I had to have the conversation with my eight-year-old daughter the other day. You know the one I mean? About Santa?
We were driving in the car and I broached the subject as “Do you want to talk about what your friend said the other day about Santa?”
Two days before I’d overheard her friend tell her that Santa wasn’t real. Then the friend took on the tooth fairy too when my daughter had asked, “Do you know your tooth fairy’s name?”
Her friend, a master of short, declarative sentences, replied with a snort, “Yeah, Mom and Dad.”
All of this led to my tentative query in the car. Quite honestly, I was feeling pretty shaky about it. It felt like blurting out something that we can never “unknow” even if we wish to. So, I’d come up with a spin that I got from a dubious parenting manual (and by that, I mean the Internet). I was going to talk about how we can all be part of the magic of the holiday season.
I find it difficult bordering on tortuous to write about and talk about magic. I think of some of my favorite South American authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Juan Luis Borges, and their easy touch with things that can’t be explained.
Then I wonder if some American pragmatism blocks my flow when it comes to breaking away from the observable. Or perhaps it’s my engineering brain. But either way when I start trying to put words to experiences that can’t be rationally explained, I get very wordy. It’s like I need to insist that I really am anchored to reality and a lot of words are my lifeline.
So, when my daughter said she did want to talk about Santa, I started to roll out a lengthy explanation.
“Well, you know that everyone has different beliefs and whether or not you believe in Santa, there’s a magic around Christmas time that comes from the spirit of generosity.”
She nodded and said, “Yes, no one really knows what Santa looks like, so we all see it differently.”
I pressed on, not realizing that she was still pretty attached to the Santa thing.
Before I could launch into more, she interjected, “Why don’t people want to believe in magic?”
Hmm, in my preparation for the talk, I hadn’t prepared a good answer to that one, so I asked about if she’d heard what her friend said about the tooth fairy.
“Yes,” she said, “he said his Mom and Dad were the tooth fairy.” As I started to respond, my daughter continued, explaining something the tooth fairy had just done…”but my mom wouldn’t give [my brother] a two-dollar bill for nothing.”
I stopped. I was magically saved from having a conversation that I wasn’t ready for anyway.
I’ve written more about belief and magic in a personal blog in a post: Cookie Cutter Faith.
I also post on Mondays at the Heart of the Matter blog, a great shared blog of personal storytelling with a podcast that features inspirational creatives. My book about my journey to find what fueled my dad’s indelible spark and twinkle can be found on Amazon: Finding My Father’s Faith.
You can find me on Instagram and Twitter @wynneleon
(featured photo from Pexels)