This is the year it finally happened. I’ve been dreading it for a while now. I even thought it was over a year and a half ago, but that particular incident seems to have been forgotten.
This year, though, Vicki and her friends held a conference. They sat around their table at school and discussed Santa Claus. Was he real? Was he just their parents? Should they still believe in something that seemed so impossible?
When she came to me and demanded, “Tell me the truth”, I knew the game was over.
She’s 9 years old and in the 4th grade. She’s been asking about the Tooth Fairy for a while. I should have seen it coming. We’ve even had THE TALK with her, so it's not like I'm not aware that she's growing up.
But I wasn’t ready for this one!
After a day and a half of neither admitting nor denying anything, I finally worked up the nerve to fill her in. I told her the story of the little girl named Virginia O'Hanlon who wrote to a newspaper with the very same question. Over the course of the conversation (the first response to which was an exultant, "I KNEW it!!!" Sigh.) a lot of her questions were answered (for example, “Why does Target advertise stuff as a ‘great stocking stuffer’? Does Santa really shop at Target?”) and we had a really good mother-oldest daughter conversation.
She’s concluded that while she doesn’t believe in Santa as an actual person anymore, she still wants to believe in him as an idea, which I encourage. I pointed out that we don’t believe in the wizarding world of Harry Potter as a real world that co-exists with ours, but we still believe in the magic of the idea. Santa’s the same.
The most important part of our conversation centered around a comment she made when I told her Santa was the spirit of Christmas. She said, “But I thought Jesus was the spirit of Christmas.” I explained that Jesus is the Reason for Christmas – it’s a celebration of His birth and without Him there would be no need for Christmas. The spirit of Christmas is giving, and Santa is a representation and personification of that. The Savior gave us the Ultimate Gift, and when we give to others, it’s a way of remembering Him.
In the words of newspaper reporter Francis Pharcellus Church, who wrote the reply to Virginia in 1897, “The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see....Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.”
I'm relieved that Vicki will always believe in Santa Claus, even if she knows now who really leaves the presents. At the end of the tooth fairy post I linked to above, I wrote, "I think Vicki will love being in on all the secrets, whenever that time comes, just as much as she loves believing right now." This appears to be true.
Additionally, I do have to say: I still believe in Santa Claus!