I was about ten when I read in a Judy Blume book, Superfudge, that Father Christmas wasn’t real. I had some suspicions. Mainly caused by grown ups asking me “Do you still believe in Father Christmas?” leading me to question was there something not to believe in. Grown ups ask dumb questions.
I never asked my parents outright, but my fears were confirmed one Christmas morning when my parents were having the classic parental row over who was more tired and who got the most sleep, when my Mum blurted out “I was up late doing the stockings”.
I pretended I didn’t hear. But I was devastated. The magic had gone.
I had a few more years of pretending to believe for the sake of my younger brother. Then one year he asked the question outright, between heaving sobs. One of his friends had told him the big man in red was a fallacy, although I suspect he didn’t use those words. If you do tell your kids there is no Father Christmas, make sure you also tell them not to be that kid that ruins everyone elses Christmas magic by shouting it in the playground.
My mum told my brother that he could believe in whatever he wanted to believe. He decided he would still believe but if his friends asked, he would say he didn’t.
If you want to believe in Father Christmas, you have to believe in magic. Without magic he doesn’t exist, So when people don’t believe in magic, they can’t believe in Father Christmas.
I have always believed in the magic. And that special kind of magic that happens only at Christmas time. When despite all of the chaos and to-do lists longer than Father Christmas’s naughty list, people smile more. Strangers say hello to each other more. We wish people a merry Christmas, and we mean it. We take the time to hold dear the special people in our lives. The nip in the air and twinkly lights and the sound of the Salvation Army playing Christmas carols creates a beautiful magic for me that exists at no other time.
Every year I get scared that I won’t feel it. But every year it comes. Every year I wish I could bottle that feeling. And it’s so hard to describe what that feeling is. It’s happiness, excitement, love. It’s remembering loved ones lost. It’s the memories of Christmases past. It’s hope for the future. It’s Christmas magic.
It’s the reason that until the day I left home at 21 that I still put a mince pie out for Father Christmas. I still insisted my dad made our special magic medicine drink on Christmas eve to help us get to sleep (also known as hot milk with a bit of froth and a flake!) I still left my empty stocking on my bed for my Dad to fill once I was asleep. And once I had gone to bed my parents still left presents for me under the tree from Father Christmas. In fact I still get presents from Father Christmas now and I am 41.
And it is traditions I will carry on with my own children. As long as I believe in Christmas magic, I believe in the spirit of Father Christmas. So I won’t tell my kids Father Christmas isn’t real, because his spirit is there is every gift that we give and receive.
I know there are people that think we shouldn’t lie to our children, and people who tell their kids Father Christmas isn’t real from day one. But for me Christmas magic is special. It’s real. And if you can feel it, then it’s not a lie. I won’t tell my kids Father Christmas isn’t real, because I believe he is. It’s my most favourite time of year and I hope that my kids feel that magic still when they are my age.
Christmas is different for all of this year. Complicated even. We can’t do a lot of our normal traditions. There won’t be a nativity which is my most favourite thing about Christmas. There won’t be crowds of people stood together listening to the Salvation Army band. And whilst it’s not what we are used to, not what we would want, I will be doing everything I can to make some Christmas magic happen.
To my first born,
I see you begin to wonder if Father Christmas is real. Your questions about reindeer, sleighs and how big the world is are getting more complex. I have to use different wrapping paper for gifts from Father Christmas. With each doubt that creeps in I see your beautiful innocence disappearing.
I used to dread you getting older. Wanting to keep you small for as long as possible. But now I see what a privilege it is to see you grow. That along with the tween attitude comes a lot of fun and a new perspective of the world.
There are many things to question in this world. I encourage you to ask those questions. Many wrongs that need to be righted. And I know you will do your bit to make the world a better place. But please don’t question the Christmas magic.
Father Christmas is there in the magic, in every bauble hung on the tree, in every gift given and received. It’s there. You can feel it in the tingle of you toes and the fizz in your tummy. Keep hold of that magic.
Magic brings out the best in people, it puts smiles on faces, and hope in hearts. If you believe in magic then anything is possible. And for you, I want everything to be possible.
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