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Today's Family Magazine

The secret of Santa is alive and well

By Stacy Turner

Yes, it’s the holiday season, but even before Halloween was over, visions of sugarplums were dancing in my daughters’ heads.  The eldest has added a countdown app to her phone to keep us apprised of the dwindling days until her favorite holiday.  I tried unsuccessfully to keep her from belting out carols until Thanksgiving; her Christmas list-making and Pinterest-pinning began long before the leaves had dropped.  Don’t misunderstand, she’s not just thinking of herself. She’s been stockpiling gifts -- both crafted and purchased -- for friends and family, and she’s been writing letters to her cousins at college, beyond excited to see them during the holidays.  My girl is a holiday dynamo, and it’s a beautiful thing to witness.

I don’t fool myself into thinking that she and her sister, now both in middle school, haven’t figured out the secret of Santa.  Thankfully, neither one had broached the subject with my husband or me.  I’m not sure if they don’t want to mess up a good thing, or they’re just not ready to give up this magical part of childhood. Either way, I sincerely appreciate the gift they’ve given us.  My husband and I enjoy planning holiday surprises for our girls at least as much as they enjoy receiving them.  If they told us they knew the secret, they would be admitting that they’re growing up.

I’m not blind, this is something I realize each time my eldest turns to look me in the eye; wasn’t it just yesterday she hugged me around the middle and had to look up to see my face?  Or when my youngest hugs me, and measures even higher than her hug height, despite complaining that she’ll never be as tall as her sister.  I know that with each year that passes they get closer to becoming young women and further from my little girls.  My head knows this, but my heart is thankful we’ve still got the holidays to pretend otherwise.

I do appreciate how my kids have matured, especially with their requests of Santa.  When they were younger, they’d be very vague with their potential gift wishes, telling me that Santa knew exactly what they meant in their letter, and was skilled at reading even the messiest handwriting.  Or they’d ask for the moon, knowing that between Santa and Grandma, they’d probably receive it.  Now, thankfully, they realize that his helpers need more than just a vague name or abstract-looking drawing to decipher their dearest desires.  It’s been a while since a hot tub has made the wish list.  Which is good, since I haven’t even been good enough to be on the good-enough list to merit a gift of that magnitude.

Or maybe my girls respect what the jolly old elf represents; bringing to mind a magical time that fills even the grinchiest among us with an extra measure of peace and goodwill. It’s a time of year when strangers venture out of their comfort zones to express care and concern for others. Christmas really is a special time when wishes really can come true.  So whatever the reasons, I’m happy to feign ignorance.  If my kids don’t ask the question, I certainly don’t want to bring it up and spoil what we’ve got going.

I’m happy that my kids, especially the super-self-sufficient one, are letting us all hold on to this bit of magic, at least for a while longer. There will be plenty of time to grow up soon enough.  Someday in the not-so-distant future, they’ll be driving and dating and heading off to college, then trying to find their way in the world.  Right now, we’ve got a hidden secret -- my kids, husband, and I.  They know, we know, and they know we know, but as long as no one admits it, we’ll enjoy these fleeting moments of childhood by decking the halls and fa la la-ing with the best of them.  And my holiday wish is the same for you, too.