Happy 10th Christmas, baby girl. I knew it would happen someday, but I wasn’t ready for it to be this December when you would look me in the eye, and ask, “Mommy, is Santa real?”
I fumbled with the ornaments you and your little sister were helping me hang on the tree. Holding a silver Rudolph with “Baby’s First Christmas 2005” on it, I paused as the memories of Christmases past swirled around me like the snow in a waterglobe. The memories of Christmas present are piling up like gifts, soon to be unwrapped. And the memories of Christmases future, yet to be made, twinkle off in the distance like holiday lights.
Outside, it is gray and wet. The fog is heavy this December, and condenses into garlands of crystalline beads that decorate bare tree branches. Across the Valley, Mother Nature is settling down for a long winter’s nap. But inside our house as we get ready for Christmas, it is warm and cozy.
I sigh at the cheerful mess of cards that need mailing, gifts that need wrapping, and a tree that needs decorating. I look at you and your sister, a pair of beautiful snow angels who give this season wonder and meaning and joy. You are the reasons that I believe in Santa again. I take a deep breath, and from my heart, I tell you the truth.
“Yes, sweetheart. Santa Claus is real.”
You look at me for a long time. My skeptic. My pragmatist. Then you pick up another ornament. “Well, Santa’s handwriting looks just like yours.” We spend the rest of the afternoon in the kitchen, filling up our giant snowman cookie jar with Daddy’s favorite Christmas treats. We can only bake them in December when the persimmons are fat and soft.
Yes, Daniella. Santa is real. He peeks in our window, smiling as you hum Christmas carols, while the scent of nutmeg and cloves drifts outside into the gray afternoon sky.
Santa watches you patiently help your little sister write her holiday wish list. Your dark head presses close to her blonde one as you stretch out together under the Christmas tree, sharing the thick Toys R Us catalog. He nods as you gently help her spell her little girl dreams. Sounding out B-a-r-b-i-e and b-i-k-e, and praising her for using her best handwriting.
Yes, Daniella. Yes, Santa Claus is real. And on Christmas Eve, after you and your baby sister fall asleep with visions of sugar plums, Barbies and bicycles dancing in your heads, he will be here. He will eat the persimmon cookies you’ll put out for him, leaving behind a messy plate of crumbs. And when you wake up in the morning, sleepy-eyed, and run downstairs to see what he brought you, I hope you will believe in him for one more sweet, innocent Christmas.
Santa will tuck your favorite candies into your stocking, bring you a beautiful new shirt that nobody saw you look at in the store, and surprise you with a book that only he knew you wanted. Yes, Santa is real, Daniella. Maybe his handwriting on the presents looks like mine. Perhaps the special paper he’ll wrap your gifts in matches some you will later find hidden in the garage. But Santa is pure and wonderful and perfect. The joy he brings you is true. It will forever be one of the best memories of your childhood. And I hope that the magic of this time of year is evergreen for you.
When you have your first December with your own children, you will remember why this season is so wonderful. When you bake persimmon cookies with them, and hang the little Rudolph ornament I bought you so many years ago onto your own tree, you’ll once again understand the miracle of Christmas. And you will want your little angels to keep it in their hearts forever, never leaving it behind with their childhood, just like I want that for you.
The happiness and joy Christmas brings are as real as you are, Daniella. The wonder of Santa defies logic and explanation. It always has. And it always will, which is what makes him so special. He will forever be one of the most magical experiences in your life, if you just let him. If you just believe.
Merry 10th Christmas, Daniella. And no matter how big you get, please don’t ever grow up too much to believe in Santa.