I’m not going to lie – I love Christmas. Here’s the thing though, I really only love it in July when I catch a glimpse of a Christmas scene in a movie and I think “I can’t wait for Christmas!” Cut to me in December and I’m left feeling like something is missing, and wondering how I can fix it.

On the outside we go all out. The lights are up, candles are in every window, the tree is trimmed. Hell, we’ve even been listening to Christmas music since the day after Thanksgiving. Every year I try a little something different- we’ll do our shopping early, we’ll do it late, we’ll get more decorations, we’ll hit all of the Christmas parties, we’ll stay home. Truth be told though, I know what’s missing, it’s magic.

We just returned from Disney World where we had a surprisingly good time. Seeing the world through a 5 year olds eye’s in a place like that is payoff for parents’ sleepless nights, struggles at dinner, and all-out battles at bedtime. I’m not altogether sure those payoffs outweigh the tradeoffs so I’m going to count them where I can get them.

The most poignant and memorable part of the whole trip was easily inside Belle’s castle. We had just finished watching Beauty and the Beast in the rental van and Wyatt was most excited to see the Beast’s castle. Inside, a talking mirror transformed into a door as we were “magically” transported to the castle. Behind us the voice of a girl no more than 7 exclaimed “Guess what? It IS real.” Those five words sound so simple but they were loaded with joy, and wonder, and a belief in the magic that doesn’t extend beyond childhood. I instantly teared up. That’s the elusive feeling of Christmas that no matter how hard I try, I just can’t access. It’s the magic.

The magic for a 5 year old being surrounded by his favorite characters.



The magic of being able to dance with Belle in her own castle.


The magic of watching a parade, and fireworks, and staying up past midnight, and waiting for Santa until you’re so exhausted you can’t stay awake any longer.

wy parade

And it’s this magic that leaves me torn – do I feed into the belief in santa, filling the stocking and wrapping the gifts with different paper? Do I let him believe in magic knowing how fast it could, and one day will get ripped away? Knowing how small this window is for this kind of wonder do I encourage it? Or am I setting him up for a lifetime of Christmasses that no matter how hard he tries, just aren’t quite right?  How do you handle santa in your house, and how have you come to grips with it?





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  1. December 18, 2012

    this is funny because i had hoped to write a santa post too. santa the man the myth the legend. it is a problem in my house and now hind sight i wish i had did it so very differently. we fed the santa belief to a boy who for some reason SO desperately wants magic to be real. he believes santa is magic and never dies. so rather than the usual toys and such, my very sensitive little boy declares every year he is going to just ask santa to make HIM magic so that he can make US magic and so none of us ever die. (i am not kidding.) when he firts uttered those words some few years ago my heart sank… here is a myth you have been feeding him. helping him believe in magical things. celebrating them . and now how do you tell him that no i am sorry, santa is a lie, there is no magic, and we will all die. that is where i feel this has brought us. and i know not all kids believe SO very badly in magic, i know my boy is extra sensitive in these matters. he is just wired that way, but now how i wish we had went about this all a different way… too late. so he is 8, he still believes. he wrote on the bottom of his list this year, “are mommy and daddy and casey and i magic?” sighhhhhhh oh my tender hearted boy. what will happen? when santa goes down in flames like he does for all kids, how iwll HE process it? that is yet to be written. not aa chapter i am looking forward to at all.

    • kate #
      December 18, 2012

      I can see how that is such a difficult situation for a parent. But (and I can say this, ’cause I’m not in your shoes), I believe that there are so very few of us who wholeheartedly embrace magic and possibility and impossibility. I believe those souls are the ones who grow up to make magic ’cause they can see what the rest of us practical plodders can’t. The inventors, the engineers, the scientists who map a genome no-one ever thought we’d map, the Steven Spielbergs of the world. The teacher who sees what no-one else can and helps a kid become who he was supposed to be. Gah, the JK Rowlingses. These, to me, are the folks who never let something as silly as the present and the “way things are” stop them. My two cents (and I don’t even know your son). We need the magic believers more than we ever did before.

      • Becky #
        December 18, 2012

        kate this is such an unbelievably beautiful perspective, and one I hadn’t thought of (which is saying a lot because I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this from all different angles). this makes me love the internets just a little bit more.

  2. December 19, 2012

    As my girls have moved beyond the ‘Santa is real’ realm (last year was the defining moment) I have tried to continue with the magic by exploring the history of Christmas and Sant Nic with them – selectively! The old Scandi dude long ago who build a reputation in his community for giving and caring – that spirit of caring and sharing carries on and we keep it alive and real by practising the tradition…etc…Doesn’t sound very romantic as I write this but my beautiful girls really get into the giving and caring in a magical way.

  3. damiec #
    December 21, 2012

    We don’t celebrate Christmas in my family, but I have one child who lives in a world of magic and fantasy. It’s just the way she’s built, and I’ve felt these feelings too – of wanting to let her down easily at home rather than have her bubble burst about ways of the world on the playground. But kids can manage complex parallel realities. My husband is a scientist and a pure empiricist, and last year he gave her a science book called The Magic of Reality which is written to help explain what we know of the mysteries of our world. She reads it alongside her dragon-slaying, alternate reality fantasy books and can hold both in her head quite well. I think, like Kate, it’s the kids like these, who believe so hard who end up changing the world for the rest of us – the Walt Disneys, the Steve Jobs, the scientists who cure the incurable. That belief they have propels them past the requisite failures along the way, and maybe how they define “magic” bends and changes as they grow, but that ability to believe – that stays with them – and I think it can serve them well in the end.

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