December 17th, 2010

Losing Santa

Linda Kennard

I was nine, living with my mom and grandparents while Dad was in Vietnam, when I lost my starry-eyed belief in Santa Claus. The world was white, the sky was blue, and I was cold and mad, standing outside my glass school doors. A classmate of mine stood on the inside, warm and sneering. I swung open the door and shouted, “Yes he is real!” She waited a moment, stuck out her head, and said with infuriating calm, “No, he isn’t.” And on it went. I didn’t tell my mom, grandparents or even my sisters what I learned that day; I didn’t have to. Eventually, they all knew that I knew.

Jay outlasted me on the belief front. Three months shy of her 12th birthday, she was wary but still believing. A year earlier, she narrowly missed having her eyes opened wide when she confessed her belief to a non-believing friend. Nick’s parents had laid it out for him, but when Jay told him that she believed and explained why (because she once heard jingle bells on our roof), Nick listened and said only, “You might be right, Jay.” I love him for that. I’m not sure precisely when Jay stopped clinging to her visions of a winking old man slipping into her home leaving gifts. One Christmas, I just knew that she knew.

This Christmas, Clyde and Tanner know. I can feel it. BigG asked them to rank their belief in Santa at the bottom of their Christmas Wish lists. “A 5 means you believe and a 1 means you don’t.” They each wrote “4” but later retrieved their lists, crossed out the “4” and bolded “5.” But I know better. They’re only pretending to believe. I know they know that the one bit of magic they were willing to believe isn’t what they thought it was, and their new understanding has left them disappointed and sort of sad.

I won’t talk to them about what they’ve figured out, in part, because as long as they’re willing to pretend, I’m willing to let them, and in part because there’s nothing I can say right now to console them.

I could remind them that what I’ve always told them is still true: “You have to believe to make the magic happen.” I could tell them that Santa is no less real now than he’s ever been. Who or what is Santa, really, I could ask them? I’ve never had to lie about Santa, I could explain, because I believe in unconditional love and heartfelt giving, and that’s Santa. I could say this, I suppose, but I won’t.

Someday I’ll tell them what I know: that the Santa they’ve known until this year will be back, for me and for them, when they have children and join in the work of keeping his spirit alive.

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This Weeks Tip

We did a review a while ago of dry shampoo. Here’s an alternative when you don’t have time to wash, but want to get rid of the oily-ness. Sprinkle some baking soda on your hair, comb through then quickly fluff your hair with a blow dryer. (note: You can also add a little scented baby powder to keep your hair smelling clean!)