It was kind of a hard day for Mama. The questions had been coming too frequently and too often to not answer them honestly. Before, when Caleb had asked a specific question about Santa.....I had been able to easily dodge it. "So and so says that Santa isn't real, but I don't believe it. Do you?" "Hmmm...." I'd answer. And, off he would go to play.
As the Christmas season approaches, (you see - when Costco brings out Christmas décor in August, these discussions begin earlier and earlier) and discussions of Christmas lists and letters to Santa begin circulating among friends, just as every year, there will be those in the know who truly want to make sure their friends also understand the truth of Santa.
For us, these discussions kicked off a month or so ago, and again, the questions began......However, it was Emet who would bring it up with the above mentioned phrase. "Mama? Is Santa real? So and So says he isn't, but I don't believe him." "Hmmm....what do you think, Emet? Do you think he's real? What do we know about Saint Nicholas?" "Can I have a snack?" "Ok". Caleb, however, has begun to ask the real questions...."How can Santa live so long? Do you know, Mama?" "How does he afford all of those toys? Who would do that?"
So, today, as he and I were alone in the kitchen, I told him the truth. A secretive smile crept into his eyes. He just learned a huge, big, life truth. The tradition of Santa Clause is just that....a tradition. Yes, it's based on a real person, who was wonderful, and very much believed in the true meaning of Christmas. However, there is no jolly large man in a red, fur trimmed fireproof suit, stuffing himself down blazing chimneys and being hauled at the speed of light through the sky by reindeer.
Yet, along with the secretive smile was a bit of a sadness and panic too. He, too, realized that he is growing up, and sometimes it's hard to face the reality of that.
He and I went for a long walk, a trip to the library, and ended up at Starbucks for a celebratory peppermint hot cocoa and sugar cookie. I explained to him that it nearly broke me inside as much as it did him for him to now know the truth about Santa. I have loved this amazing stage of childish wonder and delight....having all of my children believe in Santa. I was looking forward to at least one more year of it. And, I know, that this is only the beginning of this loss. However, I wanted him to know that he could always believe me, and that I had promised myself that if ever he began to ask real questions about Santa that I would tell him the truth. He needs to know he can rely on me for the truth.
Caleb understood, admitted to being a little disappointed, and asked lots of questions about how I found out and how I felt. He also decided it was still pretty cool to know that Santa is Papa and Mama, and agreed to not share with any other friend or sibling. Each child is to find out in their own time, just as he was able to. We talked, again, about the true meaning of Christmas.
And then we moved on. Papa snuggled Caleb tonight, alone in our room, so that he would have a chance to chat with Papa too about his new found status of being in "the know."
As for me? Am I glad we chose to do Santa? Sure - it's been fun. I'm just struggling, as usual, with letting go of another last.