With just one short week until Christmas, my Facebook Newsfeed is full of posts about decorating trees, baking cookies, visiting Santa, the oh-so-naughty Elf on a Shelf, videos of kids singing songs about Rudolph, and in contrast, I’m bombarded with numerous articles and blog posts about why some parents choose to not buy into the world of Christmas Make-Believe. Several friends have also posted about the fact that telling their young children about the mythical world of the North Pole and its crazy cast of characters is akin to lying. And they don’t want to lie to their children.
This got me thinking… I lie to my kids Every. Single. Day. Multiple times a day, in fact. I lie to them all kinds of things. When they ask me how I know they were doing something when I wasn’t even looking at them, I tell them that mommies have secret, hidden eyes on the back of their heads. When they ask me how I cleaned the whole house while they were napping, I tell them that I used my Mommy Magic or that some fairies flew into the house while they were asleep to help me. I tell them that restaurants and stores are closed—when they’re not. That the grocery store was all out of ice cream. That they had enough money in their piggy bank to buy their baby sister the stuffed animal she wanted. I lie to them on purpose. And I lie to them WITH purpose.
I do it because I want my children to believe in magic. I want their young lives—untainted by the nastiness and cruelty of the Real World—to BE MAGICAL. I want them to look upon this world we live in in absolute wonder. I want their imaginations to run wild. I want them to believe that the people, places and things they encounter are filled with amazing possibilities. I want them to grow up believing in miracles. I lie to my children not because I want to frighten them into submission or bribe them into behaving like model citizens, lest they end up on Santa’s Naughty List and receive coals for Christmas. I lie to them to make them laugh, to bring joy into their wonderful little worlds.
I lie to my kids because they are tiny little humans who believe. They believe that Mommy can make the hurt go away with her magical kisses. They believe that Daddy is the strongest person in the world who can fix anything and everything. They believe that our family is the happiest and the funnest family in the whole world. They believe that Mommy and Daddy’s bed is The Safest (and Snuggliest and Best) Place on Earth. They believe in amazing and fantastical things as only children can.
I lie to my children because their childhood is brief. Before long, their sweet voices will be tinged with sarcasm and disinterest as they grow older, experience the world, and become more independent. They’ll become jaded, and things like pushing their own kid-sized shopping cart at the grocery store will bore them. Squeezing our family of five onto one couch for movie night will no longer appeal to them. They’ll soon start to roll their eyes at me when I tell them I have eyes on the back of my head…
The magic and fantasy of childhood is limited, and their experiences in this world—the Real World—are unavoidable, inevitable. Soon, the magic of Christmas will fade. They won’t believe in the Tooth Fairy. They will realize that Mommy’s kisses are just plain kisses and don’t actually heal wounds. My children will stop looking up at me, hanging on every word, their eyes round in wonderment, as I weave tall tales for them. But their memories will be there—memories of being enchanted, of sharing their beautiful imaginations with Mommy and Daddy, and of the magic of childhood.
I know that Santa Claus and reindeers and a giant, magical toy factory in the North Pole aren’t what Christmas is all about, but this moment of childhood wonder and belief is brief. They have the rest of their lives to appreciate the meaning and the spirit of Christmas sans jolly, old man in a red suit. But for now, Santa is magical. And magical is good.