Apparently the debate about whether or not parents should let their children believe in Santa is much further reaching than I had assumed. I have tried expressing my opinions, but I find it hard to articulate why we have chosen to "do" Santa with Isaac. Then I read a friend's blog on just this topic and he expressed my feelings more clearly than I have ever been able to. So, please, read what he has to say. And know that I couldn't have said it better myself.
To be honest, I don't know that Matt and I really made a deliberate decision to let Isaac believe in Santa. I know people who have debated this topic with spouses and friends. To Matt and I, it just didn't seem like that big a deal. My parents were not very religious so Santa didn't contradict beliefs in my home. I grew up having believed, as did Matt. If I catalog all of the things that scarred me as a child, and there are many, having believed in the magic of a benevolent man who made children happy wouldn't make the list. Matt and I are very deliberate about avoiding what we see as mistakes that our parents or others made and try to raise Isaac as honestly and with as much integrity as possible. To us, Santa wasn't a mistake and we don't feel like cultivating Isaac's belief in him is dishonest or lacking in integrity.
So, Wednesday evening I took Isaac to see the ultimate pro-Santa movie, Miracle on 34th Street (the Maureen O'Hara, Natalie Wood version). I wasn't sure how he would like it, since it is black and white, and I was actually a little concerned that his belief in Santa may be compromised after seeing it. But his faith held up and may even be stronger than it was before he saw the movie, though if you ask him he would say he didn't like it. But it was funny when Santa got bubble gum in his beard.
I left the movie with a new appreciation for its message after hearing the debates about whether or not Santa is good for kids. Santa and other fairytales that we tell children aren't just for them. They are for us, too. Because sometimes to deal with our reality, we need to have faith in the magic and the impossible and the things that seem silly. It may be all that gets us through some days. Like Susan, we repeat to ourselves, "I believe, I believe. It's silly, but I believe." And, sometimes, our belief is rewarded.
So, Isaac will wake up on Christmas morning and look for signs of Santa's visit. We will play along, having eaten the cookies that were left out and piled the presents under the tree. Dave the Elf will have disappeared, having gone back to the North Pole until next year when Santa needs his help again. Eventually, the time will come when Isaac knows that it is all a game and that the gifts come from Matt or me or other family and friends. I don't think the realization will be traumatizing and I hope that the memories he will take away will allow him to continue to believe that there is magic in our lives, even if it is only the magic that we make.