|Looking for the last of the presents.|
But then I snooped. Under the guest room bed, I found several items obviously intended for me, the only child in our extended family. There was at least a tennis racquet and a Monopoly game; those two items I can see clearly in my mind. On Christmas morning, I found a tennis racquet and a Monopoly game under the tree. From Santa.
The jig was up. I'd seen it coming, but it was still such a letdown.
I don't recall ever discussing it with my parents. I don't remember telling them that I knew the sad, disappointing truth. In my memory, I played along for years. I told myself that it was for my grandparents' benefit. My grandmother was and is a true fan of Christmas, and I didn't want to ruin the joy and fun by letting her know I was in on the secret. In reality, I think it was mostly for me. I loved to believe, and so I sort of did, even though I knew better. I still do, at least a little.
I love the whole idea--a dear, jolly man who brings gifts and spreads the Christmas spirit. I love the elves and the reindeer. I love Twas the Night Before Christmas. I love cookies and milk left out on Christmas Eve. I love full stockings. I love the anticipation. I love the excitement.
It's December 2012, and I have a third grader and a kindergartner. For the last couple years, we have wistfully remarked that this might be the last "real Christmas." The last one where they both believe. My eldest is a smart, curious child, full of questions and critical thinking. I can't believe we've gotten this far. He's also a creative, imaginative child, who wants to believe in magic and the fantastical, and that's why I think we have. I'll bet that there's a little part of him that doubts, but that most of him wants to believe. Please, let us have one more Christmas of the anticipation, the excitement, the milk and cookies.
I have gotten a few questions. I always answer that "I believe," and I don't think that's a lie. A little part of me still does. Santa is the joy, the feeling of love, the spirit of giving, the special sparkle on the month of December. I am immensely grateful that we've had so many "real Christmases," and I hope that once they are in on the secret, we can continue to believe together. To expect that magical and wondrous things can happen. That reindeer can fly. That a fat man in a red suit will fly around the world, delivering gifts to children everywhere. That, once a year, everyone is blessed with abundance and joy.
Yes, I believe.