We have allowed the girls believe in Santa.
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 the Santa legend finds its roots in the story of a real man, Saint Nicholas, who loved the Lord very much and clearly wanted to glorify God with his life. So we've 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.
And, as I noted in a recent Celebrate Kids column, this is probably the year we'll tell the whole story. Abigail has asked some probing questions and - at 10 and 11 - we'd likely be setting them both up for peer ridicule if we put it off. But we've opted to wait until after Christmas, giving them one more year of "innocence."
Thus, it was with mixed emotions - happiness and anticipation, yes, but also nostalgia - that I ventured out yesterday with Jeff and the girls to visit "Our Santa" - the only Santa the girls have ever known. This man has been playing Santa at a mall about 30 minutes from here for 17 years, and he is fabulous. His eyes lit up with joy when he saw us last night, and he hugged me and heartily shook Jeff's hand after the girls had their moment with him. He remembers us from the very beginning, and he said he gets teary when he sees kids like my girls come year after year and grow up before his eyes.
I could also tell that seeing him renewed Abigail's belief, so I'm wavering on our decision to spill the beans. I do know it's ultimately best if the girls hear it from us rather than being teased out of their "faith" by a peer, so we will go through with it sooner rather than later. But seeing Our Santa again makes me sad that it's necessary to do so.
Of course, I'm hoping the girls will still want to continue seeing him for as long as he is there. Last night, we all noticed a high school-age girl who - along with her 10-year old sister - happily sat with Santa, not looking the least bit self-conscious. I'm sure she knows the real story, but simply enjoys the tradition of coming to see "her Santa" again. So I'll remind the girls of her next year if they wonder whether we should go to see him. I'd like a complete collection of pictures like this - from their infancies through as many years as Our Santa continues working. I also know he'd really miss us if we didn't come - and it just wouldn't do to break Santa's heart!
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!"