Please Don't Stop Believin' In Santa - Not Yet

Filed under: Opinions

A couple of weeks ago, my husband told me he thought our son was starting to question the existence of Santa Claus. I didn't believe him. My boy is a 9-year-old who loves the magic of Christmas, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy ... there was just no way.

"Jack asked me a few questions about Santa, and said something about how he's not sure if Rudolph is real," my husband said. "I think this is it. I think he's starting to figure it out for himself."

I blew it off. I knew we were getting close to non-believer status, but I was sure there was still time.

Jack is the oldest kid in his third grade class, and I have been fully, painfully aware that this would likely be his last Christmas believing in Santa. I've tried to make peace with the idea that this would be the last one, and have spent these few weeks holding on to the final moments of pure innocence with my beautiful boy for all they're worth. Thank goodness I still have this year.

Then, last night, he cornered me in the laundry room.

"Mom, I need to talk to you," he said, with an unusual urgency in his lowered voice. "Is Santa really real? I mean really? I've been thinking about it a lot, and it doesn't make sense."

No. Noooooooooo!!! Not now. It's only a few days until Christmas! How can I stop this? I'm not ready. Not. Ready. This cannot be happening. Think. Think!

I was surprised by how wide and imploring his eyes were. It was almost like he was willing the truth out of me. He already knew in his heart, and he needed me to confirm it. While everything inside me wanted to invent some clever ruse to keep the magic alive, I couldn't get past the look in his eyes.

The moment had come.

Five days before what I thought was my son's last Christmas believing in Santa Claus -- five days! -- we told him the truth. We explained that Santa Claus does exist, only figuratively. He exists in the absolute joy his father and I have had creating the magic of Santa for him, and the joy his grandparents had creating that same magic for me.

We talked about how wonderful it is to do things for each other under the guise of Santa, and how this rite of passage has been passed down through the generations. He cried briefly, but then I saw his chest puff a little as he realized he now knows something that other kids, including his friends and little sister, do not.

"Can I help you be Santa this year? Can I be the one to eat the carrots and cookies on Christmas Eve?" he finally asked.

"Sure buddy," I replied, and off he went, back to doing things that 9-year-olds do.

Late last night, after my son had gone to bed, my husband and I cried and cried. Jack took losing Santa a lot better than we expected. We, on the other hand, did not. We weren't ready to face how much time has already gone by with our monkey boy.

It seems that just when you feel you are getting to know your children, it's already nearly time for them to go. My husband has always said that, in many ways, parenthood is a series of losses. Endings. In nine short years, Jack has gone from infancy to becoming aware enough of the world around him that he no longer believes in Santa. What will the next nine years bring?

Sometimes I think I need my babies more than they need me. This Christmas, I tried to convince myself I had more time than I really do, but then reality got in the way. Jack is growing up. I have to embrace that, encourage it, accept it.

Today, just a few days before Christmas, my son no longer believes in Santa Claus. Wow.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.
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