My kids are all very different. My son who is seven is a complete realist. If he can’t see, taste, or touch something, it’s not real (with the exception of God who gets a free pass for some reason!). He’s a complete skeptic. He had worked out the flaws in the “Santa myth” as he likes to call it when he was only four. He’s smart and analytical and no attempts to keep the magic alive with him were successful. Santa just wasn’t practical.
Our daughter Arabelle is a completely different story. She’s five and she is a dreamer. She believes that her toys come alive when no one is looking and she believes that there are fairies in her backyard despite the fact that no one has seen them. As she so adamantly tells her brother “just because you haven’t seen fairies doesn’t mean that they’re not real!” She believes in the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny and she is a most firm believer in Santa.
This Christmas season has been a two month long debate in our household. Gavin has presented all the practical reasons why Santa cannot be real while Arabelle has unswervingly held her ground insisting that Gavin would see on Christmas morning. Santa is too real! This drives the realist Gavin absolutely nuts, but there is no convincing my little dreamer!
Arabelle decided that a good way to convince Gavin that Santa was real was to write him a letter and have him send a letter back. All on her own, Arabelle, who is only five mind you, starts the laborious process for a little one just beginning to write, of writing a letter to Santa. Every once in a while I would get the call from across the room of “Mom, how do you spell ____” fill in the blank. I would respond and she would keep writing. She got done, put it in the envelope, asked me Santa’s address and with complete confidence she walked it to the mail box and put the flag up.
Of course, Santa could not possibly let her down! My husband Aaron and I love encouraging the magic. We tried with Gavin but failed miserably, but we weren’t going to give up for our girls. We decided to pull out all the stops and we were going to do our part of helping the magic of Santa continue for our girls for as long as we can.
Aaron decided that he would be Santa. He thought about it long and hard. He knew that Gavin would recognize his handwriting so he pulled out my old calligraphy kit, found some of the fancy stationary I had bought when we were inFlorence and started writing the magic letter.
Only half of the fun for us was keeping the magic alive for Arabelle. The other half of the fun was stumping Gavin who was so very sure of himself! He had already told Belle that if she got a letter, it would be from us or maybe the postman would write it, but that Santa wasn’t real so it simply could not be from him. We took extra effort to try to make it hard for him.
Yesterday was the big day and the letter magically appeared in the mailbox. We didn’t put an address or a stamp on the envelope because the mailman won’t deliver a letter without either of those things so the letter so Gavin’s theory that the mailman did it simply wouldn’t fly. The handwriting was totally unrecognizeable so he wouldn’t think that Aaron or I had done it. We’d done our homework and we figured that Gavin would be really and truly stumped.
I casusally asked Arabelle to go check the mail. We watched her walk to the mailbox. We watched her open the mailbox and pull out the letter. We watched her tip her head to the side and stare at the letter, and then we saw one of the most precious things we had ever seen. The moment of realization. She jumped up in the air, arms waving and squealed, “Santa! I got a letter from Santa!” And she came running and laughing with her arms continuing to wave in the air. It was one of the moments when you can look at parenting and say it really is worth it. All the difficulties, frustrations and sacrifices disappear in that moment and it is all so very worth it!
Just as we predicted, Gavin was stumped and spent half the day scratching his head trying to figure it all out. He finally gave up with a shrug and simply said, “I don’t know. But Santa isn’t real.” But Arabelle . . . for her the magic of this Christmas is very much alive and very, very real. She will remember this Christmas, the Christmas that Santa wrote her a letter, long after she has out grown the big, fat man himself. And she will always think of it with a smile and she will know that her mommy and daddy loved her enough to keep the magic alive for just a little bit longer!