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A few years after our first son was born, I suggested we start a new tradition in our family. Here I was 30 years old and my parents were still graciously playing Santa for all of us and our significant others. It seemed time to change things up once grandkids were added to the mix.
So I suggested that we grown ups start playing Santa for one another (while playing Santa for our own kids, too). The idea behind this is that we, as a family, believe in the idea of Santa. We believe that it's important and special to be excited. That it's exciting to surprise someone else with no expectation of them returning the favor.
And so we have adopted the thinking that as long as you believe in the idea of Santa, Santa still comes. But if you stop believing, he won't come.
Except for that Noah announced he is done. And that he thinks the grown ups do it all.
And he is right, of course. But that isn't the point. I always knew there would come that "a ha!" day when each of our kids figured it out. I remember mine distinctly. A Target price tag was left on one of my presents. And while there were a lot of unanswered questions about Mr. Claus I knew I had never seen him shopping at Target.
I spent a lot of time and energy this weekend trying to share with Noah that how it happens isn't the point. And in my frustration and anger at his absolutist approach to it all (I have NO idea where he got that!) I didn't come up with the right words.
But after my temper settled down a bit I talked to him again last night.
I told him it isn't about a man in a red suit or reindeer or even the presents. It's about the idea that there is goodness out there. That there might just be someone who wants to give to you without the promise or expectation of you giving back. It's about excitement and surprise and giving (not getting). And not about chimneys and flying reindeer. And each year, I choose to believe in those things.
I think he got it. He now says he believes in the idea of Santa.
And so do I.