This is my favorite time of year, because I love Santa. I love being Santa. I may or may not have had a third child for the express purpose of keeping Christmas morning magic alive in our household until at least 2015.
But even after a decade of playing St. Nick, I am always amazed at how much I can learn by listening to the experts: the true believers, those whose steadfast adherence to their personal set of Santa beliefs can overcome all threats from friends of older siblings or the force of sheer logic. Even if a Santa conversation starts out with the preschooler asking you, the adult, the questions, fear not. If your web of St. Nicholas deceit begins to fray upon closer examination, your five-year-old will help it all make sense again.
This morning, during the daily French braiding with five minutes to go until we have to leave to catch the bus:
MAGGIE: Mom, how old is Santa?
ME: Oh, my. Old.
MAGGIE: (having none of this vagueness) HOW OLD?
ME: Six hundred years old? At least.
My daughter considers this against the actuarial tables in her head, where even her mother’s childhood counts as “the olden days.”
MAGGIE: Will Santa ever die?
ME: Of course not, honey. Santa is magic!
Maggie regards me dubiously.
MAGGIE: Santa’s not magic.
ME: Sure he is!
ME: If he’s not magic, then how does he come down the chimney?
MAGGIE: (duh) He puts his finger like this!
She lays a finger alongside her nose. I do the same.
ME: Doesn’t work for me!
MAGGIE: That’s cause you’re using the wrong side.
ME: How do Santa’s reindeer fly? If they’re not magic?
Ha. I’m pretty sure I’ve won the argument.
MAGGIE: They’re not magical. They’re just a special kind of reindeer that flies.
At this point, my five-year-old has me reconsidering all that I hold dear.
ME: Okay. But if Santa’s not magic, how does he see you all the time? And know if you’re sleeping or awake or bad or good?
Maggie just looks at me. I’m even dumber than she realized.
(Santa photo by Connor, who did not get his artistic ability from me)