Why We Haven’t Yet Sent Santa on His Merry Way


 I remember having a discussion with my husband before the first Christmas that our daughter was old enough to grasp the concept of Santa.  It went something like this:

Me: I think we should do it until she’s old enough to start asking if Santa’s real.

Steve: But don’t you think she’ll be mad at us some day for lying to her?

Me: We both grew up with Santa, and we somehow managed to forgive our parents.

Steve:  But we’ll have to buy twice as many presents.

Me: She’s the only grandchilBelieving in Santad/niece on both sides of the family.  Theoretically, we wouldn’t have to buy her anything…ever.  Plus, we can be sure Santa’s presents aren’t as good as ours.

Steve:  Okay, we’ll try it.

Fast forward a few Decembers…Our six year old still believes in Santa, and we haven’t done anything to kill the dream.  She asks the typical questions about the logistics of delivering millions of presents in one night and how a sleigh can fly, but her questions are still pretty innocuous. She hasn’t caught on to the fact that we usually deflect her questions back to her with a “What do you think?” or “That’s a good question!” We don’t want to lie to her outright, but we’re still okay with a few lies by omission. 

The fact is she could probably handle the truth, but I’m not ready to let go of the magic. There’s a certain twinkle in her eye when she thinks about Santa, writes letters to him, and wants to Skype with him.  She wonders why the tooth fairy sometimes brings a dollar and sometimes brings a quarter, but she has yet to connect disappearing teeth with the top drawer of her daddy’s dresser.  But she’s already started to lose some of the magic she once embraced. She indulges me when I pretend that the laser lights shining out of dorm windows on the PSU campus are fairies, but she used to squeal with joy when we saw a laser light fairy, no questions asked.  I know the day will come, probably very soon, when she will catch on (or let us know she’s been onto us for years?) to the Santa farce, but for now she’s still game. 

Besides, Santa’s pretty thoughtful.  Last year, he stopped by my aunt’s house to assure Karys that he knew where she would be on Christmas morning.  She was worried that he might miss her since she wasn’t in her own home. I love that, just for a moment, she felt special enough to deserve a visit from Santa.  My aunt and her best friend had a hand in arranging the visit, and I’m not sure we would have ever gone to those lengths, but for Karys it was real.  She still talks about Santa’s visit and uses it as evidence in her philosophical discussions with friends about Santa’s existence. 

This year, she wants Santa to bring our dog to the East Coast where we’ll be celebrating on Christmas morning. We just performed a minor miracle and spent a huge wad of money to get our dog to the West Coast, so I can tell you now that her one wish isn’t going to come true, but for now, she believes it’s possible. 

We’ve also decided to keep the big guy around because his gifts are pretty modest.  He usually brings one nice toy and a few clothes; Nana, however, is a whole different story. Karys receives most of her gifts from the other people she loves, so Santa plays the role of a nice old man who gives her something nice.  We’ve never tied her behavior to whether Santa will come, mostly because she’s generally good natured and her only “misbehavior” is asking challenging questions.  I may just become like my mom and mother-in-law, who continued giving gifts from Santa (along with socks and underwear) long after all of their children were adults. 

The thing is, at Christmas and throughout the year, I want her to believe in possibility.  I want her to believe that sometimes good things happen just because you ask nicely.  I want her to realize the power of the perfect gift, both as the giver and as the receiver. I want her to value generosity and look for opportunities to make someone smile. 

When she stops believing in Santa, I want her to embody him in some small way.

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Aside from being a writer, Kendra is a Birth Trauma Doula at KarysMa Birth, where she helps moms find their joy after birth trauma. A former middle school English and theatre teacher, she has an insatiable love for learning and a flair for the dramatic. Among the best moments of her life, she counts marrying her husband Steve during a dream rainbow wedding, planning a princess picnic on the beach with her eight year old daughter Karys, giving birth to her one year old daughter Saryn in the middle of a blizzard, and sitting on stage with Glennon Doyle. A Navy brat for the first 13 years of her life, Kendra settled in Virginia for eighteen years before she was finally ready to move again, relocating to Portland in 2014. You can find her work on Portland Moms Blog, The La Leche League Blog, and The Not Your Average Mom Project, as well as the hard drive of her computer.


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