Two years ago we eked through our last year believing in Santa. Our girls were in 5th grade and had turned 11 that November, and while they doubted Santa’s existence, they weren’t sure. I overheard them talking to each other Christmas week, “Let’s sleep on the couch on Christmas Eve because that way we’ll know.” They didn’t sleep on the couch because I think that subconsciously they didn’t want to know the truth. Our next door neighbor’s daughter helped keep the magic alive that last year. The Christmas before she went to the American Girl store in December and Saige, the doll of the year, was sold out. Yet Santa left Saige for her under the Christmas tree. She told my girls that Santa had to be real because how else would she have received Saige? Of course it never occurred to her or to my two that her mother ordered the doll well before Christmas.
There are many letters on the Internet that answer the “is Santa real?” question in a way that preserves the magic of Christmas. Of course the original “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” letter could never be topped; but last year I found a letter that I loved, adapted it for my daughters, printed it out, and carried two around in a Ziplock bag in my purse the entire month of December. But they never asked. On Christmas Eve I asked if they wanted to make cookies for Santa and put out sugar cubes and carrots for the reindeer as we’ve done every year. They exchanged knowing glances and said “sure” and then added “but please don’t put the photos on Facebook.” At that moment, I knew that they knew the truth. But more importantly, I knew that my sweet daughters did not want to ruin the magic of Christmas for me. They already understood the message that the unopened letters in my purse conveyed:
Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to believe in something they can’t see or touch. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness.*
*From a letter penned by Martha Brockenbrough to her daughter Lucy in 2009.