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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Do you believe in Santa?

We were in the car driving to school this morning and Ryan was playing Christmas music.  There was singing and laughing as Bing Crosby brought out lyrics to songs we had either forgotten or never heard before.

And I don't know how it came up in the conversation, but at one point Ryan jokingly said "I don't think Santa visits Cairo."  And I was absolutely horrified.  My heart actually jumped into my throat a bit, a mixture of the audacity of such a statement mixed with, don't let Q hear that, and my inner child's desire to keep believing after all these years of knowing the truth.  (I'm the sap that still cries every time that bell shows up under the Christmas tree in The Polar Express.)

So I turned to him very seriously and said, "Of course he does, Santa goes anywhere that has people who believe in him."

And my poor husband, who knows me so well, took one look at my face and said "You're right, of course Santa comes to Cairo."

This led to a discussion in the car of when each of us found out the truth, ie, when the real magic of Christmas was lost.

Ryan was six (my serious, logical guy), Nick was eight (caught his dad leaving presents under the tree) and I don't remember exactly how old I was, but I do remember that Christmas perfectly.  I remember opening the gift marked "From Santa" only to find a present inside that I had snooped out in my mom's closet a few weeks beforehand.  Sorry Mom!  And I know that opening the present was just a clincher of doubts that had been gathering in my mind for the past year.  But what I remember the most about that moment was how the magic evaporated instantaneously.  The excitement writing out a Christmas list, the struggle to fall asleep on Christmas eve, the way I listened for the bells on Santa's sleigh whenever I woke up in the night.  And most of all that rush of pure joy on Christmas morning to race to the tree and see what he'd brought me.  It was all gone.

I went through the motions the next year, mainly for my family's sake.  Pretending I still believed, but with the magic lost, my heart wasn't really in it.

And as the years went by, my love of Christmas gently evolved into a desire to believe, instead of a child's innocent faith, I now had an adult's yearning to restore the magic that had been lost.  So I watch Christmas movies and tear up, I listen to carols and let them stir that part of the heart that can only be brought to life with cookies and hot cocoa, ornaments and stockings. And most of all, yes I will be telling my son about Santa Claus.  I will perpetuate the myth because I still want to believe.  There's nothing in the world that can replace the memories of all those years. They were a gift of magic, excitement, anticipation and pure innocent joy.

Do I want that for Q, even if it's only for a short time?  Absolutely.  So Santa, we're going to be in Japan this year for his first Christmas.  His penmanship is a little lacking at the moment, but he told me he'd like a new book and some big boy shoes.  We'll be listening for your sleigh bells, and the milk and cookies will be on the table.


  1. Lovely photo of your little guy! I applaud you in continuing the magic. I set out a village each year just for that reason. The imagining and the belief in magic and giving must fill some gap in us. Adults who never had that 'Christmas magic' seem to always miss it. Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas to you and your family!
    To see my village on one of my blogs:

  2. Thanks! I'll have to check out your village, sounds charming. :)