When I was a little girl, I knew one thing for certain: Dad would be home for Christmas. If he wasn’t, if he missed a Christmas, I don’t remember. See, Dad was in the Special Forces, and he was gone more than he was home. We grew up as a military family, and that was the life we knew. My mom maintained the household, she held us all together; she made sure that our lives weren’t disrupted when Dad went away on a mission.
Only once in our lives did I ever truly worry about Dad missing Christmas. We, as a family, prepared for Dad’s potential deployment during Operation Desert Storm, knowing that Dad may not make it back for Christmas–or any other Christmas to come. That was a hard concept for me, as child, to overcome. Luckily, Dad was not deployed.
In our small family, wherever we were stationed, Christmas meant togetherness. It meant Mom cranking up the Christmas tunes, decorating every inch of our home with festivity, brewing large crockpots full of spiced apple cider, and telling us the elves had snuck in to “rearrange” the Christmas ornaments the night after the tree was put up. It meant writing letters to Santa, reading Christmas stories, learning the history of Kris Kringle, and focusing on Jesus’s birth and the blessings of God.
One year, when Dad came home from a trip–he said he was stationed at the North Pole–he brought with him pictures, letters, and books from Santa’s Workshop. I brought them to my skeptical third grade class for Show and Tell. No matter what my friends believed, I believed. Santa was real, and I had the proof from my dad, who had traveled to the North Pole, and had taken visual proof.
That was enough for me.
That year, knowing his daughters’ beliefs were waning, Dad climbed onto the roof with jingle bells. He later said it was to make us go to bed, but I think it was more to reaffirm our belief, so that he could continue to believe in the magic, as well.
I didn’t understand this concept until later in life. I was around eighteen years-old when I made my first off-handed comment about Dad being Santa Claus. The look on his face, the hurt in his eyes, spoke volumes. He asked me to never make that statement again, and I never did. If Dad wanted to maintain the belief in Santa, that was the way it would be done. Therefore, until all of his girls grew up and had kids of their own, our house maintained the magic of Santa Claus every Christmas. We fell asleep, the presents mysteriously arrived on our respective couches and chairs, the cookies disappeared, and Christmas morning was a beautiful experience of familial love.
Magic, and the understanding of the wonder of the season, is the most important aspect of Christmas. It took me having my own child, and doing the very first Santa Claus Christmas to fully understand why my father felt the way he did when I casually debunked Santa. Santa is sitting in the middle of the floor on midnight, calling my Dad and Brother-in-Law over in order to jerry-rig together a tent with a missing piece. Santa is writing a note to your child through the eyes of another, infusing it with love and hope. Santa is going to sleep, more excited to see the look on your child’s face on Christmas morning than excited at the possibility of receiving a gift yourself. Santa is baking cookies with your children, writing a letter of wish-filled dreams, and seeing the joyous glee on the face of a tiny human who walks into the living room on Christmas morning.
Santa is the altruistic spirit that comes during this time of year.
That said, stop taking away my Santa.
My tiny human, my precious Tiny Tot, told me yesterday that a little girl in his class told him Santa doesn’t exist. This coming during my second year to not have Tiny Tot over Christmas. Seeing as the child is five, Tiny attends a Christian-based preschool, and all older children are told to toe the line with their siblings, this information clearly came from a parent. I’ve asked around, just to see if I’m wrong, but the consensus is that at five years-old, children should still be fostering the Christmas spirit.
So, definitively, I’m concluding a parent is the reason my child told me, with hurt in his eyes, that Santa wasn’t real. Which is fine. If you want your children to know that Santa is fake, Jesus is real, and only you bring gifts, fine. If you need your kids to know you’re the only gift-giver, fine. If you want your children to base their faith on Jesus, and Jesus alone, fine.
But please, please keep that crap at home.
I’m Christian. Christmas is my favorite time of year. I teach my child about Jesus’s birth, and God’s love for mankind. I also foster the Christmas spirit, take him to visit Santa, write out lists, leave notes from Santa, and take bites out of the cookies. I send friends Christmas cookies, mail out Christmas letters, excitedly tell people, “Merry Christmas!,” and spend more money on wrapping presents for family than I do on the gifts themselves–sometimes.
When we stop in our busy lives to show loving support for those we hold dear, that is the magic of Christmas. That is Santa Claus, and we are an integral part of that belief. We are the magic of Santa, we are the magic in the season–so stop taking that away. Stop telling your children that Santa is a mythical, jolly, fat fellow, and start teaching them the altruism that the spirit of Santa encompasses.
Now, I can undo the damage this little girl’s parents have done to my son–and take away the doubt. But my child was not the only child affected yesterday. My child is not the only tiny human that went home and said, “I was told Santa doesn’t exist today,” to their parents. I am just one of twenty some-odd parents who has to fix the damage done by the carelessness of another child’s parental decision.
I get it; you don’t believe. God is more important. He is–unequivocally. I am not negating that, at all. But what is also important is my right to Christmas, and the magic that encompasses this season.