Like most three-year-olds, Coraline is pretty psyched about Santa. In her letter to him this year, she started off with “I love you Santa. I love to give you kisses.” While this could very well have been intended to just butter up the old guy for the list of desires immediately following (she is a clever girl), I think it was more a genuine expression of adoration for the mythical bearded man who brings toys and knows to stop at our house first before he begins his 500-year-trek across the globe. Yes, Coraline believes it takes Santa five centuries to complete his task. She also believes that the man she saw at Adam’s today is the same man she later saw riding a Harley behind a string of biker elves led by a real antler-wearing biker Rudolph.
I find it delightful, this world of magical realism toddlers inhabit. For this reason, I plan to prolong Coraline’s belief in Santa as long as I can. Over the past several days, as Christmas has come up in discussion with various people, I’ve enjoyed listening to older moms tell the stories of their kids’ fervent Santa beliefs and how they ultimately discovered the truth. One mom said her young son wouldn’t allow them to light a fire in the fireplace all December long for fear that Santa would arrive early and burn his butt. For everyone it seemed that the day their child no longer believed in Santa was a sort of unofficial milestone, a little threshold between childhood and the rest of life where more seems impossible than possible. Stoking Coraline’s excitement is a joy. And even though her excitement is indirectly related to the things she anticipates receiving on Christmas morning, it’s fun. She has so little time to be a kid, really. Plus, the whole “checking his list” thing is a mighty fine motivator to behave. I have to milk it while I can.
How do you feel about the Santa thing? Do you remember when you or your child discovered Santa wasn’t real? (Do you do anything special to convince your young ones he is real?)