We often forget the wonder of life is not what we imagine, but the love we have that fuels it… Last night I had the often dreaded “Santa” question from my 9 year old. As my daughter awaited in anticipation, as if she was ready to hear the answer to life, I read her that beautiful letter a woman wrote to her daughter explaining there is not just one Santa. She looked at me seriously and said, “What does that mean?” I told her “Santa” is all of us, collectively, continuing a tradition to bring joy to children all around the world. That we each are Santa at one point in our lives. The magic is in us, what we create for others. She was relieved, ecstatic. My daughter giggled as she explained how she figured it out, finding presents in her Daddy’s closet, and was worried her father would be upset if she knew. I told her of course not, so we called him. I brought him into the conversation because despite our divorce he is still a monumental part of this for her. He listened for a while, then asked, “Are you sad?” She said “Why would I be sad?” And the giggling continued.
We hung up and continued a 2 hour conversation. She felt so proud she was now part of the “secret”, the mystery, where she could be “Santa” too. She felt trusted with something important, powerful. She promised not to tell her younger siblings or friends and even talked about how she would act so they would not figure it out. She felt grown up that she could help wrap presents and hide eggs. It was one of the most beautiful moments as a parent I have ever had. She proceeded to unravel out loud all the doubts she had over the years about all the mystical being we filled her childhood with. That sometimes she got more money from the tooth fairy at Mommy’s than Daddy’s and it didn’t make sense. On and on, I witnessed the magic of her childhood unfold and relived. She said, “All those decorations you did”. I said, “Yes, it made me happy to make you happy”. She said Mommy, “It is even more special now that I know it is you”. I cried. How beautiful. We often forget our love is more powerful than anything, and how we show them is the most important part of their lives.
I ended with, “I will always tell you the truth, and you can ask me any question you want.” She said, “Thank you Mommy, I love you so much. Can we talk again tomorrow night?” “Of course”, as if we were a team with the wonder of the world between us. It felt as if we crossed a bridge to a higher level. I am so grateful I can be for her what I always wanted. We both went to sleep with a stronger bond, deeper than life…
Thank you for your letter. You asked a very good question: “Are you Santa?”
I know you’ve wanted the answer to this question for a long time, and I’ve had to give it careful thought to know just what to say.
The answer is no. I am not Santa. There is no one Santa.
I am the person who fills your stockings with presents, though. I also choose and wrap the presents under the tree, the same way my mom did for me, and the same way her mom did for her. (And yes, Daddy helps, too.)
I imagine you will someday do this for your children, and I know you will love seeing them run down the stairs on Christmas morning. You will love seeing them sit under the tree, their small faces lit with Christmas lights.
This won’t make you Santa, though.
Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch.
It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.
Santa is a teacher, and I have been his student, and now you know the secret of how he gets down all those chimneys on Christmas Eve: he has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy.
With full hearts, people like Daddy and me take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible.
So, no. I am not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too.
I love you and I always will.
Mama” Martha Brokenbach, 2009