by Laura Roselle, Ph.D.
I dreaded having to tell Olivia that Santa Claus did not exist.
She had always loved Christmas.
Often I would come downstairs in the mornings in December and there she would be – just sitting incredibly still and staring with bright, wide eyes at the glimmering Christmas tree – counting the days until Santa. I didn’t want to destroy her belief in Santa – in magic – in Christmas.
She was in 2nd grade, I think, and the moment finally came.
One night as I was tucking her into bed, here it was.
“Mom?” said with a very concerned look and hesitant voice.
I knew what was coming from one glance at her.
“Is there really a Santa Claus?”
I knew there wasn’t any way out of this. She was asking me for the truth. She wasn’t looking for reassurance – she seemed to really want to know.
And so, I said in the softest and kindest voice I could muster, “No, Livi, Santa Claus is not real.”
My sweet little girl paused for a second and I saw just a hint of a tear well up in her eye. She took a very, very deep breath … and then I took a closer look.
Before my eyes Olivia was transformed as a wave of pure joy spread across her face. There was not a tear of sadness, but a tear of joy.
“I am so glad!!” she cried, “I’m so glad!”
And as I sat in amazement, here is what she told me:
“I knew he couldn’t be real. Ya know why? Because Santa wouldn’t bring more toys to kids who are rich and hardly any toys to kids who are poor. That’s not what Christmas is about… Christmas is about being thankful and about love for all people - and especially for children who don’t have enough.”
And so all of my fears about telling the truth vanished as she so perfectly got to the heart of the matter: Love is real and that is what matters.