unrecognizable person showing glowing sparkler against night sky

Do You Believe In Magic? Do You Write About It?

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)

42 thoughts on “Do You Believe In Magic? Do You Write About It?

  1. It sounds like you daughter consciously WANTS to believe in the magic. Foster that sense of magic as much as you can; even once it turns into “I know, but we don’t talk about it”.

    We Americans are a strange bunch. As you said, we’re pragmatic when it comes to Santa, and the Tooth Fairy – We wanth the truth; yet many Americans will go on blind faith when it comes to their religion.

  2. Enchanting….I remember those moments of having something akin to a speech ready…just in case…and as you said, found relief when there was no need to peel back all the layers. Sometimes the glimmers carry on if we lean back and let the little ones drive. Love it. 💕

  3. I like your mention of the magic of Christmas, and how it comes from generosity. That’s along the lines of the approach that my wife and I took in regard to Santa. We decided to not tell our two daughters that Santa was real and try to maintain that. Rather, we told our daughters that one person didn’t really zoom around the world and deliver presents in one night, but Santa was part of the magic of Christmas.

    I’m a believer in magic. When I’m reading a novel and I’m imaginatively transported to another place and time, that’s magical to me. And when I’m transported while writing, that’s also magical.

    Magic has come up in some of my writing. For example, I wrote a short story in which a sock and glove have a conversation in a laundry room. 🙂

    1. Love your take on Santa, Dave. And I was thinking of “Don’t Lose Your Head” as a I wrote this. You did a great job of weaving in the inexplicable! Thanks for the great examples of all the magic in writing…and reading!

  4. Like you, when you mention magic I think of Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Laura Esquirel or Don Miguel Ruiz. Those are authors who appeal to me when I’m not being pragmatic. I love the idea of magic, good magic, in the world and that children are the ones who see it best.

  5. This made me laugh. My adult (over 40) daughter has never forgiven me for telling her Santa was not real on her 10th birthday. We had opted to take the kids on holiday instead of presents, so I let her in on the secret. Oh how mean we parents can be….

  6. “a dubious parenting manual (and by that, I mean the Internet)”–Bwahahaha! Love this! And, oh? The wordiness about that which cannot be rationally explained?! Saaaaame here! I love how this all resolved in this particular case, and think with added joy of a recent tooth fairy exchange with one of my own littles. The sense of magic is still there. <3

  7. You touch on something really important and vast in this post and it is massaging the whole me. Magic is all around us, no? The rising sun, the cycles of natures of death and rebirth. We think of someone and suddenly get a phone call from them or suddenly walk into them. All the synchronicities of life etc. But I truly love how this post of yours massages me. Maybe we ( including myself) forget about the magic that happens in every moment and are just looking for something big. But in those small happenings is the real big magic hidden. Thank you for a great reminder through this post-Wynne. And if you allow me, I would Like to reblog it on my own blog, Can I?

    1. I love your observation that magic is all around us. It’s so true – and to Ally’s point above, that children see it best! Please feel free to reblog, Parisa! I’d be honored.

  8. I think I have blocked out those conversations… 😉 I love O’s very grown up thoughts on “why don’t people want to believe in magic?” In a few years it will be extremely interesting to sit with her and discuss what she has learned regarding the why of it all and I bet she will have some astounding answers to share!

    1. Let’s put it on the calendar to go hiking and talking with her to find out those answers, Deb. I bet you’re right – it’ll be interesting!!

  9. It’s unfortunate when young ones have to burst the bubble of magic in their friends’ beliefs. I remember taking my daughter to the Easter Bunny for a photo at the mall when she was four or five. Afterward she said to me, “Mom, why did you make me sit on that dude’s lap? His costume had a zipper down the back.”

  10. I’m glad you asked her as I think it’s important to talk about these things. At some point, as we grow up, we tend to lose our belief in magic. As for me, I’ve always kept some, probably because I tend to be very imaginative. I hope she keeps some as she grows old too. 🙂

  11. This is priceless Wynne, a dubious “parenting manual,” and your discomfort when writing about magic without a plethora of words grounded in reality. I loved the discussion with your daughter and how she innocently saved you from a tough conversation. We had this unwritten rule that no one was allowed to crush the beliefs of others just because they turned thirteen and decided to challenge the validity of Santa and the magic of Christmas. As views about the reality of Santa shifted with the ages of our kids Larry and I stayed unified in our approach, Mom and Dad are super tight with Santa. End of story. Can I just warn you, the scary conversations are about sex, politics, and the nature of God. Hugs, C

    1. Oh, the unified front! That’s brilliant, Cheryl! So, if I don’t have to talk about Santa before age 13 – does that mean I get to put off sex, politics and the nature of God til that age too? 🙂 Thanks for the lovely comment, as always!

  12. Aww, I love the “magic” of this conversation Wynne. Sometimes it takes little ones to remind us what Santa Claus and the tooth fairy are all about! Good for Miss O. Tell I still believe too. And phooey on friends trying to rain on our parade!!!😊😊😊

    1. Ah, Brian, you are so good! I’m hitting you up for the next $2 bill I’m going to need now… 🙂 You’re right – phooey on parade-raining friends. 🙂

  13. I remember one of my son’s primary school teacher while we were visiting a forest where they had set up stories of gnomes. My son asked her if those stories were true. She replied that if he believed in them, then they were true. So, this is my reply to the question in the heading. If you believe in magic , then it’s real.

  14. So, my daughter was 12 when I finally got her to understand that Mom and Dad were Santa. She held on tight to her belief in magic. I felt horrible taking it from her.

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