These Are The Days

Smart ~ Writer ~ Mom

The Other Side of Magic

I had just tucked her into bed a few minutes earlier. Carefully brushing her hair aside, I kissed her cheek and tucked the covers in on both sides. We said, “Goodnight. Happy dreams” – our usual nighttime send off, and I turned out the lights. She seemed deep in thought but it was getting late and I had some work to finish up.

No sooner had I logged in to my computer than I heard her coming down the stairs. She was quiet and her face was rather serious.

She approached me and asked, “Mom, is Santa real?”

Gut punch.


How do I handle this so I don’t shatter what’s left of her fleeting childhood?

OK I know in the grand scheme of things this isn’t really a big deal. There are so many other things going on in the world that matter so much more. But right now, in this moment, it’s important to me BECAUSE it’s important to her.

My sister and I (1978)

Christmas – 1978, with my sister

A little history.

I had a wonderful childhood filled with special memories. And I’ve always said that if I can give my girls half of the happiness I experienced as a kid, then I know they’d have a great childhood, too. For me, Christmas was one of those magical times.

But she’s ten. She’s not a little girl anymore. Turns out it was one of her friends that spilled the beans. She wasn’t mean about it, but I think her friend was really surprised that my girl didn’t know THE TRUTH.

OK so she’s asked me the question. And it hung in the air in an uncomfortable silence. I smiled in a feeble effort to look unfazed, but my mind raced. What do I say? How do I handle this? Why can’t I channel the right words to ease the pain my little girl is clearly feeling at the thought that what she truly believes in her heart – what we have lead her to believe since day one – is not true? I instantly felt guilty for the whole thing.

To be honest, I can’t quite remember all of what I said. But it started with me turning it back on her with the standard, “Well, what do YOU think?”

Eventually, she asked if it was the parents who bought Christmas gifts. I answered her truthfully. But then we talked about Christmas not really being about gifts at all.

We talked about the spirit of Christmas and how maybe this is what Santa represents.
We talked about the magical feelings of excitement, anticipation, joy and wonder that are all part of the holiday season.
We talked about how wonderful it feels to give … not just receive.
And we discussed that while you can’t see love or happiness or joy, it doesn’t mean they aren’t real.

In the end, I told her that I believed in Santa and I hoped she did too.

And Lord help me, I even pulled up a copy of the editor’s response to Virginia from way back in 1897.

I told her that parents help to bring about some of the magic that is the Christmas season. We try, but often, grownups get so caught up in getting their kids the latest, greatest, most expensive whatevers that it gets out of control. We don’t intentionally overspend. But we do.

So I felt sort of hypocritical. Here I was talking about magic and wonder and the spirit of giving. And yet I’m the one that wants to get our girls more, more, more.

And then my girl surprised me. The tears in her eyes were no longer sadness. Instead, they were tears of gratitude.

She said, “Thanks for making my childhood so magical.”

I swear to you I’m not making this up. I shook my head as if to clear my ears figuring I hadn’t heard her right. “What did you say?”

“Thanks for making my childhood so magical.”

You’re welcome, sweet girl. You’re welcome.

xmas eve and day 2004 024

Her first Christmas, 2004.



  1. โ€œThanks for making my childhood so magical.โ€ (adoring sigh here; O’s just wonderful). You’ve done your job and done it well, Kim.

    • Kim

      September 2, 2014 at 8:52 pm

      Oh thanks Carol. It was quite an evening. She cried in sadness and disappointment and then she realized that she’s growing up. And she cried because of that, too. (and of course we went shopping for training bras today – so that didn’t help the whole growing up thing!). But when she realized she could be part of the whole making magic thing, she thought it was kind of cool.

      And now I need a giant bottle of wine.

  2. Tears. Oh my goodness.

  3. Kim, for those of us who must still cross this bridge with three of our own…we salute you. You have made me shed a few tears, but have inspired this dad that it is possible to be honest, yet still preserve the magic.

  4. Mom and Dad (Nana and Papa)

    September 4, 2014 at 1:34 am

    WOW!!!!!!!!!! Great Job Kim, what a wonderful mother and daughter you are!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Mom and I never cease to be overwhelmed with the way our children handle all sorts of situations, we are so proud and fortunate to have the family we have.

    With all our love and support.

    Mom and Dad ( Nana and Papa)

  5. I remember going through that with my son. As a parent, you want the magic to last. We kind of relive the excitement through our children. How wonderful that your daughter saw the positive side of the truth instead of the negative. btw…I miss you on wordpress.

    • Kim

      September 9, 2014 at 2:37 am

      Thank you! And thanks for your kind words. Honestly I dont know if I can get my posts on wordpress and my self hosted site on WordPress. Is that possible? I just wanted more flexibility but I hope I didnt lose anybody. I need to follow your blog via my email too. I enjoy your writing as well!

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