When our middle child was in 1st grade he grilled me on the existence of Santa Claus. He looked me square in the eyes and said, "Mama, have you EVER, I mean EVER
, bought, wrapped, and signed a present to me "from Santa?" Well, I am a terrible liar, I just can't do it, even to protect others, I just can't. He immediately knew the answer and became so mad, and rightfully so, at all the deceit, the complete fabrication of his favorite holiday. Thankfully, my mom had explained Christmas spirit in such a way that I have never lost the enthusiasm that I had as a child, in fact, I learned that it is possible to keep it all year.
Here is how I remember the translation of Santa Claus, to Christmas spirit and passed it on to our boys: When children are very young, they understand things as concrete, tangible, something we see, touch, hear, smell, and taste. When we celebrate Christmas, we play with all the most wonderful sensations imaginable, the twinkling lights, the flannel pajamas and furry Santa hats, the Christmas carol sing alongs, the cinnamon and orange scents, and most rich candies and cookies. It takes all of this to create training wheels for something so incredible, powerful, and wonderful that cannot be directly felt by any of our senses in the way we can measure. But what is felt in our hearts, are the joys that come from these. The immeasurable joy and connection that comes from sharing this celebration is directly connected to the spirit we cannot otherwise know. We let Santa Claus and all the hopes and dreams he fulfills represent spirit until kids are old enough to understand it and spread it without needing to physically hold these gifts.
When our son absorbed all this information, he turned pale and told me he had let everyone in his class know that there was no Santa. He said, "Mama, I've made a terrible mistake. My friends are not ready for this yet, they still need to believe in Santa." I was stunned and speechless, trying to imagine what all of the other parents were dealing with during their ride home from school. Before I could formulate a plan, he said, "I am big enough to tell them all that I was wrong. I will tell them that there is a Santa and I had no idea what I was talking about. They may all be mad at me and that's ok, they just need to keep believing."
As we prepare for the holidays, let us feel the spirit of love, joy, and oneness in new ways, like a child experiencing glory and richness for the first time, through the excitement of all the senses.