Christmas was a bit different this year. We lost a little bit of the "magic" and a huge chunk of reality set in for me.
On 12-5-2004, Kayleigh (who was only 10 years old at the time) came to me with a question. "Mommy, is Santa for real?" It was something that deep down I knew I would have to tell her but I wanted to hold onto every bit of innocent that she was. I knew I had to tell her the truth so I went to the book shelf and pulled down a book that I'd been harboring on the top shelf, completely out of sight of any little eyes. It was called "Santa, Are You For Real?" by Harold Myra. As I sat down on the couch with her, I told her I had a book to share with her. She was old enough to read it to me so we sat there together and with my arm around her and her snuggled up to me, she read out loud.
The story is about a little boy who questions if Santa is real. His friends told him Santa wasn't real and through colorful pictures it tells the TRUE story of Saint Nicholas. She learned he WAS real, he DID give gifts and WHY he gave the gifts. It also explains keeping Christ the center of Christmas and how we can keep the magic alive in our hearts.
After we read it, she cried but she was relieved to know the truth. From Christmas 2004 til Christmas 2012, Kayleigh has played "Santa" for Kacey. She goes shopping with me each year and we carefully choose things off the long Christmas list. The one thing I've made completely sure of for the last 8 years is that we still keep that same magic alive for her. She still gets surprises from "Santa" and it's still a magical time since Kacey was still insisting there was a Santa.
Yes my friends.....at 12 years old, she STILL believed in her heart that there was a Santa. Now, don't think for a moment that I haven't wanted to tell her the truth and share the same book with her. In fact, I wanted to do that in 2010 when she was 10 years old, the same age Kayleigh was when we told her....BUT....as she looked at us with true innocent eyes, I couldn't bear to break her heart....especially when I saw her light up when she saw "Santa" knew her name when we met face to face with him walking in Walmart. How could I take that magic away? ***sigh*** She is now a 7th grader, will be turning 13 in March and it was time! On 11-21-2012, I had asked her if she was ready for Christmas? The twinkle in her eyes made my heart smile as she talked about things she was putting on her list. I asked her if her friends had said anything about "Santa" and she proudly proclaimed that they had talked about it and they told her Santa wasn't real but she told them that they'd never met the REAL Santa and she had! ***gulp!*** She smiled and continued on about how she knew Santa was real and didn't care what her friends thought. Ohhhhh geesh! ***Please God give me the strength to make it though this conversation.*** I knew the right thing to do was tell her because as Christmas got closer I didn't want her trying to defend the fact that he was real or not and then be teased by friends. Let's face it....Kids in middle school are CRUEL! The weeks leading up to this, we'd joked about different things she had asked for on her list and every time she asked for something I would say "You better ask Santa!" So when she asked for an iPod Touch, it was no different. I told her to "Tell Santa!" and winked at her. A few minutes later, I got a text to my iPhone saying "I would like an iPod Touch for Christmas." I laughed and figured that was her way of saying "I'm telling Santa now!". So I got up and pulled the book back down off the shelf. I asked her if she felt like reading a story with me. I had this lump in my throat and choked back tears. WHY was I so sad? WHY did I feel like Niagra Falls was about to come out of my eye balls? I sat down on the couch with her and showed her the cover of the book. She smiled and I asked her if she would read it to me. She started to read and the more into the book she got, I started to tear up but held them back and composed myself. When she got to the end, there is a part that says "As the family sat around and talked half the night, Todd thought he saw, in the snow and moonlight...a bright eyed Saint Nicholas with his sack looking in, and a wide across his face, a jolly old grin." She closed the book, turned to me and said "See! I told you he was REAL!" I nodded and then quickly realized that she REALLY believed he was STILL a real person. HOW was I going to break this to her? I flipped back in the book to the page that talked about Saint Nick living hundreds of years ago. I had her read it out loud to me again and then.....the puzzled look....the tears....and then full blown crying! It was done....she knew. She sat there for about 15 minutes crying uncontrollably. I hugged her and she wiped her tears. I kept asking her WHY she was crying to hard? WHY are you so sad? She would try and answer and just start crying so hard that she couldn't talk. I sat there with tears rolling down my face. Did I make the right decision? Of course I did! She can't be a teenager and still believe in Santa! Thats ridiculous! But WHY was I crying too? I knew I'd hurt her. I knew at that point that she still really believed. I thought she might have known when she texted me so thats why I figured it was time too. So there we sat, for ONE FULL HOUR, crying together. As it set in, she finally got to the point that she could talk again. She then said, "I wish you would have told me sooner. Thats why I'm so sad. I really thought he was real!" We talked some more about how he was a real man, how he gave gifts to make people around him happy and how we continue the magic for those around us. In our hearts, we're ALL a Santa. We talked some about Jesus and his birth and the three wise men bringing gifts. Once she came to terms with it, we talked about how all the magic wasn't lost. For the last 8 years, Kayleigh has been "Santa" for her and now it's her turn to be "Santa" for Kayleigh and others around her. She smiled and got a little excited about having some shopping time without her sister. BUT.....WHY was I still sad? I had this overwhelming feeling of reality setting in. My babies were not babies anymore. They both knew the truth about Santa and there would be no more "magic" in our house until grandbabies. Thats a very hard pill to swallow! No more babies....no more Santa...I had to find a way to keep this spirit alive in our house.
This year, we continued Christmas as usual. Kayleigh bought for Kacey....Kacey bought for Kayleigh....We bought some goodies for them both...but on Christmas Day, we decided that next year we'd start a new tradition. They're both old enough to understand the REAL meaning of Christmas and with the cost of things going up, we thought next year we'd do something a little different. We focused on the Bible and the Three Wise Men. They came bearing gifts for Jesus but they didn't come with a large sack full of more toys than you could possibly play with. They came with THREE gifts. So next year, we're going to do "stocking stuffers from Santa" and each person would get THREE gifts. One from each member of their family. So for instance, I would get one gift from Frankie, one gift from Kayleigh and one gift from Kacey. Thought needs to go into these gifts, just as thought went into the gifts the Three Wise Men brought. They didn't just bring Jesus dirt, rocks and sticks. They brought him nice gifts with meaning. And then, each of us would be responsible for doing THREE Acts of Kindness for someone else. Thought has to go into these acts and they must be of equal value that you spend on your family member. Everyone was so excited about this new tradition and we have an entire year to think about what our acts of kindness will be. Also, we're going to do the 12 Days of Kindness leading up to Christmas. Each of the 12 days will be a $5 or less act of kindness and that will serve as our countdown. Although....I'm thinking it might be fun to share some "magic" for 25 days instead of 12! So we might just extend it and that will be my entire blog for December. And then....we took it a step further and decided that we just might do this for Easter as well! We acknowledge the Birth of Jesus so why not acknowledge His Death on the Cross for us?
And there you have it.....our feel good magic of Christmas was back! And what did we learn? YES Santa WAS real! NO we don't need all those presents to make us happy! YES it feels good to make others happy BEFORE ourselves! YES we WILL put Jesus FIRST and we will tell the world of His Birth, His Death and His Love & Forgiveness! So be watching for our 'Acts of Kindness' for Easter.
All my love,