And what I want to do right now is drop off my daughters at their elementary school, linger in the hall until recess, then clobber a few of the 8-year-olds on the playground. I want to ride that yellow bus home and strap tight-fitting bands around the mouths of the ones telling my girls that there is no Santa Claus. (I will, of course, do none of this. I will sit at home and write.)
I was up until 11:30 pm last night with Caroline: classmates are telling her that her parents are the ones who put the presents under the tree. She wants to sleep in my bed on Christmas Eve in order to prove to her classmates that I didn’t budge—she would assure them that she was right there with me all night long. I gave her a look of surprise when she was telling me this and her tears fell: “I don’t want Santa to be mad at me, but I just want to sleep in your bed with you on Christmas Eve . . . can I Mommy?”
I understand that religion and politics make for awkward cocktail party conversation. This isn’t about whether to write “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” on a greeting card. This is about, if you celebrate Christmas, if Santa was once–if he has ever been–your guy, this is about letting kids be kids for as long as they possibly can.
I propose that if you have a child under the age of 10, then there is no talk of No Santa. And if there is, there are consequences: the child actually does not receive presents on the 25th of December. The parent does not attend any holiday functions in or around the neighborhood. You’re 16, you get your driver’s permit; you’re 18, you vote; you’re under 10 and you full-on believe in Santa. Required.
I don’t walk around the supermarket on any given Sunday and tell the people wearing Philadelphia Eagles jerseys: “There’s just no way they’re winning today: give it up. Not happening.” I don’t sit in a movie theater and scream, “Those faces in the picture frames could not possibly be talking to Harry Potter—that’s not real!” Rather, I sit and eat my popcorn (or in the case of the Eagles, my nachos, waiting for the inevitable to happen).
It’s called “Suspension of Disbelief” coined by Samuel Coleridge, meant to put the onus on the authors to make stories just real enough to keep the reader believing, no matter how wild the tale.
So it may be a lot to take in: all of those elves making all of those toys, Santa hitting all of those homes in one night.
But the part of the story—the part about kindness, about giving, about dreaming, about anticipating—that’s real and wonderful and honestly, we need more of it in our lives. I am the benefactor of my kids’ excitement. I see it in their eyes and I am filled up, and I am remembering being back there myself: my mom’s alive again. We are together as a family on Christmas morning eating farmer’s market donuts and grapefruit, exchanging gifts, completely out of our minds happy that Santa brought us the Sunshine Family house, the two-wheeler, wide wale cords.
Come on. Let this be the season of giving and believing. Give this to me. Give this to my girls. Give it to your children. Give it to yourselves. Be the authors and suspend the disbelief; just keep it at bay for a little while. Surround yourselves in the believing: swim in it up to your ears or just dive right in.