Last week, my eight-year-old granddaughter asked me, “Grammy, will you give me an iPad for Christmas?” I was sad. Oh sure, I checked with her mother and the teacher regarding the benefits of her using fun applications for mastering math and reading comprehension, and I discovered that I do not need to get the newest, most costly model, but I am still sad. This little girl no longer believes in Santa Claus. She has her gift list organized and has communicated to each of her doting family members what they can provide under the Christmas tree. She has grown up. No more Santa for her. No more cookies and milk by the fireplace.
Recently, I overheard a parent saying that she believes in always telling her child the truth. She wanted her young son to know who really brought the toys and games on Christmas. It does not matter whether he wants to believe in Santa or not. It does not matter that he will tell other children “the truth,” upsetting a few families this season. No Santa at their house this year.
It seems that more and more adults think that if we help our children face the reality of life, they will not be devastated when life deals them a major blow. It is as if we want to protect them from hoping and believing in something better, something magical. Santa Claus knows I am good, and he’s going to come to bring me a toy. If there is no Santa Claus, if Santa is not real, then what is the true message to children? It does not really matter. There is no benefit in being good, in believing. Just ask for what I want–a gift–and I’ll get it.
Personally, I refuse to stop believing in the magic of Santa’s annual visit. At 63, I still embrace the spirit of St. Nicholas, his generosity and anonymity. Maybe I have internalized his legacy to such an extent that I actually have become Santa. Yes, I no longer believe in flying reindeer or Arctic toy shops, but I do believe that Santa is real to all children who believe in this magical spirit. And children need more than gifts. Children need to believe in something magical and pure. This keeps them innocent and believing in the spirit of giving,
without seeking something in return. This helps them hold on to childhood as long as they need to. This is why I do not want Santa to disappear.
This holiday season, as we increase school security to better protect our children from the violence and chaos, as most of us hold our children closer and tighter, full of anxiety and fear, I suggest that we do not let Santa Claus disappear. His spirit might actually help our young children get through the horrific times in their world, because Santa is really in all of us as we do nice things for others throughout the year.
By the way, we have a newborn grandson, so Santa will be coming to my house for some years to come!