Santa Claus isn’t a lie but a vision . . .
of magic, of hope, of generosity, of dreams . . . of love."
Here is a favorite Christmas essay, back from when my boys were small. It's one of those that I've saved in a big notebook to re - read every year and seems particularly appropriate this December when magic and hope and the heart of childhood have been so ruthlessly attacked. Author, Maureen Devlin Carroll offers us a way to keep on hoping. Even after the passage of seventeen years, it seems that her essay might have been written yesterday.
by Maureen Devlin Carroll
Driving my eight year old son Matt, and his friend home from school the other day, I heard them wrestling with the logistics of how Santa reaches every child’s home on Christmas Eve. “He couldn’t possibly get from Alaska to Australia to your house and my house in one night, could he?” asked Matt’s friend. Both boys fell silent. That's when it struck me. This was the last Christmas that Matt was gong to believe a fat man in a red suit squeezes down our chimney each year to leave presents under the tree.
In a rush, I remembered when my best friend told me the terrible truth about Santa. “Its just your parents pretending to be Santa Claus,” she announced one day on the way home from school. I stormed in to my house, determined to extract an explanation from my mom, “Why did you lie to me?” I asked furiously. I just didn’t get it.
Now that I’m a parent, I do get it. And I wanted my son to understand why I also chose to lie to him -- quite elaborately at that -- about Santa Claus. But I wanted him to hear it from me first, in a gentle and loving way. So I wrote this letter.
You were born the week before Christmas and I couldn’t wait to introduce you to the joys of the season, not the least of which was Santa Claus. Now, all too soon, I know you’ll be asking tough questions about jolly old St. Nick. This letter is to help you understand why I lied to you about Santa Claus.
I wanted you to believe that the world can be magical. When you grow up, you’ll be busy working and paying bills, doing chores and making decisions. It will be a struggle to discover the magic in your everyday life. It will be there, but it will be harder to find than it was when you were small. Maybe your memories of magical Christmases past will motivate you to keep searching.
I wanted you to believe in the possibility of a perfect tomorrow. When you’re experiencing tough times, try to recall waking up on a Christmas morning when everything was just as you had wanted it. Maybe that memory of perfection will help you to continue to hope.
I wanted you to experience the good will of a person you’d never met, who lived for nothing more than to make millions of children happy. (Someday I hope you’ll do something for someone who needs help, whether you know him or not, whether it's offering a warm blanket or a kind word). May Santa’s generosity inspire you to become a more giving human being.
I wanted you to know that your dreams can come true. When you’re older there will always be people telling you what you can't do, what won't work. They’ll tell you that the numbers don’t add up. They’ll list all of the obstacles that stand in your way. Maybe the memory of Christmas morning when your first dream came true will help you believe in your other dreams and you’ll continue to work to make them happen.
I wanted you to know how much you were loved. Santa Claus always knew exactly how to make you happy. When you get older you’ll find that loving people means caring very much about their happiness, knowing what they need from you, and trying your hardest to give them the best of yourself. I hope that knowing how you were loved--how you are loved -- will inspire you to love well.
So you see, Santa Claus isn’t a lie but a vision. A vision of magic, of hope, of generosity, of dreams and most importantly, of love.
Merry Christmas, Matt
by Maureen Devlin Carroll
from Parenting Magazine, 1995
Frosted to resemble Christmas Puddings!