantasies like Santa as long as possible.

I also think it is worth reprinting some words of Santa wisdom from one of my favorite authors, Alexander McCall Smith (originally printed in Parade):
Myths help us to get by. The day they all die and we tell our children exactly how things are, the world will be a poorer, less enchanted place. So don’t be ashamed to clap your hands at Peter Pan or act as if Santa exists. He stands for kindness and generosity, and those things are alive and will continue to be alive—as long as we believe in them.
I have some cookies to decorate for Santa — Merry Christmas!
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