by Sue LeBreton
It’s early December and my eleven-year-old daughter Abbey is perched on the stool at the end of the kitchen counter. She is leaning forward on her elbows, her blonde, shoulder-length hair is tied back in her daily, non-negotiable ponytail.
She pushes her books aside as she squeezes in minutes and space for an after-school snack; Triscuit crackers topped with melted cheese and green apple slices. I am at the opposite end of the white quartz counter chopping vegetables and measuring ingredients for supper. Soon her end of the counter will be smudged with pencil marks and sprinkled with eraser fluff. Soon my end of the counter will be piled with discarded onion skins and chopped carrots.
Abbey’s cheeks are rouged from the short cold walk home from the bus. These conversations before she lowers her head into the homework abyss are moments I look forward to each day. Usually she has several stories to share, an interesting tidbit from the teacher, tales from the schoolyard or an update on the book she is reading. But today she begins with a question.
“Mom, do you really believe in Santa Claus?” she asks, brows curling toward each other.
I feel my stomach squeeze in upon itself. I want to be truthful while clinging desperately to the illusion, the myth that is Santa. “I do believe in the magic of Santa, you know that, ” I say. “Why are you asking?”
“Someone at school was making fun of another girl for still believing in Santa.”
“Well Abbey, what would you like to believe?” Our eyes lock.
“I want to believe. There are so many clues that he must be real,” she says. And she’s off, listing her proof points as if she is a lawyer summing up her case. The movie, Miracle on 34th Street, flashes in my mind.
She smiles, her eyes twinkling as her energy builds. Her speech accelerates as she rattles off more evidence that Santa is real. “How else can you explain the year I got Twilight Barbie dolls that you could not buy anymore? What about the year Alexander got a GI Joe that hadn’t been made since Daddy was a boy?”
How indeed I think, smiling smugly in my mind. The magic of eBay, unknown to my daughter, the secret elf that has kept the magic alive these last few years.
“And the time Alexander got that video game you said he was not allowed to play and then you were annoyed with Santa.”
I nod in agreement, basking in my cleverness.
She sighs as if carrying worries beyond her years. “Oh, I guess there’s only one way I will ever know if there’s a Santa.”
“What’s that?” I ask, assuming my next challenge in gift giving is about to be revealed.
She rests her case. “When I have a baby of my own, I will not buy any gifts and on Christmas morning I will know one way or another if Santa is real,” she says confidently.
My stomach relaxes as I realize she has granted me a reprieve. I agree that yes, when she is a mom she will know all about the reality and magic of Santa.
Sue LeBreton is a health and wellness writer and mom of two teens. She adores the magic of Santa.