It was a crushing blow. I immediately wanted to take it back. Her little 9 year old face melted into pure sadness right in front of me and I wanted Superman to spin the Earth backwards so that I could take it back. But he couldn’t, because Superman isn’t real.
“Savannah, let’s go have a talk.”
She had asked a few questions. She had told me in a confession that big sister didn’t believe anymore. “Well, then, Abby won’t get any presents from Santa then, if she doesn’t believe… right?” She nodded her head and smiled.
More than usual, this year we have been actively doing charity around the community. The kids both filled shoeboxes and sent them to Operation Christmas Child, they adopted and shopped for a kid from CASA through their school, and we picked up a wish list for a child in need at our church. The girls are very aware that they live in abundance, and that there are many, many people around the world and in our own town that do not have what we have.
Savannah had started to wonder a little why Santa didn’t come to the poor, and I believed it was time to tell her.
“Baby, Santa is not real.”
As we sat on her bed in the quiet to have this big talk, the words immediately made her crumble. The big crocodile tears came down quick and my heart broke into a million pieces. I was immediately sorry, but there was a purpose for this conversation, so after a few minutes of pure sadness, I continued.
“You know how we filled those shoeboxes and bought clothes and toys for that little girl? We did those things because WE have to be Santa for other people. We are the spirit of Santa and the spirit of Christmas. Just like Jesus came down to Earth and helped the poor and needy, WE need to help those around us. If WE don’t help others when they need it, sometimes, they don’t get anything at all.”
She nodded her head and wiped away the tears.
“You’ve been asking a few questions about why we needed to do these things, and I know Abby has told you that she didn’t think he was real anymore..”
“She doesn’t! She tells me all the time!”
“Well, it’s true, baby. And I’m sorry I have to tell you this, but I wanted you to hear it for sure from me, and not Abby, or kids at school. WE are Santa. WE are the people that help.”
It’s been a few weeks from that talk and it’s been great. She doesn’t let on around others that she knows the truth, and we share winks when Santa is being discussed. She kept the knowledge of knowing from Abby for a time, just so she would have one-up on her for a while, but Abby tells me that Savannah has told her that she knows the truth and, “she says it and puts her nose up in the air, like she knows everything”. Ah, sisterly love and competition. I asked Abby how she found out for sure that Santa wasn’t real… “I read it in a book last year“.
So here we are, on the other side, and it’s okay. Today is Christmas Eve and we are planning on making cookies and we will even set out a few out tonight. We might play a board game or wrestle with the dogs on the floor. We will just enjoy each other, knowing that WE are the spirit of Christmas.
“But elves are still real, right?!”