For the last 2 years Jack would not come within 10 feet of Santa. When we would look down upon him and his merry elves from the second floor of our local shopping mall Jack would back away from the railing.
This year was shaping up to be no different. He wouldn’t look at him, he clammed up when we got near and he kept trying to use me as a human shield. After listening to much lively Internet chatter about whether or not to tell your kids Santa is real I decided to try something radical.
Jack loves Halloween (Calloween). Jack thinks zombies, giant gorillas, and the friendly neighborhood Batman are all cool cats.
“Jack, you know the Santa at the mall? He’s just a nice man in a costume, like Halloween.”
Jack looks at me inquisitively.
“Santa at the mall; he’s just playing pretend. So he’s not scary, because it’s pretend. Right?”
So after this conversation took place a week or so ago, when we went to see Santa I reminded Jack, that Santa is just a nice man in a costume. We got in line. We wrote our letter. We walked through the golden gates into Santa’s consumer-based lair. Jack did not use me as a human shield. He marched right up to Santa and gave him a fist bump. Then he gladly sat on his lap and explained that he wanted a rocket ship for Christmas. Later Santa reminded Jack (and Henry, who just sat on my lap clinging to me like cellophane when I am trying to wrap up my freshly baked Christmas treats) to put out cookies, but not too many.
Jack told Santa “Then you will come down my chimney, into my house.”
Whether Jack was playing pretend too, or he was really starting to believe it it didn’t seem to matter to me. He was making a memory and having a good time. I’m not worried about the truth, yet.
But if he ever asks me, whether or not Santa is real I doubt I will try come up with an elaborate story to help keep the dream alive. I may or may not hedge my bets with a “What do you think?”. I suppose I won’t really know until the time comes, and hopefully the same sort of divine inspiration will come again and I will tell him just what he is ready to hear.