Yesterday in church I leaned over to my 7 year (and 7 months) old and mentioned something about Santa and Christmas . . . .you know, the rigamarole we feed our kids this time a year in the hopes that they will learn something about magic and joy and anticipation and innocence.
He looks over his glasses at me in a way that only he (and supercilious college professors) can. "Mom, there's no Santa."
At that moment, I'm backpedaling like crazy. It is church; it is quiet; my baby has grown up. "Who told you sweetie,"
"Mom (again, in THAT tone), I just figured it out. No Tooth Fairy. No Santa. No magic."
And just like that my last little one passed a terrible milestone, without a regret or backward glance. I wanted him to at least rage and cry and question so that we could have a real talk . . . one of the few talks I get right with my kids, the way my dad got it right with me. But, no, he is a practical and logical little fellow and facts are facts.
But, by golly, I needed the speech. So I whispered something to him about the real magic of Christmas being about love and sharing and at this rambling, hastily whispered point I know I am botching the speech and motherhood and all the rest.
He shrugs in response, not noticing the very real tears that are somehow leaking out my eyes, "I know how it works. You and dad just get up in the middle of the night and go shopping. You're Santa."
I smiled, relieved to know that he doesn't quite have everything figured out. I also understood in that moment one reason why people have big families--when one loses some measure of innocence and delight, there is always another coming along behind who will see the world with fresh eyes. When it is the baby . . . there is no one. And when your family is small, there are a lot of long, child-free years before the grandchildren come with their delight and faith and wonder.
I've read arguments against teaching Santa. I like some of those arguments and I can understand why some families choose these more factual and realistic approach to Christmas. But I'm like my little boy: practical and logical to a fault. Once a year I need to believe in a little bit of magic. I hope he understands that too when he has littlies of his own.
Having been outed, I feel like Christmas has certainly lost something special. I have a beautiful new home this year, turned out for Christmas in a way that has defied all my expectations and makes me so happy, but something will be missing too.