It was all Jimmy’s fault. It was December 1978, and I was in the second grade. Jimmy spoke with authority, but in second grade he was two years into a twelve-year career of copying my school work, so I wasn’t sure whether he was either knowledgable or trustworthy. I chose to remain unsure about the whole thing.
But then I snooped. I lifted the bedspread and peeked under the guest bed to find a tennis racquet and a Monopoly game. On Christmas morning, I found a tennis racquet and a Monopoly game under the tree. From Santa.
The jig was up. I’d seen it coming, but it was still such a letdown.
I don’t recall discussing it with my parents. I don’t remember telling them that I knew the sad, disappointing truth. Instead, I played along for years. I told myself that it was for my grandparents’ benefit; I didn’t want to ruin their fun by letting on that their only grandchild knew the secret.
In reality, I think it was mostly for me. I loved to believe, and so I sort of did even though I knew better. I still do, at least a little.
I love the whole idea–a dear, jolly man who brings gifts and spreads the Christmas spirit. I love the elves and the reindeer. I love Twas the Night Before Christmas. I love cookies and milk left out on Christmas Eve. I love full stockings. I love the anticipation. I love the excitement.
I now have children on the cusp of disbelief. Like I was, they may soon be educated by their friends. Each of the last few years, my husband and I have thought it was the last “real Christmas”–the last one where both kids still believe.
My eldest is a smart, curious child, full of questions and critical thinking. I can’t believe we’ve gotten this far. He’s also a creative, imaginative child who wants to believe in magic and fantasy, and that’s why I think we have. I’m sure there’s a part of him that doubts, but most of him wants to believe. Please, let us have one more Christmas of the anticipation, the excitement, the milk and cookies.
He’s asked a few questions. I always answer that “I believe,” and I don’t think that’s a lie. A little part of me still does. Santa is the joy, the feeling of love, the spirit of giving, the special sparkle on the month of December. I’m grateful we’ve had so many “real Christmases,” and I hope that once the kids know the secret, we can continue to believe together. To expect that magical and wondrous things can happen. That reindeer can fly. That a fat man in a red suit will fly around the world, delivering gifts to children everywhere. That, once a year, everyone is blessed with abundance and joy.
Yes, I believe.
Bio: Cynthia is a recovering lawyer, mom, aspiring photographer, book lover, organization freak, and DIYer. She blogs about parenting, photography, and all the other flotsam in her mind at Flotsam of the Mind