We can all recall moments in our childhood when something changed. If you still spend holidays with any extended family, you know they come up almost every time you get together.
The “thing” to change doesn’t need to be significant. It could be the way you saw the grown-ups in the family, or the first fight you got into with your cousin that made you realize he or she wasn’t all that.
They can be when you found out about Santa Claus.
I don’t remember much of when I found out, but I do now think back fondly on all the lengths my family went to just to keep me believing.
Our youngest found out last night… thanks to some magician on a Netflix show. My husband and I sat there and heard the guy talk about how his parents lied to him about the Easter Bunny. Then, I am reaching for the remote, in what felt like slow motion, as he spits out how crazy it was for him to have believed in Santa as a kid.
My baby girl looked over at me and she could tell by the look on my face that this guy was telling the truth.
This was not the way I wanted her to find out! You see, I had it all planned out.
I had told our oldest one day after school. I knew one of the girls that could be pretty mean to her knew the truth. I didn’t want some terrible incident on a bus ride home from school to be her memory of finding out. I was poetic about magic, and tradition, and the joy of the season. She was disappointed, because she had a gift she wanted that year that she knew we couldn’t afford…. and she wanted Santa to bring it. (My heart… they always say this every year!!! Sweet girls.)
So, now our “baby” is the same age as when I told our oldest. I knew the time was coming. (though I was hoping to squeeze out one more) However, I wanted it to be on our terms. Not from some guy named Justin who used to host Cupcake Wars, but now says he is a magician. (Sorry, Justin, you are just not my favorite person right now.)
Our youngest is the dreamer. She is the magical flying girl with dragons and unicorns. She has a made up story for any event… “What if it was like”… “What if instead, you had said or done”… She loves magic and wonder. The last thing I wanted was for any of it to be taken away.
Once the initial surprise started to wear off, there were tears. She was so mad at herself for crying. She didn’t understand why. We talked to her about how normal that was, that she was just finding out something she didn’t want to be true. It was a tough moment, for sure. I did not handle it the way I had wanted.
So, I wrote her the letter pictured above here. I will give it to her today.
And, now, I wonder.
What are the moments that will shape our girls?
Will it be the times I yell because they are not getting out the door fast enough…
…or the times I sit with them as they cry over something that happened at school that day?
Will it be the nightly reading of books…
…or the times I ban them from any electronics?
Will it be the Christmas when I decorated the entire tree area, including some presents, in the “Sound of Music” theme…
…or the time they each found out we have been lying to them for 11 years about a jolly old man who brings them presents?
I think, as parents, most of us try to do our absolute best. I believe many do so much better than I do. I learned cuss words in 4th grade by boys named Matt and Scott. My girls learn them from me at 7am on any given morning when things aren’t going well.
So, what will my little family’s holiday stories look like?
Listen, for all my flaws, and I have many, I do know I love our girls like no one else. I try constantly to pour support, kindness, empathy, and love into them every day.
But, like everyone I make some big mistakes, as well. We all remember our mistakes more than our triumphs.
My hope is that the good poured into my girls will beat down any of the negatives, and they will always know the magic of any season.
My hope is that they will now truly understand the meaning of Santa: Going out of their way to bring magic and wonder to everyone they possibly can.
Because, magic and wonder are two powerful tools that can sustain hope and love.
And, that is a better story to tell than that one time she heard some magician guy named JUSTIN!!!… tell them that the magic wasn’t real. Ugh, Justin.