Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Magic... Goes

A couple of weekends ago, my eldest son and I had "the talk." He was standing aside my car, ready for his Little League All-Star practice, and he just blurted it out.

"Dad, is Santa Claus real?"

The whole Santa Claus mythos, I know a lot of Christians have trouble with it. I'm not one. While I respect those that choose not to lie to their children about a jolly old fellow (some hundred years old) that lives with elves, bee-bops about on a jingling sleigh drawn by flying reindeer, and delivers toys in a sack on said sleigh to one billion families on a singular night each year, it's not something about which I really want to quibble. My parents and grandparents (both sides) were Santa families, most of my childhood friends believed, we watched and loved the Christmas specials (there's a Top Ten list I made somewhere on the site), and for me, each family can come to their own decisions about that. But as for Rich, FEED THE LIE says I.

Carson's ten, so he's believed longer than most. Time and circumstance as they were, he caught me unsuspecting and offguard - but don't many of the landmarks of life hit us like that? My son brought his evidence when I rhetorically asked him, "What? You don't believe in Santa Claus?"

"How does he get down all those chimnies with all those toys?"; "What about all the houses without chimnies and with locked doors?"; "What about the people without homes or the ones that live in apartments?"; "Are there really flying reindeer?"; "Isn't the North Pole uninhabitable?"; "Wouldn't his sleigh burn up in the atmosphere going as fast as it would have to travel to get to every home in one twelve hour night?" (Cunning as I am and proud of the fact that you can't slip a Santa Claus question by me, I countered that last one with the fact that the way the world turns, he actually gets twenty-four hours.)

Of course, wisdom being the better part of valor, I tabled the discussion for the night and changed the subject to baseball.

When I was a Santa-believing child of five or six in Ocean Springs, MS, I remember my know-it-all (at the time), seven-year old friend asking me if I wanted to hear a secret. I looked up to him, and he was the fastest kid on our block and in first grade, so I said, "Sure." And he proceeded to enlighten me about Santa Claus, or the lack of one thereof. I don't have many crystalized memories of my five- and six-year old years, but this is one that has lasted. I was sitting on the toilet of my parents bathroom, and I blurted out the same question my son did to me to my parents. They gave each other "the look", and then my dad did something kind of wonderful. He told me the truth about Santa Claus but then followed that up with a story about this thousand dollar train set that he and his brother received at Christmas when they were boys that there was no way in the world that his family or his grandparents could afford. Obviously, I don't remember his story word-for-word, but it left an indelible magic of the Santa-side of Christmas for me when he could have just let me suffer the come-down.

Stealing from Dad, I called Carson into the bedroom alone the next morning while his brother was playing Wii and his sister was building with blocks, and I echoed Dad's story as I told him the truth about Santa Claus... and his wife, elves, reindeer, and the North Pole... and Peter Cottontail... and the Tooth Fairy... and the Great Pumpkin... and the Thanksgiving Turkey that brings presents to good, little children on Thanksgiving Eve...

The experience turned out good for both of us, but it's certainly a precursor of more (personally) dreaded things to come. Right now, my relationship with all my kids is one where I hug and kiss them, go and eat lunch at school with them, dance crazily in the house with them to fun songs, and they love and want all that. But the day's coming not too long from now, where while they'll still want the love in a different fashion, there's also the breaking away that comes with life. That's gonna hurt. Carson's question was the prequel.

Yuck. Anyhow, merry Christmas in July!


DugALug said...

As a no-santa house, this 'talk' was not an issue... however.

The coming 'talk' has me really spooked... I am not at all looking forward that 'talk'.

God Bless

Anonymous said...

Ahh Rich. Enjoy these years. My girls are 13 and 15 now, so it's a whole 'nother situation for me. But I'm finding other ways to connect. (like telling my dd about a secret crush from way back...)


Rich said...

Yes, well, my daughter's not allowed to turn 13, much less 15. I had problem enough with her turning 4.