It wasn’t long until my 9-year-old was taking a flying leap onto my bed, hardly able to contain himself.
Had he broken family tradition and gone downstairs alone to see what Santa had left under the tree? Nope. He’d found a quarter under his pillow.
This was no normal Christmas morning: my children awoke to evidence that both Santa and the Tooth Fairy had visited our house.
She didn’t forget Mom! The Tooth Fairy came!
When it comes to believing in Santa, the Easter Bunny and the like, my 4th grader walks a very fine line. On one side is the “grown-up” world of alarm clocks and responsibility, of studying for science tests and being expected to clean your own room, thankyouverymuch. On the other side is innocence. Childhood. Wanting, sometimes desperately, to believe.
I walk that fine line too. Some days I tiptoe toward the truth. When my children ask questions about Santa being real, you’ll sometimes hear me tell them that he is… as long as we believe. Other days I’ll read them “The Night Before Christmas” and entertain their fantasies about sleigh bells in the snow. Santa’s watching, I’ll tell them when they misbehave.
If I’m guilty of sending mixed messages, so is our culture. At 9, my son is surrounded by pressures and influences that I was naive of at his age. While he and his friends are fluent in the language of tweenage texting and social media, my friends and I were passing notes to each other on the sly. We weren’t exactly innocent— we knew all the raunchy lyrics and suggestive dance moves of Grease by heart— but it truly was a different time.
Maybe that’s why I was thrilled this morning to hear the excitement in his voice, to see how he so proudly displayed that shiny new quarter to his younger siblings.
Santa and Tooth Fairy double duty was a gift to me too this Christmas. It’s likely the last time he’ll stand on that line between childhood and the grown-up world when he still truly wants to believe.
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