The Age of Not Believing

When Adam and I were first dating and discussing our future family, he questioned whether or not we wanted to "do" Santa with the kids. As a person who loves Christmas and the entire holiday season, I believe I gave him a "are you nucking futs?" look. Of COURSE we were do Santa. Why ever not?

Adam had a bunch of arguments against the whole Santa hoopla which I argued against. (And jokingly gave him the nickname "Scrooge.") We finally agreed to do Santa but keep the focus on Jesus (well, duh!) and if the children asked, we would tell them the truth.

I really never thought it would come to that. My siblings and I love Santa and waking up Christmas morning to find gifts under the tree. No one ever told us that Santa wasn't real but we gradually grew out of believing. However, I helped leave cookies for Santa even when I was in college. It's fun and, for me, part of the magic of Christmas.

Recently, we were watching Rudolph on DVD when Joseph asked me, "Mom, is Rudolph real?"

Glup. Way to cut to the chase, kiddo. Not wanting to say yes or no in front of his siblings, I said, "What do you think?"

(Joseph hates this question, by the way. He once looked at me in exasperation and said, "If I knew, I wouldn't have asked! Just tell me!")

"I think so. But, Mom, how does he get to every one's house?" I was silent and he answered, "I think the elves and the Elf of the Shelf help him." I made a non-committal noise and we finished the movie.

For the next few days, Joseph would say things like, "How does he make those toys? He can't make all of them!" and then answer his own questions.  I was quiet and listened- partly because his logic and reasoning was sound and I enjoyed listening to his thoughts. But, I couldn't bring myself to utter the phrase, "Santa isn't real."

Finally, one night, I was tucking him in and said, "Joe, do you remember the story of St. Nicholas?" He shook his head and I said, "St. Nicholas was a priest who lived a long time ago. Back then, girls needed money to be married and a family in his town didn't have the money to get married. As a surprise, he threw money down their chimney and it landed in their stockings."

His eyes flew up and he said, "That sounds like Santa! People got the idea from Santa from St. Nicholas!"

I nodded and said, "St. Nicholas was a really person who loved Jesus very much. He helped people and gave them presents because he loved Jesus. When we help others and show our love for them, we are showing them Jesus' love. You can pray to St. Nicholas an ask for his intercession." He seemed satisfied and changed the subject, which is his way of telling me that he wanted to think about what I said and not talk about it anymore.

The next morning, I gently reminded him that it was okay to talk about St. Nicholas but whether or not Santa is real is only for parents to talk about with their kids. He said, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that! You don't have to tell me; I'm not a baby!" Then he rolled his eyes. Turkey.

I'm not sure how this holiday season will play out. I really think he wants to believe in the magic but that his logical, black and white mind won't let him. Ever since our talk, he still seems happy and wants to put up the tree, ready for St. Nicholas to come. I hope that even though he's entered the "age of not believing" he will always believe in the miracle of Christ's birth.