Whimsy Makes Way for Understanding

I was eight years old when I started questioning, too.

I was just beginning to understand how time worked, how long it took to accomplish tasks, how vast the world was.  I was learning my multiplication tables.

With my head upon my pillow, throughout most of November 1976, I calculated that if Santa spent ten minutes at each child’s house, he could visit six children each hour.  Over the eight overnight hours, that would be only 48 children–two classes’ worth.  In my own school alone, there were twelve classes.  What about the other schools?  The other towns?  The other states?  Even with the different time zones factored in, it just didn’t make mathematical sense.

Oscar asked me a little over a week ago if Santa were real.  I was driving.  I told him I needed to pull over and look at him while we had this conversation.  So, I did.  And we did.  He asked, and I answered.  He then asked about the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.  He wanted to know if these counted as “lies.”  I responded.  He then received his requisite instructions regarding not sharing this knowledge with other children, with his brothers.

He then looked at me, and his eyes misted over.  I asked him if he were sad now that he knew for sure.  He said, “A little.  But really what I’m thinking about is that if it wasn’t Santa and the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny all these years, then it was you and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa.”

He paused, then continued.

“That’s generosity.  You let us believe it was Santa, and it was you.  You guys did it all, and you didn’t care about the credit.  That’s Christmas, isn’t it?”

He may no longer believe in Santa but he understands what the Christmas spirit is and means.

Sounds like a good trade to me.


9 thoughts on “Whimsy Makes Way for Understanding

  1. This is the best reporting I have ever read about “that moment.” This far surpasses “Yes, Virginia….” I want so to share this with a friend who, wanting her children to know the gifts came from her and her husband, never bought into the Santa magic. She missed the point of it all, I feel. She missed the Christmas spirit. Oscar not only didn’t miss it, he really “got” the true Christmas story – generosity. I feel I have my Christmas present for this year. Thank you, Oscar!

  2. First, I can’t believe you were only 8 years old in 76, that makes meet twice your age that at that time! Second, I love your blog. You say so many of the things I have felt as a parent over the years so succinctly. You are wise beyond your years, and I don’t mean wise ass. But there’s that tool…jk. Ha!

    Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE DROID

  3. “Santa,” comes in many forms, and many colors. Any age when asked is a good time to start considering the differences among us and how others may feel about characters familiar to us and how we feel about characters familiar to them.
    It’s fair to share.

  4. What a wonderful son you have raised to understand the true meaning of Christmas. You and Don should be very proud!! Gena

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