December 6, 2013 by Kimberly Beauchamp, ND
My kids have been growing up blissfully slowly. They go to a Waldorf school, where the teachers and other parents try to help preserve the wonder of childhood for all of the children there. Their dad and I have allowed them the freedom to imagine a world where gnomes and fairies roam fields and farms and leave secret messages inscribed on the sticks that litter the forest floor.
They believe in the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Jack Frost, and of course, Santa.
I always wondered how long this innocent age would last, and how I’d deal with it when the obvious questions started pouring in.
At first, I’d respond with a comment like, “Yes, that really IS amazing that Santa is able to deliver presents to all of the children in the world in one night,” or the ole standby, “Hmm…”
But last year, two days after Christmas, my older daughter came up to me and said, “You know what I think? I think Santa is able to split himself up into a million pieces so he can be everywhere at the same time.”
She proceeded to draw a picture of what this might look like, which basically amounted to a fat man in a suit with a bazillion lines radiating out from his center.
“That looks about right to me,” I said.
She took a long, hard look at me and then said what I’d been dreading.
“Oh, my God, it’s you.”
Here’s how the rest of the conversation went down:
Lily: It’s you, isn’t it?
Me: Well, you know how I always said that Santa has lots of helpers, like the Santa that comes in to the town dock and asks you what you want for Christmas?
Me: Well, I’m one of his helpers, too. Like one of those lines that you drew. I help Santa get it all done.
Lily: So there is no real Santa?
Me: I’m not saying that. I’m saying that it takes a lot of helpers to make the magic of Christmas happen. A lot of people, all around the world, come together to help create this special day.
Lily: Then he’s not real. It’s just a bunch of adults lying to the children?
Me: You know what, I think you’re old enough to understand something now that you’ve not been able to before. Here’s the thing: Santa is very, very real. There is nothing more real than millions of people around the globe conspiring to spread love and peace.
Lily: But he’s not real, like you can’t touch him.
Me: Have you ever touched God?
Me: And you believe that God is real?
Me: This is exactly the same thing. When you’re younger, you think of things in very literal, concrete ways. It’s hard to explain to a young person that Santa isn’t something that you can see or hear or feel or smell. Since Santa is a spirit, we came up with a way to show him to children, so they’d have a way to understand this really complicated idea.
Lily: So Santa didn’t give us any of the things that you said were from him?
Me: That’s kind of tricky to answer. You know how I can’t stand Miley Cyrus? And how your sister got Hannah Montana wall stickers? Well, I really didn’t want to give her those, but it was what she wanted, and the spirit of Santa worked through me to give her those. Trust me. That wasn’t what I wanted to give her.
Lily: So you do things that you wouldn’t normally do because Santa tells you to?
Me: Well, I wouldn’t do something that I felt really uncomfortable with, but I guess you’d say Santa helps me see beyond what I want for you guys and my own opinions about certain things to what would make you happy.
Lily: I wish I didn’t know this. I wish I could just go back to believing.
Me: Lily, you need to understand that nothing has changed. Santa is just as real today as he was on Christmas. You just have a little “insider” information on him, now. Nothing is more real than love. The Santa in the suit is just love, packaged up for children to be able to hold onto him. Now you know that, you can feel that love any time, not just on Christmas.