One day S asked me about whether Santa is real again. She said, “Mommy, I know witches are not real. Fairies are probably not real, either, because nobody can be that small. But what about Santa? Is Santa real? Or is he like tooth fairy, just mommy pretending?”
I was doing dishes and, on hearing that, paused a couple seconds, “What do you think?”
(Actually, every time I would ask her what she thought. But this time it was a little different on her part. Instead of a definitive “yes,” she said something in a more thoughtful way.)
“Santa must not be pretend. Is that right? But that’s not possible. He’s not real, right? I hope he’s real! I want him to be real. He can still be real…” she analyzed, half for me to hear, half to reassure herself, “What do you think, mommy?”
“You go with what your heart feels.” I didn’t press on either ways. I would really just like her to not only be able to reach her own conclusions (which she already did, without willing to accept) but also be able to accept what she already knew emotioanlly.
“OK, Santa is still real. He can be real.” She said half with relief, half knowing mythology is safe even with facts known.
Then, she went ahead to talk about how she thinks Santa should use the front door to get out because it would be too hard to climb up the chimney…
I smiled, half to her, half to myself.
Just like the tooth fairy, one day she’ll eventually figure out and be able to accept — but, like last time with the tooth fairy, she’ll still be able to unpack love. Love that can take the form of a fairy, or Santa, or a mom, or all parents to their kids in the world. One day she’ll also pack such love up and pass it down to her kids and them, the generations to come.