This was the year Princess said, "Mom, you don't have to get me a gift from Santa because *dramatic pause* I KNOW." Uh-oh.
Me: Know what?
Her: About Santa.
Me: What about Santa?
Her: *rolled eyes, dramatic sigh* YOU. KNOW.
Me: Princess, I haven't the slightest clue what you're talking about.
Her: *whispering* That he isn't real!
Me: WHAT?!?! Have you lost your mind?!?! Pfffttttt ... not REAL?! Girl, you are crazzzzyyyyy. And then I changed the subject.
I have a confession to make. I still believe in Santa Claus. I'll wait for you to stop laughing.
Okay, allow me to clarify. I do not believe that there has been a single man delivering presents to every single child in the world one night a year for the past one thousand years. Seriously people - how cracked do you think I am? Everyone knows that would create too many ripples in the Space-Time Continuum and history as we know it would not exist. Sheesh.
What I do believe is that something happens this time of year. People start to smile a little more, they give to others more freely, they laugh a little harder, and they remember a little more fondly. There is that little bit of something extra in the air that sparks hope, love, joy, optimism, charity, kindness. If that isn't Santa, what is?
I know there are some of you that, for whatever reason, don't think we should fool our children into believing in Santa. Some of my friends think that Santa distracts from the *real* reason of the season, and I understand that. But, then what is all the non-Christians supposed to celebrate? I also have friends that don't think it is good parenting to lie to their children. It doesn't matter which reindeer pulls your sleigh, what matters is who you deliver presents to.
I love the anticipation leading up to Christmas morning. As the children grow older, it is a lot of fun to listen to them debate what Jolly Old Saint Nick is going to leave under the tree. I find bliss in watching them write their letters. Leaving out cookies and milk - and carrots for the reindeer - is my favorite part of the evening. I love watching hoards of children line up at the mall waiting for just a moment to share their wishes. I've heard from Santa many times that he has had some very meaningful words with children in that couple of minutes.
I think that the world can be a very bleak place. I think that children need whatever they can hold on to that gives them joy and optimism. We try to rush them into growing up. I'm guilty of it myself - Red and I are already talking college choices and he's only in the fifth grade. Why not let them hold on to childhood for as long as they can?
Now, in our house, we've explained that God is the ultimate giver of all that joy and optimism. With us, Santa is a man who loved Christ so much and wanted to celebrate him that he started giving out presents to all of the children he knew. God was so honored by Santa's actions that He has made it possible for Santa to keep doing what he does - even if we can't figure it out.
A the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you are honest with your children or if you let them believe in Santa. What matters is that you show your children love and grace, teach them to be forgiving and hopeful, and spend each day celebrating the wonder that is this time of season. Just don't make fun of me when you hear me humming "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".
Because while God made more than fluffy bunnies, He also made fluffy bunnies.