“Is Santa real or do those gifts come from you?”
She was young for this question, we thought — age 5 or 6 — and by mutual unspoken consent, we (her parents) attempted deflection . . .
“Why do you ask? Did someone at school say something?”
“No,” she said. “I just want to know.”
“Are you sure you want us to answer that question directly? I don’t want you to feel disappointed by what you hear.”
And so on.
She burst into tears — this child who typically was so easy-going about most things and rarely cried except at the prospect of needle injections.
And through her tears, she insisted, “I just want you to tell me the truth!”
So we did — with, as it turned out, absolutely no regrets.
I had never been fully invested in the Santa myth, but it was a fun and harmless sort of childhood “magic” that I happily perpetuated. I love surprises (giving and receiving them), and I love gift-giving, and Santa was a playful aspect of parenting.
I didn’t anticipate what kind of magic would emerge once she was more fully included in the “truth” of the holiday gift-giving “magic” instead of being merely its recipient. Our truthful revelation didn’t ruin that magic. She became part of it . . . and is still, to this day. We share the joy of knowing and protecting someone else’s surprise, of selecting a just-right treat for a loved one, of sustaining now-beloved family traditions.
The truth didn’t destroy the magic. It made it even better.
May you, too, uncover magical truths in your life.
I love you,