It comes to every parent: that poignant, traumatic, heart-breaking moment when your first-born asks you to swear on your life that Father Christmas is real.
That moment arrived rather unexpectedly on the second to last day of our summer holiday. Henry, aged 10 and a half suddenly decided to ask the question. Time stood still. I stumbled, I stalled, I suggested we talk about it later, away from his 4 year old twin sisters. I watched, with aching nostalgia, as his face fell and he held back the tears.
There was no getting away from it so after a frantic, hushed conversation with his father we decided the time had come. What right did we have to lie when he’d asked with such honesty. His friends had stopped believing and he didn’t want to continue to believe if he’d look a fool.
The moment had come. Words failing me I did what comes naturally and looked for written words instead. Finding what is probably a well-used letter on the internet I rejigged it; let him read it alone; digest, while his parents mourned the end of his childhood. Pulling ourselves together we listened as he calmly asked questions; typical of our thoughtful son. There were tears, from all three of us and then a strange sense of relief that he had overcome his first childhood hurdle, been able to show emotion, ask thought-provoking questions and then physically mature before our very eyes.
He’s already planning how to make this Christmas special for his twin sisters and I know he’ll succeed. I’m so proud of him and although I feel I aged in just a few moments, I also know that as a family we took that next little step… and survived. Until the next time…
Here’s the letter I found, in the hope it might help you too.
Dear Henry xx
Hope this helps you understand. Don’t be sad xx
The answer is no. There is no one Santa.
We are the people who fill your stockings with presents. We also choose and wrap the presents under the tree, the same way our mummy’s did for us, and the same way their mummy’s did for them. (And yes, Daddy helps, too.)
I imagine you will someday do this for your children, and I know you will love seeing them run downstairs full of magic on Christmas morning. You will love seeing them sit under the tree, their small faces lit with Christmas lights.
This won’t make you Santa, though.
Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch.
It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents, and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.
Santa is a teacher, and I have been his student, and now you know the secret of how he gets down all those chimneys on Christmas Eve: he has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy.
With full hearts, people like Daddy and me take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible.
So, no, there is no Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. We’re on his team, and now you are, too.
And now it’s your turn to keep the magic alive for your little sisters. We love you xxx