I have scaled back the Santa talk in recent years. It has done no good. My 3-year-old is the most adamant believer of them all. At our church Christmas breakfast he sat on Santa’s lap three times. He wants to know all about Rudolph, where he sleeps, what he eats, and what he’s doing at this exact moment as he waits for Christmas Eve to arrive.
In the midst of this, I have to give the Scrooge in me a little talking to. My children know the true meaning of Christmas. We have five graven images of Santa in our house, but we also have nine nativities. And as much as my kids love the gifts they get on Christmas morning (and I’m not kidding myself here — they love getting those presents), they also giggle at the anticipation of making and giving presents. They love the cookies and the music and the lights and all the things that to a child make Christmas such a beloved time of year.
When I was 5 we lived in Buffalo, N.Y., which seemed just a skip away from the North Pole. On Christmas Eve I climbed into my bunk bed and heard, right over my head, the prancing and pawing of eight tiny reindeer.
As a mother myself, I suppose I perpetuate the Santa myth because in my heart I still believe. I see wonder all around me, and it does not overshadow that brightest star in the sky, the one that foretold of the Christ child. It is in that spirit that we fill stockings, set out cookies and milk and place brightly wrapped parcels under the tree. I may not do it with the zeal and precision of earlier years, but I still want my kids to believe in Christmas magic, even if it doesn’t come in a bright red suit.
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