There was no way — NO WAY — I was expecting this question in the middle of summer. But I am happy to report that my son has decided to be a Magic Keeper too. He’ll be joining us this year in keeping Christmas magic alive for his little sister, and we’re all actually really excited. Merry Christmas, friends! Kara
I remember carefully filling my son’s stocking last year, piling the gifts under the tree, trying to make sure everything was set out the way it was supposed to be, that we hadn’t forgotten anything.
This might be his last year of believing, I thought, but then I had thought that the year before too.
He’s such a logical kid, but there’s so many things he wants to believe in — including an actual Middle Earth, where hairy-footed Hobbits eat too much and protect a real ring.
And so, I never said anything. I waited, and I guess I planned a little.
But then yesterday, I overheard part of the conversation. My son wouldn’t let Neighbor Kid borrow his hammer to bust rocks.
We actually have a special rock-busting hammer, because rock-busting warps the hitty-part, so we have just one hammer reserved for that purpose and my daughter was using it.
“Can I use that one?” Neighbor Kid asked my daughter, “Because you’re brother is being a weenie.”
“I told you that I just don’t want this one damaged,” my son said, and I wondered from my eavesdropping spot in the kitchen if it was time to step in. Weenie? Really?
“Oh. That’s right,” said Neighbor Kid. “Because you got that one from ‘Saaaaaanta.’“
Here we go, I thought.
“Let’s go do something else,” my son said, and I thought the conversation was over.
But 15 minutes later he poked his head in the door and yelled for me.
With Neighbor Kid standing close he asked, “Mom? Is Santa real?”
Luckily, I had been getting into the shower when I heard my son call, so it bought me 15 minutes to draft a letter in my head.
I was kind of ticked at Neighbor Kid. I can’t figure out these little people who feel the need to ruin stuff for other kids, so I tried to find a way to include that into my conversation with my son.
He was already on top of it though. I emerged from the shower and told him we could talk in a few minutes.
“Mom? He gets bullied at school, and I think he’s trying to find a way to deal with that,” my son said.
Such a wise kid to know this hadn’t been about a hammer or Santa at all.
Still, I saw he was shaken.
That’s when I recalled Rachel’s post she shared at Easter about Magic Keepers.
So I sat down to organize my thoughts for a minute. The more I wrote, the more I decided that that’s exactly what we are — that we keep the magic going because we are Believers at heart. Believers in good, in bringing joy. We believe in generosity and giving, and that’s what makes the magic happen every year.
I know this approach may not be right for every family, but as we sat on the picnic table together, I found that it was just what we needed, so I’m sharing my letter to my son:
From the time you were teeny tiny, you have always been a really smart kid. You are smart enough to know that many things that we can’t see, hear or touch are real. Faith. Hope. And definitely love.
Today, someone told you that Santa isn’t real, and so I wanted to write you this letter to tell you more.
A long time ago, a man named Saint Nicholas helped the poor families in his village by giving them coins and gifts. He did this because he was generous and kind, and he wanted to bring people joy. Today, many people continue in the spirit of St. Nicholas by celebrating the tradition of Santa Claus.
When you were little, we chose to continue this tradition in our family, because Daddy and I are something called Magic Keepers.
You see, from the time you have been very young, you’ve been a Believer. Believers are wonderful! They don’t question whether things exist, because they know in their heart that it feels right to Believe.
Daddy and I were Believers too when we were young. And then, when we got older, someone came to us and told us we shouldn’t believe anymore. And so we had a choice to make. We could stop believing, or we could keep believing and become Magic Keepers.
Magic Keepers help to carry on all the best traditions because at heart, they still believe in them. They believe that Santa is about giving and generosity. And they know those things are really important.
Magic Keepers take a quiet oath to never ruin the magic for anyone else, young or old. They promise to continue the tradition by giving to others whenever they can, even if it isn’t Christmas. They do this because in their heart it feels right.
And it’s fun! Dad and I have gotten to surprise you every year by putting presents under the tree, and treats in your stocking. We’ve gotten to see the joy on your face as you discovered your gifts Christmas morning. We get to nibble the cookies you set out, leaving just a few crumbs the way Santa would.
I hope that this year, you will become a Magic Keeper too. I hope you will help us surprise your sister, if she is still a Believer. (And I hope she will be for a little while longer.)
I know sometimes it can feel a little sad as you make the transition from Believer to Magic Keeper, so let me know if you want to talk about this, OK?
I love you so much, Owen. And I know that like me, you’ll always want to be a Believer just a little bit. That’s OK. There is so much wonderful stuff out there to believe in.
Love, Mom and Dad
Now here’s the thing. I didn’t just give him the letter and take off.
I asked Owen if he would like to decide this year whether to just be surprised Christmas morning, or if he wanted to help us surprise his sister.
He’s going to think about it, although he’s very excited to get to carry-on this tradition.
We talked for a long time. (We were late to a July 4th barbecue. We never got the biscuits made for the strawberry shortcake.)
And then finally:
“Mom? Where did this all come from? Has our family always done this?” he asked. “Did your grandma do it? It seems like something your Grandma would have liked.”
He’s right. She would have. And certainly she did. In her own way.
(Many thanks to Rachel for sharing her experience and ideas, and helping me to find the words that brought my son comfort when he needed it.)