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Dear daughter, you are the kind of magic I believe in

Posted November 9

Amy Choate-Nielsen's 8-year-old daughter may not believe in Santa anymore, but she still has a bit of magic. (Deseret Photo)

Dear daughter,

On Nov. 3, 2016, you told me you don’t believe in Santa.

You’ve been asking me for a while now if he is real, and every time I say, “Do YOU think he is real?” And usually you say, “Yes,” and then I say, “Then of course he is real.”

But this time was different.

I’ve written about my belief in Santa before (see "A quest for Christmas past — and wishing for the good old days" and "As for me and granddad, we believe — sort of"), but I know you’ve never read those stories. This is one of those things I’ve always thought we’d talk about when you are older. Until then, I filed it away with the other grown-up secrets you don’t know about me.

But now, has that time already come? Are you already that old, at age 8?

Here’s the thing: I can tell you want to believe in Santa. I can tell you’re dissatisfied with my answers; that you want me to say yes with no hesitation or questions. I am afraid you can sense my hedging, and it’s made you skeptical.

I think you still believe, but you want me to give you proof.

Well, your grandmother has a lot to do with my response. When she was a teenager, her friend came from a family that was determined to provide proof about Santa.

At one point, her friend’s dad climbed on the roof and walked around on Christmas Eve so she would hear the footsteps and know it was the jolly old man making a delivery. She was convinced for years and years until one day, she realized Santa might not be who she thought he was. She was devastated that her parents would fool her for so long. She felt like she’d been the object of one giant trick, and her trust in her mother and father dwindled.

My mom saw how her friend felt, and she swore she’d never be the cause of her children feeling the same way. So, from the beginning, we knew that Santa Claus was a representation of a man who was really my father.

Now, I realize that’s not much fun. Where is the Christmas magic in knowing that Santa Claus wears a flannel robe, instead of a red velvet suit? That he shaves his face instead of growing a fluffy white beard? That he’s never met a reindeer named Rudolph?

My dear, magic comes in many forms. It does not always look the way you think it should — it’s not even something that is always visible. In fact, there is magic in believing in things you can’t see. For example, I believe all people are our brothers and sisters. I believe we are joined together by a Creator and we are one enormous family. I believe in love and the power to change, friendship and forgiveness, and that there is power in not relying on other people to tell you what is and isn’t true.

The same day you told me you didn’t think that Santa Claus is real, something special happened. We’d been fighting every day for about two weeks before that over silly things like homework, homework and more homework. I was starting to think that we were going to be like that mother and daughter they show on the commercials late at night, the ones who scream at each other before the daughter storms out of the front door. I don’t want to be like that with you when you’re a teenager. I don’t want to be that way now, either.

And then, just as I was really starting to worry, you came home from school, happy as can be, and you did your homework without complaining or whining even once. Later that night, I found a note you wrote and a pile of Halloween candy on my pillow. The note said, “I love you a lot! Just as much as you love me. I hope you like the candy.”

For me, that’s real magic.

Amy Choate-Nielsen is a full-time mom and part-time writer. She spends her days at the park and her nights at the computer. She writes about family history and her quest to understand life while learning about her deceased grandmother Fleeta.

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