I'm pretty sure this will be our last year for Santa. My daughter is a thinker and she can only hold her pragmatic reasoning at bay for so long. I get the sense this year that she is avoiding the obvious questions, the "holes" in the story. On more than one occasion, she has started to question one thing or another, but changed the subject herself rather than pursue the line of reasoning past a certain point. In her heart of hearts, I believe she already suspects
but is not ready to bring herself to the truth. I'm relieved she has given herself this one, last magical year to believe.
To our credit, we have taken full advantage of all the seasonal delights. We have listened to Christmas carols every morning and afternoon on the drive to and from school. We have driven around looking at the holiday displays in our neighbors yards. We have done the Festival of Lights and the Nutcracker, eaten too many candy canes and torn open the paper doors of our advent calendars each morning. We have watched countless Christmas specials and movies and drank eggnog dusted with cinnamon from our Christmas patterned china mugs. It has been a wonderful season and she has enjoyed every moment.
This year I have taken extra care to also talk about the real spirit of Christmas. I've told her about Mary and Baby Jesus. She knows about the Star of Bethlehem and the meaning behind all those Nativity scenes where a bed of empty straw awaits a child king on Christmas eve. While I haven't the foundation to educate her in all the church's mysteries, she understands that this is a time of celebration in Mommy's church, that something wonderful began the night the Savior was born in that humble place. In a marriage of mixed faiths, my husband and I respectfully keep the fundamentals simple for her, finding the common ground between the religions we were both raised with. We instill in her the belief in one God and the understanding that there are many paths to him, many ways to celebrate our Faith.
My daughter also understands that Christmas is a time of family, of charity and giving. She has taken notice of those people asking for money or work, holding signs and standing in the cold as we drive past. She has taken special pride in putting her coins into the red buckets of the Salvation Army bell ringers outside the stores. I believe she knows what Charity means and why it is particularly important this time of year.
Mostly, I believe she has a good understanding of what really makes Christmas magic, and knows its much more than the man in the red suit and presents under the tree. My heart feels full and certain with the knowledge that she will let Santa go when she's ready and when she does, she will have enough magic and wonder left inside her to believe in things even more magical and special.