Last year was the end of Santa. I thought it would be nice not competing with the red robed figure. I remember so many years where Cody would say, “I know you don’t have a lot Mom, so I will just ask Santa.” Never knowing that Mom & Santa were a combined being working on the same budget.
I never told him there was a Santa Claus when he was little. I remember how it destroyed my youngest brother Josh when he found out he wasn’t real. My Mother never told the four of us that came before my baby brother that Santa was real, we actually were told about how Christmas was a Pagan holiday that was covered up by the Christian faith to combine the two together so as to take away their ritereplacing it significantly with the birth of Jesus. Which obviously didn’t happen in December and was historically sometime around September. Anyways… we celebrated by Tradition not by Faith or the Mysticism of Santa. However, my brother Josh believed in Santa and my Mom lost her edge with her baby and brought Santa to life through him. We, being the wonderful brothers and sisters we were, told him how Santa was absolutely not real and he cried for days. It broke his heart. Needless to say I didn’t want that to happen to my son so I just never told him Santa was real, I also couldn’t ever lie to him about anything so I simply explained that St. Nick was an actual person and the “magic of Christmas” and “Santa Claus” were the collected essence of billions of people believing in the good of man. Something to that extent, regardless he figured out Santa from school and combined with my idea of the “magic of Christmas” he made Santa alive in his heart. So Santa began visiting our house each year even though I explained to him multiple times how Santa wasn’t an actual being but the spirit of giving and thankfulness along with the historical attributes of actual men across the world that he derived from. He didn’t care, a fat man in a red suit was going to give him presents on Christmas.
I thought this would just die off eventually but when he was 9 years old it was Christmas Eve and he wouldn’t go to bed. I’m very good at sneaking around and not making a sound, something I practiced as a child and perfected, so when I said I was going to bed I feigned sleep and waited. He passed out by the T.V. that night and the moment I knew he was out I rushed all the already wrapped and bowed gifts to the tree, grabbed his stocking and filled it up all within minutes. Then rushed back to bed. He of course wakes up moments (apparently) after I’m finished and didn’t realize he fell asleep at all so in his mind he seriously believed they magically appeared. This was his absolute that Santa Claus was in fact real and what he would hang on to for years.
Santa was getting to be a serious pest though. Kids believe they can ask Santa for anything and then it just arrives and parents having difficult years have to compete with this manufactured idea. It didn’t matter if you explained to your child that it was difficult times that year across the world and Santa could only do so much so he should only ask for one thing he really wanted from Santa. He was Santa! He was magical, he’ll just POOF it into being. /sigh So a few years ago during Easter my son realized the Easter Bunny wasn’t real (he’s believed in things for a long time) this after realizing the Tooth Fairy wasn’t real because he had a tooth and didn’t tell me and no money arrived. He never said he knew it wasn’t real he just continued to reap the benefits of teeth swapping. He’s slick like that. So he figured out the Easter Bunny by asking me intelligent questions to which I answered, “Adults don’t get gifts from Santa or the Easter Bunny, etc. We don’t get it because we get to a point where we question and we want to know the SECRET. You forfeit these things for the answer.” So he wasn’t ready to give up his magical gifts until the following year when he realized what I meant. By getting the answer to the question, the SECRET revealed that these things were not real you no longer get things from the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy or Santa. The illusion is unmasked. He asked me point blank and I told him, I never lie to my son. He went off into his room sad for a long time and I went in and I apologized and explained I never lied but he was so happy it was hard to take away from him. He said he wasn’t sad that Santa wasn’t real just that he never appreciated me all those years for all I had given him. That made me cry. Last year was the first year without Santa for him, but we made sure it was the best Christmas he’d ever gotten. He got his Xbox 360 Elite he wanted for so long, the games he’d been dreaming he’d have amongst many other things. He cried because he thought since Santa was no longer there he’d never have a chance to have special things he didn’t think were affordable, but here Mom & Step-Dad still pulled off Christmas Magic.
