BY KATIE MOOSBRUGGER
It was seven years ago this month, but I remember it like yesterday. My kids were ages seven and four at the time. We had five weeks until Christmas, and I was grasping at straws on how to contain the magic. Here was the narrative:
I was out shopping with my kids and my daughter’s friend, who for the sake of anonymity, we’ll call Sally. Sally, who is seven years old like my daughter, is a sweet girl who has an older sibling and just happens to know a little bit more about life than I want my daughter to know—at least for now.
On the way home I was feeling festive, so I popped in a Christmas CD, and my daughter squealed, “Oh, my gosh, they’re already playing Christmas music on the radio!” After that, there was some chatter from the back of the van which I couldn’t make out, and then I heard my daughter, Emily, exclaim, “What? How can you not believe in Santa? I’ve heard the jingle bells from his sleigh on my roof, AND I’ve heard the scratches from his reindeer. Even my mom said she’d heard the same thing when she was my age! How do you explain that?”
Sally replied, “I don’t know. I just think it’s our parents who bring us presents, not Santa.” As soon as I heard that, I turned off the CD and tried to change the subject. But my efforts were thwarted.
After a brief—and random—effort to talk to Sally about her new dance class, Emily—from out of nowhere—asked Sally, “Do you want me to teach you the Ten Commandments?” I about crashed into the car in front of me! You see, it’s not like Emily to talk religion, but she’s immersed in her First Communion Readiness classes—and is loving them—so I wasn’t completely shocked to hear her bring this up.
So Sally replied by saying she didn’t need to know the Ten Commandments, because she doesn’t go to church. And then Emily started arguing that she does need to know them. So I stepped into the conversation and said, “Sally, that’s OK, but Emily just learned them and wants to recite them.”
At which point Sally responded, “But I don’t believe in God.”
I think there was a collective hush in my mini-van, and then my four-year-old son – of all people – chimed in and exclaimed, “WHAT? You don’t believe in God? What…do you think that some builder guy came in and made Earth out of nothing? Do you think that some builder guy came in and created people and animals???”
Holy cow…this conversation was going places I did not foresee, nor did I know how to manage them!
With that, my daughter added, “Yea, and if you don’t believe in God and Santa, then you probably don’t believe in the Easter Bunny either. But I KNOW you believe in the Tooth Fairy, because it was just at your house!”
That was the end of that conversation and the beginning of my fears that the enchantment won’t last forever. For those of you in the midst of it, enjoy it now and relish it for all it’s worth. It’s truly a magical time that lingers briefly, but creates memories for a lifetime.