Every parent knows with the passing of every child-centered holiday that one day their child will come to them with The Question.
“Mommy, is the (Easter Bunny, Santa, Tooth Fairy, etc.) real?”
My oldest daughter B. is eight years old. I though this might be the year she calls my bluff. After all, she spotted all the stuffed animals we bought from IKEA last Christmas. My retort, “Maybe the elves were too busy this year and had to swing by IKEA for backup.”
The Tooth Fairy didn’t even leave a note when B.’s most recent baby tooth fell out. “She must have been tired from flying around all night carrying a bag full of teeth.” That child has no idea how tired the tooth fairy is. Really.
B. found wrappers in the garbage can from the sneaky leprechaun who visited in March. I was annoyed at my failing by this point, “He’s really sneaky leaving it out in the open like that.” (My mother would have NEVER let that happen. She was and still is the master of holiday hiding spots. I bow to your wise ways Mom.)
I thought maybe the older children she hangs out with would spill the beans, but apparently nobody is talking. So we carry on our traditions of baskets and candy, letters and presents; traditions my husband and I grew up with sprinkled in with a few of our own. I dread the day I am confronted with The Question. But I know what I’ll say. It’s the same thing my own mother told me. As long as you believe, it will always be real.
Why should we, as grownups, stop believing in the magic of childhood? I love seeing my kids’ eyes light up at the sight of a handwritten letter from Santa or hear their squeals of delight upon seeing a big chocolate Easter bunny. It doesn’t get old, it’s bittersweet and it’s fleeting. With a two-year old under our roof, I have a few years left of making these memories with my children. And no, I don’t feel like I’m tricking them or lying to them. This, to me, is childhood. Some of my best memories are from holidays gone by. Becoming a parent myself, I realized how much work, thoughtfulness and planning go into Christmas, birthdays, egg hunts, tooth fairy notes. I consider myself lucky to be able to do these things for my children. To be part of the magic making, to see their happiness, their sheer wonder in things that are unexplainable makes it all worth while.