Neither my husband nor I are locked into a lot of “traditions” when it comes to the holidays. We play things by ear and go with what works best for our family.
We have, however, tried to enjoy the magic of Santa with the Navigator. It has sometimes been difficult – he had a very hard time understanding why Santa would not bring him the full-sized backhoe, triceratops, and million dollars in single bills that he asked for one year.
Santa is magic, after all, why couldn’t he pull that off?
As he got older he started asking whether Santa was real. Not asking, really, more like cross-examining, just without good facts on which to base his questioning.
He started devising experimental methods to test whether Santa was real.
He said he wanted to sleep in my room which has an old fashioned pendulum clock that gongs on the hour. He was going to listen for it to gong midnight and then go downstairs to see Santa in action.
Or he was going to watch his dad and me on Christmas morning for signs of a sugar high from eating the cookies left for Santa the night before.
I congratulated him of thinking of a clever means to test his hypothesis, and then asked him what he was going to do with a positive result or with a negative result.
A good scientist doesn’t assume, after all.
What has been harder have been his direct questions. While he is looking for the black and white answer, for me whether Santa exists really relates to issues of philosophy, beliefs, and faith, as well as facts and conclusions.
To me, belief and faith can be as valid as facts and conclusions because both powerfully motivate people.
The idea of Santa Claus, Father Christmas, etc., is at least 500 years old. I think the idea of Santa has stuck around so long because it is incredibly appealing.
There is a magic in it that we want to keep in our culture. I don’t want the Navigator to fail to see the magic by being so focused on black and white facts.
This week when he asked if his dad and I were Santa, I told him we helped Santa.
He was indignant.
“But he has magic!” he exclaimed. “He doesn’t need help!”
“Dad and I are his magic.” I answered. “We have the best magic of all, a magic that doesn’t need wands or incantations, a magic that is so easy for us to produce people forget about it or think it is unimportant, but it is a powerful magic. It is a magic that never runs out.”
I told him to put out his arm and close his eyes. Then I touched his arm and asked him what I was doing. (Thank you “City of Angels.”)
“Touching my arm,” he said.
“How do you know?” I asked.
“Because I can feel it.”
“How do you know that your dad and I love you?”
He smiled. “Because I can feel it.” He paused a moment and I saw the light flash across his face.
“The magic is love, isn’t it?” he said, grinning.
“How do you know?” I asked again.
“Because I can feel it.” The look on his face – a kind of happy understanding – was indescribably moving.
I hugged him tightly.