My husband and I don’t exchange gifts for Christmas.  People are sometimes shocked when they hear this but the truth is I don’t want for anything.  I have a wonderful family, good health, great friends and throughout the year, when and if I need something, I don’t even have to think twice. 

But that doesn’t mean I don’t receive gifts. 

Christmas is tomorrow and the kids are all but bursting with excitement.  This morning Son No. 2 came downstairs rubbing his eyes, his warm body still wrapped in his comforter.  Santa comes tonight! he exclaimed sleepily a smile lighting up his face. 

I picked him up in my arms and twirled around while kissing his cheek. “Yes he is!” I replied. His excitement was contagious.

Son No. 1 is at an age where his belief in Santa is waning.  His friends at school have told him it’s not magic, it’s parents pretending.  When he came home and asked me, I answered his questions with questions.

Is Santa real mummy? 

Do you think he’s real honey?

Some of the kids don’t believe in him.

But just because someone doesn’t believe, does that mean it’s true?

It staved off his questions but his belief is tenuous at best. In my heart I know this will be the last time we can squeeze the magic of Santa into his Christmas.  By this time next year, he’ll know the secret and will hopefully keep it for his younger brother, not blurting it out in a moment of anger.

I did everything I could to keep the magic going for as long as I could….hand written letters from Santa, making reindeer footprints in the snow where we had laid out our magic reindeer food, even leaving a torn piece of red fabric caught in the corner of our fireplace one year.  This is not done altruistically, on all levels it’s my own unadulterated selfishness.

I made it last as long as I could because having kids brought the magic of Christmas back to me.

When you’re a child, Christmastime is magical. But as we grow from child to adult, that magic is lost – for many, not just the Christmas magic, but the magic that surrounds us each day.  Life becomes about doing, working, getting, making.  We have routines and chores, demands on our time and end of day exhaustion.  The holidays become a time of stress – baking, cooking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping, decorating – the magic is lost.

Then you have a child and teach them about a jolly old man who makes millions of gifts at the North Pole, helped by a slew of little elves, and flies around the world one evening a year delivering the gifts to every good girl and boy.

The window for understanding and believing in Santa is short – five or six years at best.  We’ve been lucky to stretch it out for as long as we have and each year is a gift for me.  I live through my boys, watching their excitement grow as the day nears, and for brief moments remember the magic I wholeheartedly believed in so long ago.

A few weeks ago, both boys lapsed into a silly version of Jingle Bells.

Jingle bells, Batman smells
Robin laid an egg
Batmobile lost its wheel
And Joker got away. Hey!

By the time they hit smells, I was singing along with them.

They looked at me dumbfounded.  How do you know this song mom?

I'm their mother, the one who's caught in "getting things done" mode on a daily basis. It’s impossible for them to think of me as a child, singing silly Christmas songs and laying awake on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa to come, feeling like I’d never fall asleep because the excitement was too much. 

But when I hear the pitter patter of their little feet early Christmas morning and their excited cries of Santa came! I remember.

It’s magical.

And it's a gift.

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