...is the process by which we create, discover, learn and grow with those we cherish most.


a lesson in believing

After the xmas tree went up, Ava asked me very hesitantly, "is Santa real?"

My mind fluttered with speechless ideas on how this conversation could unravel. I truly believe telling our children the truth - upfront. It builds mutual respect and trust. Now, with that being said, whose to say that my belief about Santa has to be hers?

I understand the argument of instilling hope in our children, and to have faith in that if you're "good" - you will receive "gifts." This is - in summary, the public message of the holidays - it's a good one, and the economy has to thrive in this season too. But the problem with this is that the real message shouldn't be about tangibles. Children should be good right? We hold them accountable daily - From sharing, to not hitting when they get upset - to putting their clothes in the hamper without being asked... And life as it happens as a result - is the gift itself.

So at this very exact moment, while untangling xmas lights, I actually heard a man's voice in my head say, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."

And who could ever forget the scene on Miracle on 34th Street, when the little girl sees her house for the first time... finally convincing her that the old man was Santa...

As a child, I would pray really hard to God, asking for a house and my own room. After seeing this convincing movie, I thought I'd try a new route - even though I was cynical about the whole Santa thing. And the fact that my wish didn't come true - made me question myself: Do I not believe enough? 

Years later, when I was 10, Mom took us inside St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan after spending the day window shopping. I thought that if I prayed really hard in a "church" - God would actually hear me this time, and move us to Texas. {I know... why Texas? I was only 10!} That following year, we did. It took more than 20 years before my parents bought a house, and I had a room of my own - And I wouldn't change a thing. 

Having faith, and believing "in what we can't see" {as emphasized in the infamous editorial} are healthy values to live by - because windows of opportunities really do open - if we choose to see them and act. This is the underlying message of the holidays I want my kids to take away. And that all praise and gratitude be given to - God. Maybe we're underestimating our children to understand this - as most adults don't realize this until much later. So I told Ava... 

No. There is no such thing as Santa. And giving her all the reasons as best I could - she said, "but who filled our stockings last year?"

Was this question her last string of hope - wanting me to say, "Just kidding. Of course there is!" - but instead, I told her the gifts in her stocking were from me... and she still wondered how - if we were all asleep. So this is where I drew the line, and looking back, I guess I shouldn't have. I thought here - I could just say it was magic, and give her mind something to tickle about on Christmas Eve.

"It's Mommy magic, Ava," - and with that response - she felt comforted and dropped the subject. Until of course a few days later -

At a play date, her friend told her she's going to ask Santa for a Matryoshka doll - and Ava replied back, "there is no such thing as Santa. It's Mommy magic!" Her friend confidently informed Ava that there is no such thing as Mommy Magic- It's Santa, and than skipped out of her room, no longer wanting to play.

Ava cried. {My heart fell outside of my body} and I looked at her friend's Mom and knew we both felt the same way - stunned. We both talked to our girls alone - and within minutes they were best friends again. But that funny sinking feeling set inside my stomach - where did I go wrong?

We try so hard to avoid our children from having to deal with such predicaments - by making things easier and communicating by what we think is clear... but it happened anyway. The average scenario? - Like Virginia - questioning the truth about Santa, but here, we were challenged about "Mom" buying the gifts. Ironic isn't it?

And again, I wouldn't change anything. Because it helped Ava learn something about herself, others, and eventually will see that its apart of life - that if we love and respect each other, it's okay to believe differently...

If I had told her this - the true lesson would have been missed. And for this - I am grateful. Ah... I love the holidays...

p.s. When Noah got a new car while we were in Fredericksburg, he asked me if God made it for him. I told him no, it was made in China. He said, "but God gave it to me."


  1. Oh I tried to see the video but I couldn't. :(

    I loved this movie too.
    Well about Santa, I don't know really what to tell when the moment come. I don't believe him because I saw my mom with the gift when I was a child, but the fantasy for the children is beauty.

    Ohh I forgot I found you on Flickr, can you see?

  2. Oh, I've been struggling with this lately. My daughter is almost 5, and she's ready to know truth about everything -- everything is questioned, and everything deserves my thoughtful reply. But with Santa, I'm so torn.

    I want to tell her the truth -- that Santa is a pretend story that we tell to make the holidays fun, and that the purpose behind Santa is what's important: the generosity, the fun, the merry. And part of me wants her to know that when there's a present she's been begging for, her father and I were the ones to notice and provide it. And I worry that this 'Santa' culture sets our kids up to think God is some make-believe fairy tale told to kids in order to make them behave...just like Santa was.

    The other side of me worries about just what happened to you: what about when she tells her friends that Santa isn't real? I'm too nervous that my family and friends will be angry at me for spoiling their fun.

    I don't know what to do! We've never really played up the Santa angle. Hopefully it never becomes a big deal. Sigh.

    I seriously apologize for this incredibly long comment! Your blog is adorable, by the way :)

  3. This Heavenly Life - THANK YOU for contributing here with this lovely {no! never long} comment - I love it! And am so glad we can start a discussion here about this topic {and feel better that I'm not the only Mom out there with this on my mind}.

    I have torn myself a part about this issue all year - well, actually since Ava was born - and the anxiety always kicks in around Thanksgiving, when traditionally, we start "decorating for the holidays."