So it’s been a year since Santa has been away for him. We still do Santa for my 2 year old Judah. I decided kids do need things to believe in, we can’t take away everything special but I’ll be sure to explain in my way how it’s the idea of Santa and not a real guy in a suit for all the good it’ll do him. We still put out cookies and carrots for the reindeer on Christmas Eve and this year instead of asking Santa for everything Cody instead has told me all the things he wants with gusto. And what I thought would be the greatest thing in the world, finally being recognized, finally FINALLY being able to say “We can only do SO much.” And it being understood and okay’d and there be no disappointment………… has dwindled to a certain melancholy feeling: Loss. It didn’t feel so great to be so normal, to not be this magical figure secretly stashing things in stockings for him. It didn’t feel so great to have the recognition a parent feels they deserve for all their hard work, it just felt selfish and finally being able to say, “we can only do so much” made me feel a little less magic. Where for every Christmas I was capable of somehow and in some way making dreams come true, now I’ve replaced them with just the cold reality of practical financial figures.
My 2 year old isn’t to the point where he even cares about Christmas or gifts. They’re not really in his sight. He never asks for anything and won’t even open up his own presents. He just doesn’t care for much other than the lights are pretty and he loves the happy essence of things around him, family/celebration. So I can’t turn to him to regain that feeling I lost. This year I’m just absent of a great thing that my eldest brought to life when he was so little. How he filled our whole world with this mystical being that would somehow pull toys out of his hat (or bag). The sparkle in his eyes when he woke up to find everything tucked under the tree in different handwriting (from Santa) and his stocking overflowing with candy when he swears he never slept a wink. How I never realized (in my feeling of annoyance at this character) I loved being Santa. I loved knowing that no matter what every year I would somehow make that dream come true….. and now even though I can give my son what he wants it’s no longer dreams being fulfilled or wishes granted, it’s just things. Just things.
The feeling is lost to me this Christmas. I’ve shopped deals and got everyone things they’ve wanted, some things they didn’t know they wanted. I’ve decorated and planned the meal. I’ve donated for others Christmases and played the songs, hung the stockings and put Frosty the Snowman classic on T.V. But it’s not the same without Santa around, really around beaming out of a child’s heart that somehow swells a house and home. I miss him this year, even though he’s cost me a fortune.
I hold tightly to the memory of the last Christmas Cody believed. My husband went out into the cold snow and laid out the carrots on the porch for the reindeer. It’s something we’d never done so Cody was awfully excited about it. We set out the cookies and milk on the table, him making them just right with so many because Santa apparently loved his cookies a LOT. And I tucked him in, even though he was too old to be tucked in and too old to believe in Santa. I said, “Goodnight, Sweetdreams, I love you.” And when he fell asleep I eagerly jumped on the cookies forcing my husband to have to eat the carrots. We laughed that night. He making fake hoof prints outside and me trying to fake a giant bite with a beard on a cookie; my stomach aching so bad from the amount of them but you have to make crumbs. We laid down on the couch and watched ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and I hardly slept a wink for waiting until morning. How little I knew that it would be the last magical Christmas for some time.
I realize that it’s not children that lose out when finally given the answer to the SECRET, it’s the parents. We lose some magical super power inside of ourselves every time our children grow too old to believe in magical beings. In so many ways it feels like they grow to old to believe in us and our ability to make the impossible happen, to make wishes come true and to give them some overwhelming bursting belief in Hope. We lose that too. We lose it over and over and over until there are no more children, grandchildren or great grandchildren to believe in us.
I guess all I’m saying is that sometimes appreciation isn’t worth it. You have to realize that even though your children may not put two and two together, that even though you are Santa’s helper you are NOT Santa in their eyes, you know. It costs a lot of money to be a magical creature what with the teeth replacements and the appearing out of thin air Christmas toys and the decorated hidden eggs with the crazy peep baskets and so on…. but what is money to the shimmer shine, the dancing smiles and the longing anticipation in a child’s heart when they come bursting into the room with wide eyes and out of breath exclaiming in boisterous excitement, “IT’S CHRISTMAS! HE CAME HE CAME HE CAME! MOM MOM MOM HE CAME!” And he did, and you did it because your Mom, your Dad, your Gramma and Grampa……… your Santa. Hold tightly, for as long as possible, to the magic within you. One day it won’t be there and you’ll be sitting here with a perfect tree in a perfect house with a perfect family like I am missing the magic in me.