Mama, is there really a Santa Claus?
Me: Well, ummm… the spirit of Christmas is about the ….
(6 year old) Larry: Stop with all that talky part and just say yes or no.
Me: St. Nicholas was a real-
Larry: YOU KNOW WHAT I AM ASKING YOU! Is Santa a real guy who comes down the chimney or not??!!! I want the TRUTH, lady!
Me (aka ‘Lady??!!’): Are you sure you are ready for the truth on this one, honey?
Meanwhile— With diplomacy, let’s just say I was enjoying a nice hot tub and quiet reading moment (Outlander Series, page 9,000) when she burst into the bathroom and trapped me with this question. I couldn’t even reach my phone to desperate-text my husband, Jon.
And, just sayin’: I had NO IDEA before that fated moment that she believed in Santa, WHAT WITH HER BEING JEWISH AND ALL!!! I would have thought this might have come up in Hebrew School? Apparently not.
Remind me to join the Curriculum Committee.
Me: Let’s just get one thing straight, Missy, I just spent the whole day with you, and you waited until I was ummmm… indisposed [sic] and without back up of any kind, to ask me this really important question. Was that your plan?
Larry: Pretty much.
Someone’s been watching a little too much Naked and Afraid.
Larry: I am ready, so tell me the truth. (*see her giant Precious Moment’s eyes start to fill up)…
Me: No, honey. Santa is not a real man.
Larry: But who gave me all those presents every year?
Me: You mean the ones on Hanukkah that said “Happy Hanukkah, Love, mom and dad?”
Larry: No, the ones under the tree daddy puts up. Someone signed them “Love, Santa.” Is that ‘someone’ daddy? Does HE buy all those gifts all by himself?
Now I am feeling a little ugly green monster rise to the surface of my uh- birthday suit… Not for nothing, but I am a substantial part of the Hanukkah and Christmas shopping process, and I am starting to feel a little defensive, like somehow this is going to turn into one of those “Daddy ‘Popeye’ Fabulous, Mommy ‘Olive Oil’ Mediocre” moments. I take a deep breath and remind myself that this is not about me. Really. Except for the fact that I am the one trapped like a raccoon in my own bathtub.
I was afraid this would happen.
It’s one of the hot spots of a religiously blended family. We agreed to raise her Jewish, and she attends Hebrew School, but identifies as “Half Jewish and Half *her last name.” Pretty danged cute. And true. She is a child of the whole family, part and parcel of all of us, and distinctly her own soul for the largest of those parts.
We celebrate Hanukkah, and my husband (who is not Jewish) kindly holds off on bringing in the Christmas tree to allow for a little latkes and Hanukkah limelight before the over-powering glitz and glam of Christmas invariably over-shadow the less commercialized eight days and nights. My Christian friends wish Christmas weren’t so glitz and glam too, and work hard to keep the real message at the center of their celebrations, just like we do.
I often wonder how different we really are at the heart of it all—I think we mostly want the same things for our children. We want them to grow up to be kind, responsible and happy people, who do good because they ARE good. We want them to feel an innate responsibility to bring light to their own lives, and to others- to illuminate the world around them.
As members of ‘human-kind,’ we want them to be both.
And, we want them to know that the magic that can come from something bigger than themselves- bigger than all of us- is theirs to create, out of love, and effort and the simple, but profound desire to bring joy to other people simply because they can.
How have you handled ‘Santa’ in your home?
Here’s what some of my friends said:
Darcy: I opted out of the Santa conversation by not starting it. She knew about the Santa other mommies and daddies pretended to be- I told her that was a game that some mommies and daddies played with their kids. She never seemed interested in playing it too.
Col: Santa, leprechuans, fairies…. life is more fun and magical when we make room for myths. A child at heart forever, I will always believe.
Trish: I never really had a talk with my son about it – just went with the flow and let him believe. A little magic isn’t too much to ask.
Catherine: Just don’t mix up the wrapping paper (family’s and Santa’s) or you will blow it all!
BJ: We never, ever pushed the Santa myth. It didn’t take too many Star Trek episodes about Warp Drive, Light Speed and the number of people in the world for him to postulate that the whole Santa thing seemed pretty improbable.
Ellen: My oldest “caught me in the act”, then she wanted “in” for her two younger sisters. Therefore, she was an elf every year. She loved it and kept the dream alive for them for years after.
How about you?
I love to hear your stories so please join in on the conversation! @CoreyJamisonLLC
This blog was originally published by the Times Union and can be accessed here.