A Mom recalls how she managed the tricky age of 12 when the existence of Santa Claus begins to be challenged
As a parent, I would often strive at Christmas time to recreate the feelings of anticipation and magic that I had felt as a child, for my own daughter.
My husband and I were able to, for many years, maintain her belief of Santa Claus. He and I took it upon ourselves to improve on the illusion from one year to the next, even as she grew older, and wiser to our wiles.
Of course the ritual began when she was a pre-schooler, her letters written in her small, unsteady hand. A single, heavily iced cookie in some seasonal shape left on the kitchen table with a glass of milk, both of which would be gone by morning. Standard Christmas procedure required the leaving of a carrot as well; the reindeer could not be forgotten!
We hid presents in the branches of the sparkling, decorated balsam, so the tree’s spicy oils delicately scented the wrapping. Her eyes shone when she’d discover her gifts hidden among the baubles and glitter.
As she got older however, it became more of a challenge for us to convince her that Santa, an imaginary creation, was more than that. We had to come up with sneakier ideas, more creative scenarios, to keep up appearances.
One year we were able to sneak into her bedroom while she slept, remove the quilt that covered her, to replace it with the desired “Lion King” comforter. She had to be coerced back into her bedroom, her excitement was so great that she’d flown out of bed, completely missing the new blanket she’d been snuggly tucked into.
As luck, or fate, would have it, things took on a life of their own that year.
We had always had to be aware of things that interested her, she rarely, if ever, requested anything specific from “Santa”. Generally she’d just been satisfied with whatever she received.
Christmas Eve that year found us enjoying a meal with my parents, who lived some ways out of town. On the late night drive home, I reminded her that she still hadn’t written her letter to Santa.
She laughed at me and made some comment on how ridiculous it was to be doing that at her “mature” age. Her Dad asked that she indulge us this one last time then, just because, “sometimes you have to believe in something”.
Once home she begrudgingly went up to her room to write, while we laid the table. A beer for Santa, (she had decided some years before that he worked way too hard for JUST milk), and the carrot for the deer. She brought the note down and dropped it on the table, hugged us goodnight and returned to her room.
As we read the note we realized that the only request she’d made was a video game system that was popular at the time. A toy we had sworn we would not buy due to its expense. Yet what she didn’t know was that a week earlier we had changed our minds and had purchased the
system, along with a couple of games. One of the games we’d chosen was also on her list. We awoke to her shrieks of joy, dancing around the living room. Thanking us profusely for getting her exactly what she wanted.
I had to question her, however. “What makes you think we bought this?”
“Well who else could have, Mom?” was her slightly sarcastic reply.
I continued, “Consider this; we got home at almost midnight last night. We had no idea what you wanted until you wrote the letter last night, and even if we wanted to, had no way of going out to buy it. What store is open at that time on Christmas Eve?”
She absorbed that for a moment.
“That’s just messed up, Mom. So, Santa’s real.” She smirked.
“Does it really matter?” I asked.
She smiled a little, ran a finger along the game system.
“No, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes you just have to believe in something.”
Published in Celebrating Christmas PDF Magazine 2012 issue