Thursday, 9 May 2013
I am a big fan of Christmas and ALL it entails; so much so that I’ve decided to write about Christmas in May! But truth be told, most of the stuff we do at home now was gleaned from years of watching Christmas special movie marathons. For me, growing up, Christmas was disconcertingly confusing: Christmas with my Catholic mother meant going to endless church services, a lot of hymn singing and praying so my soul didn’t burn in hell; whilst it was a TOTAL non-event when we moved in with my Buddhist father after the divorce. No wonder I was flummoxed.
So, when I became a mother, I felt certain I wanted MY children to experience all the magic Christmas has to offer – especially the part about believing in the possibility of the magical. As such, it’s a REALLY big deal in our home (wherever we may be), with carrots for the reindeers, cookies and milk for Santa and secret present buying that starts soon after the northern hemisphere summer holidays! I told you I was a fan!
Anyhow, a few days before Christmas few years ago, one of my three girls asked me the question most parents dread: “Mom, have you ever seen Santa? I mean REALLY seen him?” I considered fibbing but then confessed I had not. Which prompted the next question: “Then, how do you know he’s real?” At that stage, I think the girls were around 5, 6 and 9 and were at an age where they wanted to believe, but some of the kids at school with older siblings had started bursting all sorts of ‘bubbles’. So, torn between wanting to maintain their childhood innocence and yet arm them with the tools required to not to be bullied by any mini cynics, I waxed lyrical about how certain things in life required a leap of faith and a blind trust. Fairies, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy all also fell into that magical ‘box’. But Miss 6-at-the-time required a more plausible answer. And that’s when I pulled out my made-up-on-the-spot explanation for everything magical and it went a little like this:
“Okay, you know how we all know we need oxygen to live because of the important work it does to help different parts of our bodies work and heal? Well, you cannot see oxygen, right? You cannot touch it nor can you smell it. But you know it exists all around you. For me, Christmas is the same. Just because I cannot see physical proof, doesn’t mean isn’t real.” I waited for my munchkins to digest this information when my eldest mentioned that some of her friends had teased her about believing in magic and Christmas and the letters she was still getting from the tooth fairy (which incidentally stopped after she turned 10 because all teeth collected after that would be too heavy for the fairies to carry). Yes, yes, I know.. the tales we weave! Anyhow, I talked about how in order to see the magical, you need to be open to recognizing and seeing the magic; that as we grow up, because life can get very busy and crazed, it can be hard to remember to look for magic. Then I concluded that Christmas was the perfect time to believe in magic and because I did (in spite of being a ‘big person’ as we referred to me when they were little), my Christmases were always a little bit more special – but that the choice was theirs to believe as they chose. I saw three little heads nod. I did conclude the talk to forewarn them to not feel discouraged if their friends didn’t believe in the magic of Christmas because we each had to make our own choices. Again, three nods.
Of course, now that my three girls are now nearly 10, 11 and nearly 14 respectively, their ‘head’ knows that its mom who starts reconnaissance shopping months before the big event (cue squeals of delighted “How did Santa know I had wished for this fill-in-the-blanks?!?”) but the heart still partakes in the feeding of the reindeer and Santa the night before while I try to find new ways to prolong the magic of their childhood for just a little bit longer – for them to have the childhood memories of Christmas I didn’t have – and because it fills ME up with an indescribable joy… Yup, I CANNOT wait to put up my Christmas tree in 7 months time!!
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