Santa is real and I can prove it! This isn’t about setting up security cameras to catch a glimpse. It’s more about convincing curious kids of the magic!
When I was little, I have this distinct memory of sneaking out of my bedroom and quietly peering down the stairs into our family’s living room, absolutely certain I saw Santa by the Christmas tree. I remember telling my parents, convinced that what I shared was true. It was magical and even when I think back to it today, I get butterflies.
While my own children haven’t reported official sightings of everyone’s favorite jolly old elf, they are strong believers in helpers. We see them everywhere.
There was a sighting on the pier at the state park, in the mall during the off-season, and on vacation in various locations. I wonder if older guys with white beards get used to little kids giving them the side eye and generally nervous looks. In fact, when we see one, my little ones sometimes talk without moving their lips. “There he is. It’s Santa. Be good!!” Suddenly they get extremely helpful and polite. Shoot, now that I think this through, I should hire a Santa-esque gentleman to wander through our lives at opportune times!
There have been times when I thought it would be easier without all of the hoopla. There would be no shopping on the sly or hiding things in the attic. There would be no researching Elf on the Shelf rules and ideas. We could skip the line to sit on a lap. I wouldn’t have to save my hours of wrapping until 11 p.m. the night before. Well okay maybe that last one is my fault, but still, it’s part of the tradition in this house. Every time I smell scotch tape I’m reminded.
But here’s the thing. I’m ready for someone in my house to ask for the truth any day now. Last year could have been it. When I was a tween, my mom always said, “If you don’t believe, you don’t get.” I took her at her word and put up a good act. While her policy worked, I don’t want to do that.
I’ve got my spiel ready, based on a friend’s experience. When her son was 11 he asked and seemed ready to handle the truth. Instead of going right for the crushing blow she said this. “Yes, Santa is real. He lives on in all of us and is revealed in a spirit for giving and delight.” She was concerned he’d run straight to his little sisters (just four and two, at the time) and spill the beans, so she continued. “Now that you know, you’re part of the magic too. It’s up to you to carry out the mission of Santa and think of ways to make Christmas good for others. You should start with your sisters, but don’t stop there. Maybe think about buying a gift for someone at a nursing home. See if anyone needs help wrapping presents for children in foster care. It doesn’t really matter what you do, but it is up to you to do something. It’s what Santa wants.”
He took her advice and started talking to his siblings more about St. Nicholas. He listened to their wishes and conveyed them to the appropriate parties. He even did extra chores so he could put together care packages for deployed soldiers. His mom is very proud of him. I am, too.
This story inspired me, even though I’m hoping I still have more time with two believers. This year I’m going to start planting the seed. My kids have so much. I think a lot of parents can relate. We’ve got a playroom filled with toys, most of which rarely get played with. When I’ve asked them what they’re thinking about for Christmas, they didn’t have an answer. That tells me they have just about everything they want. And while they’re young, it’s time they start being exposed to those who do not.
We’ve got an Angel Tree at church where angel ornaments are strung up on the branches indicating boy/girl and an age. All year we’ve collected change in a jar. My plan is to cash those coins in and have my children really think about what they could buy for a little one in need with the money we have to offer. I want to talk to them about how their effort can equal happiness for someone else. I think they’ll get it. And if you have some spare change or cheer this holiday season, I’m hopeful you’ll be thoughtful and generous with it, as well. Be the person who restores the magic for others. It’s all about keeping it real and with caring and compassion, we all can.
May you and your loved ones have a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season and 2014!
This article appears in the December 2013 issue of Parent News. Check it out online here!
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