Last night I was watching Polar Express with the kids and in the middle of the movie MM asked me earnestly if Santa Claus was real and in my mind I was a nervous wreck because 1) I’m not ready for the magic to be over and 2) in my mind MM still looks like this:
But also, his sister was sitting right next to me and at six years old she is still very much in the Santa Claus xoxoxoxox wheelhouse. Even if I wanted to have a frank discussion about Santa with my nine year old, I didn’t want to do it in front of her:
I thought fast and said simply that I didn’t know and what did he think? He seemed momentarily surprised at my lack of certainty – of course the years of me babbling about emailing Santa and us watching those dumb video letters from Santa probably didn’t help. He probably thought we were BFFs on speed dial, you know? But I told him that believing in Santa Claus is a lot like believing in God – it’s a personal leap of faith that only you can make and that there probably won’t ever be any absolute proof to support that faith and that’s okay.
BB earnestly informed us that she definitely believes in Santa and he’s the best and there is no debate to be had. The end. MM remained quietly on the fence. He told me that his classmate said she’d seen her mother put out all the presents at Christmas one year, to which I replied, “Did she count them?” There will always be reasons to doubt.
The thing is, I realized as we were talking that it’s really not important if Santa is real or not – in the grand scheme of things. And it doesn’t matter if he believes or not, although on some level I hope he does because I think that kind of magic is a powerful part of childhood and every time you lose a little bit of that magic, the world becomes far less interesting.
But either way, the important thing I wanted him to know is this: It’s about choosing whether or not you want to believe in something you can’t see, whether that be a religious belief, Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, magic spells, psychic powers or anything really. You can base that belief on fact if you want to or you can just trust your gut or be open to the possibilities of the universe. And regardless of what you decide, you need to be respectful of other people’s beliefs and not go out of your way to crush them if you disagree. Tread carefully around people’s dreams because they are fragile and beautiful things.