Santa has been given a reprieve. It came at the last minute, unexpectedly.
My son has been full of doubts. Word on the playground is that there is no Santa Claus. Just parents pretending. It's been a struggle for my boy, navigating these strange waters between childhood and adolescence, deciding what gets left behind. Santa seemed like a sure bet this year.
"Mommy," he begins, "I know what I want for Christmas. The Lego Star Wars Death Star. It costs $400. online."
"$400?! Absolutely not."
"Your dad and I are not spending $400 on a Lego toy. It's small plastic pieces. Which will end up scattered through out the house by the next day."
"So, let me get this straight." He begins, pacing back and forth in front of me. Like a well trained defense attorney cross examining a hostile witness.
"You are saying that there is no Santa. That it's only you and Daddy."
"What? How do you get that from me saying 'No' to the Death Star?"
"You could have told me to ask Santa. But, you didn't. You just said no right away. Basically, you are telling me there is no Santa. Isn't that right?"
I want to sit on my hands so that he doesn't see me twisting them nervously about. What to say? There is a glint in the boy's eye. It could go either way. Do I officially kill off Santa? Immediately, denial clogs my throat. I want one more year of believing. One more year of childhood.
"Well, what do you think? Do you think Santa is real?", I ask taking the chicken way out. My little barrister to be shakes his head and walks away, ending the cross examination. He asked a few pointed questions. I squirmed on the seat. Clearly, I have something to hide, but this round he is unable to pull it out of me.
As December days fly off the calender I am sure that I'll not get my one more year. My son doesn't ask to go see Santa. No letters addressed to the North Pole are mailed. He's not even asking when he can hang the stockings and put up the tree. We are sure he doesn't believe, but is hesitant to confirm it for us. Probably thinks the gifts will dry up. And, for me, the season's festivities seem a little less festive. We knew this day would come, but it's difficult for my husband and I to get in the spirit. The economy has affected most everyone we know and is hitting us here in our home. It's not our turn to host the holiday, so I don't feel like decorating. And, by that I mean I don't feel like leaning out the window and shouting, 'Be careful' at my husband as he scurries around our roof, stringing lights. No surprise, he's fine with foregoing the light display.
Just when I was about to turn green, staple an antler on my dog's head and take to a cave, something snapped me out of it. Maybe, it was those kids on Glee singing the Who's from Whoville song. Maybe, it was the first snowfall. Whatever the reason, one night I found a Christmas movie on T.V., made some hot cocoa and snuggled on the couch with my boy. As we watch a new Santa struggle to master the chimneys, my son turns to me and says, "That's the thing about movies. They can't make the magic work for the chimneys like if it was the real Santa." He states this matter-of-fact. My heart takes a leap.
"Is that what you think makes Santa able to get down chimneys? Magic Dust or something?"
"Must be. But, like, if you're making a movie you can't get it. Only the real Santa has it."
"So, you do believe in Santa Claus?" I ask. Hopefully.
His eyes wonder to the side and his face turns thoughtful. He is seriously thinking about my question. Finally, he nods.
"I know some people say magic isn't real. And Santa's magic. But, I think it's o.k. if I want to believe in him. Because, they don't know. Maybe, there is somethings that are real magic."
I smile. Maybe, tomorrow another kid will spill the beans. Maybe, my son will come home and accuse me of being a liar. Like I did with my mom years ago. Maybe, maybe not. For now, I have marshmallows melting in my cocoa, Vince Vaughn on the T.V., and a little boy who believes magic exists in the world. Looking in his eyes, I believe it too.