It’s that time of year. The holidays. It’s one of my favorite times of year and admittedly it’s all because of Christmas. This is ironic because by birth, technically I’m Jewish. But there has always been something about Christmas that draws me in. It’s not the birth of Christ or anything religious mind you. But it’s the spirit and magic of the holiday. The lights. The decorations. The beauty of snow covered trees (at home, obviously not here as it doesn’t snow) with the lights twinkling under them. It’s the fantasy of knowing that while something is not technically real, it feels real.
And it’s way over commercialized today. I absolutely 1000x agree that these days, the holiday no longer is quite as mystical as it used to be. And here is yet another pro of living in Spain. We are living in a bubble here. Yes there is some commercialism here but no where near the extreme of what we see in the US. A holiday is still a holiday and while some stores tried to recreate Black Friday here with shops open at extended hours, they are still closed on the holidays. And only for a few Sundays per year are they open – ironically it’s this time of year. But regardless, it’s minimal compared to what we have at home. Kids get less here and actually Christmas isn’t even a very big holiday, though it’s getting more Americanized. Three Kings is bigger and more celebrated during the first week of January.
Regardless, I’m lucky to say that the kids are spared some of the commercialism, competition and overstimulation of the holidays by living here. And in a way, it’s also allowed us to continue with the belief in Santa Claus.
But we’re on the verge over here in the Marcus household. Aidan’s 9 1/2 now and for the last year or so he’s been having his doubts on Santa’s existence. Each time he brings it up, I blow it off. And he hasn’t questioned me when I do (and he’s the kind of kid that if he truly believes in something, he’ll be right up your butt telling you why he’s right until he breaks you down) which makes me think he’s not 100% confident about whether Santa is real or not.
So why not just tell him at this point? I’ve never lied to him before about anything. If anything, I’m one of those parents that tells their children probably a little too much. To me, it’s about the innocence of childhood. Of believing in the magic that someone you can’t see or talk to is real. That you believe that he is able to fly all around the world, never missing a child and showing them that they have been good by giving them presents. Once they no longer believe, there is something that is gone forever. I recognize that Aidan has not been a baby for a long time but there is just something very big kid about no longer believing and I want to keep that innocence for just a little bit longer.
Kids grow up too fast these days and yet live a much more sheltered life than we did as kids. Seeing your child’s eyes light up with the excitement and joy when they see the presents under the tree when they wake up – it warms your heart like little else. Seeing a child on that first Christmas when they understand the concept of Santa is magical, somewhere around the age of 3. Seeing the belief in their eyes brings tears to mine.
I get that they have to grow up and let’s be realistic, it’s easier for me if they don’t believe – no more disguising my handwriting, special wrapping paper or hiding the gifts. We could go away for Christmas and I wouldn’t worry about how to recreate Christmas somewhere else. But it’s worth it to see the wonderment in their eyes. The excitement of knowing that Santa believes in them as well and the good in them. Because all kids need to be reminded of that good. I’m one of many that holds Christmas over the kids’ heads telling them that if they aren’t good then Santa won’t come. It’s probably not the most effective method to get a child to behave but as a parent you often find yourself grasping at straws in those weak moments. But the point is children need to believe that they are intrinsically good.
We are at a crossroads right now with Aidan. Currently he’s on the cusp of not believing. This is not a bag thing as it’s a sign of him growing up but on the flip side, it also saddens me think that we are the end of the stage of innocence for children to just believe without questioning.
I had planned a magical moment for Christmas in the hopes of pushing this belief out just one more year, of keeping the magic and innocence for just another 12 short months of his lifetime. Josh and I purchased a wii u despite the fact that we told the kids there was absolutely no way that they we would be buying this before we move back to the States. We were at a point where when they would ask (again) we would tell them absolutely not and if they would ask one more time they would not be getting it, even when we move back to the States. I felt we were really convincing.
My plan for Christmas morning was to leave only the lights on the tree on and then of course, the light of the TV which would have their new Skylanders game on and a big bow on the wii u. It was going to be that ahhhh I believe moment! They were going to come downstairs and freak out. But all of that was undone Thanksgiving when Aidan and his friends decide to play game of hide and seek, a completely innocent game that ended up turning everything on its ear.
During Thanksgiving Aidan approached me and asked me “Mom, may I speak with you privately?”. Now normally something like this would make me laugh; I mean really asking to speak with me in private? My first thought was he was coming to tattle on somebody. I did not expect the rest. “Mom you purchased us a wii u didn’t you?” My heart sank. I felt in that moment that the innocence of childhood was gone. I asked him if he’d said anything to his brother. “Of course,” he said. Well that figures.
So now how in the world and I going to fix this and make him a believer still just the one more year? Or do I just let it go and think this is the moment he becomes a big kid with the baby is no longer there despite the fact is nine years old now? I’m not ready yet. I know he’s no longer baby. He hasn’t been a baby for a long time. However that doesn’t mean that I don’t still want him to have that innocence that magic in his life. But he caught me off guard and I wasn’t prepared for this moment. So I did the best I could on the fly, which probably isn’t my best.
So I told him that I had lied. But that I haven’t lied to him about the existence of Santa. I had only lied to him about what he brings. I told him Santa has a lot of children to bring toys to each year and that he can’t bring large toys like the wii u to every single child. It just isn’t realistic. He seemed to buy it, for now.
I wonder if it’s okay to tell this white lie. Will he be angry when he figures out the truth? That he knows I lied right to his face? Or will he understand my reasoning behind my lie? And can we learn something from this? Can I take this lie and make a lesson for them about Santa and giving and getting them to better understand that this is why we should give to others during the holiday season (and really, all year)? Because Santa can’t do it all? Or will Santa not being able to do it all make him no longer real to them?
Children grow up far too young these days. Their years of innocence is getting shorter and shorter. Is it too much to ask for them to have just a little bit more time just believing? I guess in this case we are just going to have to wait for Christmas morning to see what happens. Til then…