In defense of Santa Claus (and fairies and elves and magical childhoods)
I'm rather convinced that modern parents have forgotten what it means to have a magical childhood. Nowadays, we're all in favor of the Very Serious Childhood---full of flashcard drills and tofu sandwiches on organic, squaw bread. We have collectively decided that frivolous things like fairies, imaginary friends and Santa Claus must be banished. I'm pretty sure all this uber-functioning, over-scheduled, Very Serious Childhood stuff breaks poor ol' Santa Claus' heart. What he must think of all these highly-literalistic children running around shouting that he isn't real? And also: parents have lied--LIED--to their own children!
What's a dithering, soulful, Mommy to do?
The problem, you see, is that I believe in Santa. Oh, yes. Yes, I do. I also believe in fairies, elves and a very particular little gnome named Mr. Plenderfoot who presently resides in my garden. He guards the fort my children made. He's a very proper gent and so magnanimously tolerant that he didn't even make a fuss when Jude knocked him over one day and broke his head off. We stuck his head back on again. Here is Mr. Plenderfoot:
Last week, one of my twins got out of the car and found a little seed pod on the ground.
"Oh, look Mommy!" she cried. "A fairy dropped her drinking goblet!"
"Why, yes! Yes, she did!" I answered. And together we skipped into the backyard to leave it out for the fairy. You know, because she'll definitely be back to get it.
Oh. That wasn't truthful, you say? Ah, yes. Perhaps I should have dashed that magical moment with all kinds of FACTS about seed pods, cross-pollination and weather patterns? Wait. Do trees cross-pollinate?
See? I don't even know these things. The point IS, I DO know about fairies. And I DO KNOW about the magical wonder that lights up a child's face when you tell them stories about how their garden is full of sacred hiding spots for elves and garden gnomes.
Have you ever spread out a blanket among wildflowers in your garden and told stories about the valiant dwarf, Mr. Plenderfoot? Oh, perhaps the nefarious plots of The Man in the Black Cape and how he tried to kill off my very own, imaginary friend: Elenob?
Now the secret is out. I've had a very close imaginary friend named Elenob all my life. Sometimes I even.....write LETTERS to Elenob!
Oh, dear. I've just outed myself. I'm a terrible parent because I play make-believe and pretend and dress-up and dance through the garden singing songs to elves and fairies!
How dare I? There are more IMPORTANT things to do like learn Latin root words and algebraic equations! And how DARE I lie to my children about Santa Claus? Won't they stop believing in Jesus now?
Well, I talked with Santa Claus about that he laughed a very big HO HO HO and assured me that if I've only done one thing right as a mother it's this: I've delivered my children from the clutches of a dark, cold, SERIOUS childhood and given them the ability to dream. To behold.
To embrace the mystery without needing to unveil it, explain it, understand it.
I've made it safe for them to be wonderstruck and awestruck and to hear sleigh bells on the roof.
Let others have their literalism and facts.
We have Santa Claus.