My two children believed in Santa long after any of their friends did. They believed long after reason, intellect, and logic should have dictated otherwise. In a world where we regularly convince our children that the opposite of magic is ‘the real world’, they held fast. Why? Because I made sure they believed.
They grew up in a home where the real world came early and stayed like an unwelcome relative. Long-term debilitating illness, death, and lifelong abuse lived with them each and every day. They left for school never knowing what they would find when they returned home. Dinner was often meager, plain macaroni to eat and water to drink were not unheard of, and that was usually accompanied by anger and intimidation. Good times were not to be trusted; they instilled the fear of what came next. Ours was not a happy home.
But, at the time, my kids didn’t realize that I often wasn’t hungry, so there would be more for them to eat. That whenever possible, treats were purchased on the sly and slipped to them so they could have something every other kid had. That Christmas presents were either purchased through ingenuity (selling things on eBay and using the PayPal payments to buy gifts) or were obtained through the generosity of groups like the Elks Club. But, that isn’t why they believed in Santa for so long.
I won’t go into details here, because this isn’t really about me. Suffice it to say that I used to do something that made it impossible for them not to believe in Santa. Only Santa’s magic could have pulled off this miracle every Christmas morning and they pointed to it as proof to their friends who had stopped believing. Why did I do this? Because my children needed to believe in magic and miracles. They needed to believe that all things are possible. They needed to feel awe and wonder and joy and experience the unexplainable. This is an inherent and important part of childhood and children are robbed of it earlier and earlier in our society.
On top of this, my children asked Santa every year to make me well. I always explained to them that Santa didn’t do that kind of magic but still they asked. Then, I got well. They were 10 and 12, but that didn’t stop them from pointing out that I’d been wrong about Santa.
Believing in Santa is believing in generosity, selflessness, and love. Believing in Santa is believing in curiosity and kindness. My children needed to believe in things larger than themselves and they needed to believe that what they experienced every day was not the only ‘real world’.
My children are grown now but they still remember that feeling of astonishment when they found Santa had been there. They know the truth of how I did it now but that has not diminished what they felt then. I think in some way it has added to the magic. That I would do what I did just for them has proven to them just what is possible. And, I know they will do no less for their children. That alone makes me believe in Santa. Knowing all that, how can you not believe in Santa?