As I wiped the layer of dust off the top of the storage box, I inhaled, ignoring the cloud of motes twirling their way into my lungs. That dusty breath aimed to calm my shaky nerves, trying to prepare for the blinding difference this Christmas.
Last year my seven year old son discovered the truth about Santa. The wound of his new truth was still red and raw as we sat around the tree that Christmas morning. He knew this was all a show. One which I’d carefully crafted. I tried finding joy in the few days he still believed last year, before he accidentally discovered the ugly truth. Santa was mom. Mom was Santa.
“This year will be different.” I thought, prying the lid off the holiday decorations, ready to create the magic again in 2019. Despite the festive air filling our home, a pool of sadness rippled in my chest. I’d lost something important last year and now I was facing it full on.
As parents, we dread the first kid finding out about all the magical creatures we’ve dreamed up for them. From the moment we write Santa on that very first gift, we’re on borrowed time. And when our child ultimately discovers the truth, it feels like a piece of their innocence vaporizes in an instant. We mourn this unstoppable moment. There are articles letting parents down gently and giving us creative ways to share the truth. And we’ll inevitably come across those kind hearted older parents, imparting unsolicited wisdom of how to cherish all of this hecticness because one day, they don’t believe, and you’ll very much long for these days back. Their war weary stories thick in our brains. Guilt rising when we’re stressed, repeating over and over that parenting mantra: cherish this because they say it will all be over soon.
Time begins to tick faster when our children enter elementary school. Their synapses firing and growing, and they begin to question the world you’ve so tenderly surrounded them with. We hold our breaths, cross our fingers, and close our eyes tight, wishing for one more year. But time will not be defeated, no matter what superstitious methods we employ. So we must brace for impact as we fly through the years.
But what if we don’t have to brace? What if our landing is smooth as glass? What if we can open our arms wide and embrace the change? What if we can anxiously await the day our children discover it because…
It’s pure magic! It’s not the sad drama that was painted for us. It’s more magical than before. And as a newly minted holiday magic honesty parent, I can attest, this holiday season has been nothing short of magical. For me. Even though he is well aware of all the fairy tales I spent seven years weaving, just for him, it doesn’t matter. Now, he’s in on the secret. And he loves it. He’s thriving on this insider knowledge.
You see, he has a five year old little brother. And his brother deeply believes in any and all holiday magic. My oldest, now eight, has self-appointed himself the protector of this secret. It’s a job he takes very seriously. He’s determined to keep his brother believing.
The two of us have whispered magical things countless times. Out of ear shot from his baby brother. He schemes and plans. All from the magic in his heart.
One most impressive night he moved the elves himself. “He said to me, “after a long day, I just wanna hide some elves.” He hid them in a cabinet, with pieces of cinnamon roll on their laps and a plate with the rest of the old pastry on it. It was incredible and creative and full of silly magic. His little brother loved it!
The other night he walked by me on his way to bed, turned over his shoulder, and said “Hey mom, don’t forget to move the elves.” And kept right on walking into his bedroom. I sat slack jawed watching him close his bedroom door. My teary eyed devastated seven year old grew up into an eight year old young man in less than a year. And it’s magical!
All the years I spent creating this magic for him was just his training. He was learning, observing, and growing. I’ve grown the magic, not erased it. When you bring them in on the secret and the work, you give the next generation the gift of warm holiday love. The magic rises in them and shoots out from their limbs like sunbeams. So don’t mourn the time your child discovers the magic. Welcome it. Dare I suggest, anticipate it.
You possess the incredible power of knowing you’re crafting of a spectacular holiday world, whatever that looks like for your family. The years they spend believing is their time to absorb your magic. It’s the most epic and important of gifts you could give your child. And it’s everlasting.
And next year, as I wipe the dust from the holiday bins, my heart will pulse with excitement; sadness and mourning nowhere to be found. I’ll sit on a precipice of unlimited holiday magic awaiting us.