so christmas is today/tomorrow, and i’ve spent the last month or so listening to my child robotically say, “i want that, i want that, i want that” during commercials, while walking through stores & as she flips past advertisements at the end of comic books.
i’ve jotted down the items she’s mentioned, doing my best to discern the things she truly wants from the things that have been advertised effectively, and in most cases using my phone to immediately order her wishes to ensure they arrive before christmas.
thanks to the frequency with which i’ve heard her ask for certain things, i know she’s gonna be pretty fucking excited to see the car maker she insisted she needed, and that she’s probably gonna lose her mind when she tears the wrapping paper off of the remote controlled race car set (i’m also pretty worked up about that one myself.) she’s guaranteed to love everything else, including the books and the candy, and possibly even the clothing that i picked out, even though she didn’t actually tell me she wanted it.
and santa’s gonna get most of the credit for all of my hard work, which is fine for now because i know that someday she’ll realize it was i who was santa, and maybe she’ll come to appreciate me a bit more.
the thing is, she’s a bit too practical sometimes and as a young lady with a well-developed sense of skepticism, she asks all the right questions about santa.
“how does he see everything?”
“how does he deliver presents to everyone in the world in one night?”
“why is there more than one santa?”
“does santa die? ask your phone (siri).”
(the results of that search were too depressing so i used a bit of compassionate deception and said no, to which she responded, “he’s a person! all people die someday!”)
and sometimes she makes statements that secretly make me really happy, because i love to see my child questioning everything:
“reindeer can’t fly.”
“no one can fit down a chimney.”
“santa’s not real.”
“there’s no such thing as magic.”
and still, she wants to believe.
and of course, i want her to maintain some magical thinking around the idea that it’s perfectly acceptable for an old, fat stranger to break into homes and deliver presents to children he’s spent all year watching from a distance, because what would a childhood be without that?
but then sometimes shit gets really difficult.
while we were in the car, maddy again asked several of the usual questions about santa and christmas.
then the subject turned depressing.
“i really wish my friend maddie and my mommy weren’t dead.”
and suddenly i knew where she was going with this.
“i wish santa could make my dead family and friends alive again.”
how do i help her maintain her innocence with statements like that?
how do i respond to that, knowing it’s never gonna happen?
how do i keep santa from looking like an uncaring, materialistic asshole who only cares about toys and presents instead of what really matters, especially someday when she old enough to know that i was santa?
i said the only thing i could think to say:
“so do i.”
because i realized something as i searched my brain for a response.
she didn’t ask for it to happen, because her skepticism and everything i’ve taught her about my system of beliefs (science) means that she knows it’s impossible to bring people back from the dead.
what she did was different…
she simply wished for it to happen.
and wishing for something is way different than actually thinking it will happen.
so i’ll continue to teach her the things i believe, while doing my best to maintain some sense of mysticism around the idea of santa.
because she’s already lost out on a lot of her childhood innocence, thanks to things neither one of us could control.
i’m gonna let her have this.
and santa’s bringing her extra presents this year.
(oh. as maddy’s sign to santa indicated above, this year we’re spending christmas camping in a tent up in big sur, which should be a pretty weird way to spend the holiday. more on that soon, but we’re already on our way.)