    My husband and I couldn't come up with a solution, so we both avoided and went with the flow. But like you, my daughter is the age now where she "remembers" - deciding how we were going to move forward with this - was either going to make/break the holidays {for either the kids or me first!}

    On the one side, we knew the right thing to do was to tell the truth - hands down.

    From the beginning, I have always felt I would be one of those moms who didn’t sugar coat anything, and would explain things as best to my ability - on any topic. Ava was upset when I told her there was no such thing as a tooth fairy. And although family argued that she’s too little - let her have some fun... I felt we still can have fun. By why does it have to be at the expense of something so bogus?

    On top of that, I can't put anything past my kids... their questions, "But how"... or "why is that?" is guaranteed, and then I'll dig myself so deep, I will have no choice but to surrender. And then where would that leave me? Mom lied? What else has she lied to us about? And so on....

    On the other side, we thought, what's wrong with A&N sharing in the "excitement" like millions of other little children around the world on xmas Eve - when they set out cookies and milk for "Santa" and then have that priceless expression on their face in the morning to see boxes under the tree.

    You see - what finally made me decide to tell her the truth is that some of the Christmas movies/cartoons play up the “believe” message too close to how we are teaching our kids about faith. Up until last year - the kids didn't ask where their gifts came from, and when family stopped by w/ gifts, it was quite obvious. But Dora, and her other favorites this time of year show Santa flying over head, dropping gifts through the chimney - and those who didn’t believe in Santa, or were naughty - didn’t get any presents.

    Or our favorite movie for the train effects - The Polar Express - it's all about "believing" especially in what we “can’t see” - and so the boy finally does because he sees how excited everyone around him is, and he wants to be a part of that too. So he says it over and over again, and ta-dah, Santa appears - he rides on the sleigh - and the rest is insanely dreamy.

    We talk about God often - I didn’t want this “time of year” to confuse faith with whimsy. So for my sanity sake - I had to shut the case on Santa coming down our chimney - so I jumped the fence and decided to go with the truth - now.

  4. And so far, it’s going over well. Just yesterday, while Ava was holding Zoe our dog in her arms, she said, “C’mon mom, let’s decorate for xmas so Santa will see it..” and I said, “Ava?!? For who? Is Santa real?” She looked at me with a grin, realizing what she said, and then repositioned Zoe in her arms so that she was just holding her body {4 legs out in front} and said, “ho-ho-ho” pretending Zoe was Santa. We both laughed so hard! She probably did forget for a split second, and really does want to “believe” in this pretend figure - but I’m proud of her for realizing, and making the best out of the situation.

    Then at dinner - a convo about God came up and Ava asked, “what does he look like? Where is He?” and then Noah, with his sweet 3yr old voice chimes in and says, “God is in my heart!”

    You see - it will be hard - but whatever you decide - do it with your entire heart. Because the holidays should be joyful for the entire family - not just the kids. They will quickly sense the stress, hesitancy, and eventually, the truth behind this day of the year.

    I think you're absolutely right for wanting your daughter to know that it was Mom/Dad who provided the thoughtful gift - I agree with this with my whole heart. Because I think this is where gratitude and appreciation comes into play, and teaches them about how their family dynamics work about gift giving. If you have been waiting to give her this gift until xmas morning - why not tell her, "because you have been so patient, and caring of others, Mommy and Daddy would like you to have this..."

    I think this is a much healthier scenario - as well as including our children in the gift making/shopping experience in the first place. How else will children understand the value of gift giving this time of year and reciprocation?

    I used a lot of my own childhood experiences to also help guide this decision - when finally, when the youngest in my family turned 18, we stopped exchanging presents entirely. Prior to that - oh, 5 years before that, having a preteen sister was very difficult to shop for. And my expression of "love" for them was out of control - because I really wanted them to have this or that... but life changes doesn't it? And buying your sister a treadmill for $700 because I knew she would absolutely love it, is great and all - but how do you top that? And then there's the in-laws... oh!

    Because I rarely spent time with them - shopping for them dried the spirit of the holidays for me, because I didn't get to put "my love" into it. What do you get for a sister-in-law you maybe see twice a year? Asking each other... hey, do you know what so and so wants, and then going out and buying it for them just to mark them off the list - didn’t give me that “joy” and purpose behind a meaningful gift.

    Now that I have kids of my own, I really had to dissect the past years, and remember those events that were memorable... and when I did, I found a common theme.

    Time. It was time that I remember the most. Whether I did something special with a member of my family - like Mom taking us window shopping at FAO Schwartz or to watch the skaters at Rockefeller center {we didn't actually get to buy/skate because it was too expensive} but it was being with Mom, and seeing beautiful things that have left a lasting impression on me.

    ...visiting family - where cousins, aunts, uncles, music and lots of food all collided in one evening - and it was bliss. Driving around town looking at xmas lights, with a thermos filled with hot cocoa and blankets over our laps and oohing and ahhing. Or opening a gift and receiving a hand knit sweater... All of these moments bring tears to my eyes, when I think back to the good 'ol days and how this was "magical" for me and my childhood. And it is this kind of magic that I want my kids to inherit too. Not Santa.

    I hope this helped in some small way - and again want to thank you for sharing. Please do let me know what you decide. And of course, have a merry Christmas!

  5. Hi Giozi! yes - I did see you on Flickr - thanks so much for visiting and commenting the photos! You are too kind :) I wonder why you can't view the video? It was a clip from the movie - the scene where the little girl finds her house :)


Thanks for sharing - I will respond to your comment here as well so check back! xo


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...