The day after Thanksgiving we took Chris to visit Santa. Chris is eight years old — nine in February — so this very likely might have been our last Black Friday visit with jolly old Saint Nick. Of course I hope not. I hope he believes forever.
It’s selfish really, wanting my son to stay in this perpetual state of holly jolly arrested development. But I miss believing in that magic. I miss that blind faith, that anticipation, that innocence. And so the reasoning goes if he still believes then I can believe too.
Because as long as Chris believes then maybe just possibly Santa Claus is real. And if he is real then maybe he really does live in the North Pole with his grandmotherly wife and his army of Roloffs. And if the wife and the little people are real so then it stands to reason are the flying reindeer. And if he can make reindeer fly then circumnavigating the globe in one night is suddenly not so impossible. And if it’s not impossible then it must be possible. Santa Claus is real.
Which is all I want. Because if Santa Claus is real then I’m eight years old again. It’s Christmas Eve and I’m too excited to sleep. Like every Christmas Eve since I was three, I’ve been up all night waiting until that moment when I can rush down the stairs to see what Santa brought. It’s the magic of Christmas and I haven’t lost it. It’s still in me.
Except I’m not eight years old. I’m an adult. A cynical and jaded adult.
Like the man on the radio this morning as we drove Chris to his bus stop. The commercial voice announced, “The holidays are a stressful time.” Chris interrupted, “Why are the holidays stressful?” I started to list the reasons: money, family, low levels of serotonin that bring on S(easonal) A(ffective) D(isorder)…but then I realized that he was not asking a question, he was making a point:
There is no legitimate reason for this to be stressful. It’s Christmas. It’s magic. It’s Santa Claus. Stop making this complicated. Just believe.
If only. Because as we get older — no matter how hard we might try — we can never truly recapture the innocence and magic of our Santa years. It always eludes us. Just.
My wish for Chris is that he never outgrow his Santa years; that he keeps the innocence and the magic of Christmas with him always. How different the world would be if we could all do just that very thing.