After my post yesterday, a few of my friends requested that I repost this conversation that I had with Abbie last year.
It was one of those moments that I didn't plan, but when it happened, I think I did OK. I spoke from my heart and I have found that when speaking from my heart, I can never go wrong.
What to Say When Your Kid Asks, "Is Santa Real?" originally posted, 12/5/10
When Abs said yesterday, "Mom, I need to know the truth," I thought that she was talking about the truth about what I really put in my meatloaf (vegetables! HA!) , or some other little white lie that I tell to get through the day.
She was not.
Instead, Ab wanted to know the answer to THE holiday question of all questions. The BIG ONE. Virginia's question.
You know the one.
"Mom, I need to know the truth about Santa," Ab said with a stern face.
I stopped wiping up the counter, looked up to meet her eyes, and then answered, "Are you sure you can handle the truth? Are you ready?" I was clearly channeling Jack Nickelson in A Few Good Men.
She held my gaze and replied, " I'm ready mom."
And the moment was here, before I knew it, and I WAS NOT READY TO ANSWER.
So, I took a deep breath, threw the dishrag in the sink, and pulled up a stool next to Ab, and this is what I said:
Ab, you know that there was an actual man, St. Nicholas. He was a good man that made and gave toys to children in his village to celebrate Jesus' birthday. He placed the toys and treats in the children's stockings that they had hung by the fire to dry. By giving children gifts to celebrate Jesus' birth, St. Nick brought great joy to many families.
But, St. Nick was just a man, like you or like me, and eventually, he died.
The people in the town wanted to continue to feel that joy that St. Nick had brought to the village. So, they continued in his tradition. They gave gifts and placed them in stockings, just like he had done. St. Nick's spirit was alive in those people as they continued to feel the joy in giving to celebrate Jesus being born.
So, yes, Ab, Santa or St. Nick was just a man.
But, is he still alive?
My answer is yes, my girl.
Santa is ALIVE. He is alive in each and every one of us when we honor Jesus' birth by giving to each other. He is ALIVE when we gather as a family to decorate the tree. He is ALIVE when we sing Christmas carols. He is alive when our family treks across the frozen tundra to chop down a Christmas tree.
He is ALIVE when we think of others rather than ourselves.
SANTA is alive.
And, now that you know the secret, Santa is alive in you too.
Abbie had been quiet the whole time, and when I paused, I scanned her face to check her reaction.
"Well, what do you think baby?" I finally asked.
A slow smile inched across her face, and she replied in a half-whisper, "Cool."
I laughed and grabbed both of her hands in mine,
"Yep. It is pretty cool," I agreed.
We sat there holding hands for a moment, and then she broke our silence first and said, "Can I help with the presents?"
"Sure. You are part Santa now, so, yes, absolutely."
She smiled. "And the elf on the shelf? What about him?" she questioned.
"The job is yours if you want it, " I answered simply. Then I teased, " . . .Santa."
Her hands flew up to her face and her eyes sparkled. "I do! I do!"
And off she went, to plan and to be Santa.
It is just one more reason that I can't wait for Christmas this year.