We eschew the Easter Bunny because it has no connection in any way to the true meaning of Easter. But Santa is different for us, since he is based on a real man, Saint Nicholas, who loved the Lord very much and clearly wanted to glorify God with his life. So, we felt comfortable allowing the myth here and, when it comes time to acknowledge reality, we'll be able to share the true story of Nicholas and how his biography morphed into the legend.
Of course, I don't know if that'll be anytime soon because - at nine and 10 - they still believe. I'm sure that's largely due to the fact that, though we certainly don't lock them away from other children, they haven't been exposed (for seven-plus hours a day, 180 days a year) to cynical peers who probably felt forced to abandon make-believe before entering first grade.
But I'm certain it's also because we've been able to take them to the same Santa for their entire lives - every year since Rachel was just seven months old! Of course, they've seen other men dressed as Santa, in real life and in movies, but they are just playing dress-up or are, at best, mere "Santa's helpers." This guy - this wonderful man whose eyes light up when he sees the girls and even Jeff and me! - is Our Santa.
At two-and-a-half and one-and-a-half,
neither girl would sit with Santa that year unless we also sat with them.
But our presence obviously didn't help very much!
I wanted to get this shot of Abigail alone with Santa for her first Christmas,
and we intended to do another pose with both girls.
However, at just over one-and-a-half,
Rachel would have none of it that year, so Abigail got to "fly solo!"
A wise friend has one of the most profound parenting goals I've ever heard: to "[work] for early maturity while [prolonging] innocence." And I've adopted that as one of my own goals because it's exactly the right attitude. After all, we don't want our children to be childish for long...but we want them to be child-like forever. Jesus told us that (Matthew 18.3, Mark 10.15, Luke 18.17).
And I'm tickled that Our Santa has helped us to do that...in addition to giving us a tradition the girls will remember for their whole lives.