JANUARY 2016 EDA INCLUSIVES
I’m thinking about the Spirit of Christmas and all that it
represents. For me this time of year has really been invigorated by
experiencing it with my child. The pure unadulterated joy and wonder of a child
seeing a garden of lights brighten up the night was just as magical for me as
it was for him - but for a whole other reason. Oh, to experience beauty with one’s
whole heart - no guard, no defense, just as wide open as a window to the poetry
of life. He ran from tree to tree, clasping his hands over his forehead as if
it was just too much to take in. He gasped and said "Mommy, this is just
more beautiful than my best dreams!" With each new color he said- "Mom!!!!
Turquoise!! It's BEA-UUU-TEE-FULL!" Then he would run to the next tree and
say "Mom!!! Yellow!! It's yellow!!! Your favorite color!! Can you just
I tear up now just remembering the moment. It was especially
sweet for me to see his joy as earlier that day we had one of those
conversations that as a parent I was just not prepared for.
We were driving to REI to do some winter coat shopping for our
Colorado trip. As usual, we were visiting in the car as I drove. Out of the
blue he asked me, "Mommy, is Santa Claus real?" The question made my heart stop. I stalled.
Lately Kase has been asking me a lot of hard questions about exactly how this
whole Santa thing works. Questions like, how does he know what all the kids
want? And, how does he make it to ALL of the houses? One morning when I was
going on about how I just could not believe the elf on the shelf wound up the
chandelier of all places, at the tender age of three after playing along whole
heartedly for several days he finally announced sagely, trying to break it to
me gentle – “the elf is just a toy, Mom. We are just pretending.”
Kase has always had a wonderful imagination - he plays for hours
pretending he is a bunny or a dragon, he becomes so lost in his play of make
believe. But he has also always has one foot very firmly planted in reality.
And I have loved this about him. My son is a mixture of strength and sweetness.
Intelligence and creativity - and he finds a balance intuitively to express
both these parts of him that I find utterly remarkable.
We have been talking a lot lately about listening to his inner
voice - his heart, his intuition, whatever you want to call it. I hope to raise
a child who has a strong connection to his inner voice - his own gauge and
sense of truth. It is the best guide as he grows older and finds himself in
those moments when I am away and unable to chime in. He will have countless
moral decisions to make as he grows outside of my watchful eye that will
involve things like weather or not to go along with peer pressure or how to
behave when no one is watching. I want him to develop a good relationship with
his intuitive inner knowing - all this crossed my mind when he asked me about
Santa. As excited as he has been about Santa - and he has been excited - I
could tell that something just hasn't added up to him. I remember last year he
didn't really believe in Santa, and it seemed like as he heard presents were
inextricably intertwined with Santa, he began to buy in. But I always wondered
if he was having to force himself to. There was just something about the way he
went into it this year that seemed a bit willfully credulous. It made me wonder
if he told himself "well, this is how I get presents, I'm gonna go all in!"
But the year has not only been filled with anticipation and glee for Santa’s
visit, but also peppered with probing and somewhat skeptical questions -
Finally he asked me a direct question about it.
I looked at him in the rear view mirror. His face was solemn. He
was asking for real.
"Well, what do you think, honey?" I said.
"I just don't know. I was wondering I guess" He
answered, looking down.
I took a deep breath. "Do you want the truth?"
"Yes" he said. "I want the truth, Mommy."
Holy crap. I was not expecting this. I had no idea what to do! To
be honest, I have hated lying to my child about Santa. I have no intellectual
problem with the whole Santa thing. It's sweet. It's fun. No harm done. But
still, it pained my heart every time he asked me a direct question about how it
all worked and I had to come up with a lie. I don't feel comfortable lying to
him - even about something as harmless as Santa. But I was going along with it
until I noticed there was an inner conflict going on inside him. Something
wasn't adding up for him he could not put his finger on, yet I was
participating in telling him to ignore that inner voice and just believe what
he was being told. Of course reindeer fly. Do the ones at the zoo fly? No -
just Santa's. How does he know what billions of kids want? Oh, well, he has a
huge list of all the kids in all the world. Yes, he gets to them all in one
night. Yeah, even in different time zones. Yup, the whole world. Yes, that is a lot houses. Well, magic.
