Monday, December 2, 2013

Why Don't Those Santa's Look the Same, Mom?

There we were standing in line waiting to see Santa. There were no tears and the kids were genuinely excited for their first visit of the season to see Santa. Especially Max, who has been so completely into everything Christmas this year. As we neared Santa and got up next to him, the expression on Max's (our oldest son at 5 1/2 years old) face changed. He got a questioning look and frowned into Santa's face. I thought maybe he was nervous and didn't give it much thought, until that night when discussing the day's events with my husband Matt.

When the conversation turned towards Santa, Matt said he thought Max recognized the differences in the Santa's. They had been at Walmart earlier in the week and "Santa" was there and talked to Max for a bit (he even gave him a "Good Boy" card). I was crushed if this was the case. He has been soooo into the Christmas season this year and I was soooo unprepared to have a Santa talk with him. I also know that the minute Max finds out the truth about Santa, he will not hold it back from his little brother who's only 3 1/2.

So, I did what any good parent would do: I ignored it. Actually, my initial thought was we'd speak to him about t the next day, but when the next day arrived, I decided not to bring it up. What would I even say? I'm a fairly blunt person and I didn't want the conversation to start with me saying "so, do you still believe in Santa or what?" I knew I would go in the direction of 'this is a magical time of year. Santa may not be a "real" person, but he lives in you and me. Santa is all about giving and bringing joy to others and we're doing just that this holiday season by donating new toys, old toys, clothes, books, shoes, etc.' Some sappy crap that I know would bring a million questions. The problem is I didn't want to answer those questions. Not yet anyways.

Sunday evening we took the kids to look at Christmas lights. Whenever Santa was mention, Max quickly said "I don't want to talk about him." I KNEW I needed to have a talk with him, but I needed to figure out my wording to him first. How do I find out what he thinks about what's going on with Santa? I got my answer pretty easily Monday afternoon. Max got home from school and talked non stop about the day's events and kids were just waking up from naps and eating snacks so it was the perfect story time. This year we started reading a new Christmas book every day in December and today was Harrison's day to choose. He promptly chose "Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear."

Imagine my excitement when I read the book and at the end, Sister Bear notices there are different Santa's all around. Papa Bear simply explains to her that those are Santa's helpers. Santa does his work through other Santa's. Max's face lit up, but he remained quiet eating his apples. When the book was finished, another stack of books read, snack was eaten, and kids resumed playing, Max asked to look through the Berenstain Bear book. As he flipped the pages he said "see Mom, these are different Santa's, kinda like ours. Anybody who likes to help and give can be a Santa. Someday I'm going to be like a Santa too." He then set the book down and picked up wrestling with his little brother.

I didn't even need to ask what he thinks of Santa. I don't really care if he thinks Santa is real or not. I care that this amazing little boy believes in what Santa stands for and he wants to be what Santa stands for. Once again, my five year old has taught me a lesson on life and continually shapes me into a better person. I no longer worry about him breaking the news to his little brother that Santa isn't real.

I in no way thought that this would be a year we'd have to face this "is Santa real business?" I mean, seriously, he's five years old! But leave it to my child to instantly notice a difference in Santa's and question it....and leave it to popular children's genre to help shape my child's belief where I have failed. Yes, I'll be a disappointed if he no longer believes that there is a Santa (as in the whole North Pole, Rudolph, Mrs. Claus, visiting every child in the world in one night kind of Santa), but the fact that he understands what Santa truly is about absolutely amazes me. I know he'll happily unwrap his gifts Christmas morning and not think twice about it, because he is only five years old. Today, I once again became a better person because of my children and they've once again let me see things in a new light.