As a side note, Kase and I have also been talking a lot about
lying lately. He has made up some fibs and I have stressed how important it is
that I can believe him so that I can trust what he says. He lives in a world
where fiction and play are so closely linked to reality - and I often find
myself asking him after he tells me a tall tale "oh? Is that what you
wished happened, what really happened?" I try to help him find a gracious way of finding that line between truth
and fiction. Creativity and lying. And finding the truth in his heart. So as
silly as it sounds, this thought smacked me in the face every time I told him
another lie about Santa. But Santa is innocuous. So how to handle this? I hadn't really
thought it through or prepared. I certainly wasn't going to spill the beans
this year. He had been enjoying all the Santa talk, even writing him a letter.
Children are so open and even hard wired to believe what their
parents tell them. They have to be. Their survival depends on trusting their
parents to teach them and guide them, in the early years especially. I take
this as a sacred duty. I didn't realize just how sacred I felt this
relationship of trust was until he asked that fateful question.
My mind drifted off as I drove, racing between the few options I
had here. Kase snapped me back.
"Well Mommy? Is Santa real? Like for real real?"
I took a deep breath
"No Kase. Santa is not real."
"What?!" He exclaimed. "He's not real?!" His
lip jutted out and his eyes brimmed with tears. I thought to myself - oh no!!
What had I done! I could not put this Genie back in the bottle!
"But Mommy! Why isn't he real? Why does everyone lie about
"Well, you know how we play make believe - and you pretend you’re
a baby bunny and I'm a mommy bunny and we eat invisible lettuce in your room?
And how fun that is? Well, it's fun for mommies and daddies to pretend with
their kids about Santa in the same way. Everyone has fun. It was based on a
real story - there was once a man named Saint Nicholas who gave out presents to
kids in his village a long time ago and taught people what it meant to give
without expecting anything in return and what a gift that was in its self. The
story of Saint Nicholas spread and grew from there." I think I had read this somewhere. I was
grasping at straws and winging it here.
"But how do I get my presents? Who gets them for me?"
"Well, mommy and daddy do." I said gingerly. "You
will still get presents." Then sensing an opportunity the way mothers do,
"But Christmas isn't about Santa or gifts anyway, Kase. It's
about the Magic the season brings - the joy, the open hearted kindness it
inspires, and what the holiday is actually about."
We visited about the real meaning of Christmas for a while, but
soon he came back to the whole Santa thing. He was really upset.
"No no no - But Mommy, I sat on Santa’s lap - remember?” Ugh.
Yeah. I remembered. Oh how tangled this whole Santa web is we weave.
"Well, he is not the actual Santa. Very nice people sit in
as Santa, to represent the one that might have been around a long time ago.
They listen to your wishes and help the mommies and daddies know what presents
you want to help keep the spirit of Christmas alive."
I checked his face in the rear view mirror, his eyes were
brimming with tears and he was really searching for how on earth to react to
"But I want him to be real! Can he be real Mommy?"
"Yes, you can choose to believe in him. I'm fine with that.
It's up to you."
"Ok Mommy. I think he is real."
My heart broke. Had I done the right thing? Did I just ruin
Christmas and break my 4 year olds heart and take some innocence away from him?
Or did I do the right thing and unwaveringly tell him the truth? I hope I did
the right thing. I hope somewhere in my sons brain he adds 3 things up. 1) To
listen to his inner voice and ask questions. 2) To know I will always tell him
the truth in life. Even hard ones. 3) To feel free to choose to believe what he
So all this was running through my head when I took Kase to see
the Holiday light display at Cheekwood later that night. Would it be the same?
Would he still have the childhood magic? Would he love it?
Much to my relief - Kase was beyond thrilled and enchanted and
reached such a state of rapture that my mom heart finally relaxed - a little.
"Mom, I feel the Christmas spirit!! It's so beautiful! I
just can't believe it! The Christmas Spirit is REAL!"
I still don't know if I did the right thing. It happened too fast
and I just winged it. I'm sure there will be harder things in the future that
I'm unprepared for - but all I can say is that good, bad or otherwise, I felt
in my heart for what I thought was right at the time. That's all I can hope my
son does in his own life. We won't always get things right. We may even hurt
each other along the way. As long as our intentions are pure, despite any
twists in the road, we will always find our way closer to one another.
Post Christmas Update:
Kase had a wonderful Christmas - one with Ty in Texas and another
here in Telluride with me and my dad and Lee. He is back to believing in Santa and has not asked more about it. As for me, I had a thrill watching his pure
child's heart soak in the real magic of Christmas. His heart filled with wonder,
head bent back, catching snowflakes in his open mouth, making snow angels,
baking pies, and helping decorate the tree.
I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday, here is to joyous New
Kase and I skiing with my dad Atz
This years tree
Kase finds Santa's gift in the fireplace
Kase at Cheekwood Botanical Garden's Holiday Light Show 12/14/15 in Nashville.