I know this is a time to reflect on the past year, but today I find myself thinking more about our recent week, than about the entire 2012. After all, annual rituals & celebrations have in themselves an inherent element of reflection about the year gone by, don't they? And this Christmas, Tom and I happily played once again our magic Babbo Natale (Santa/Father Christmas) role for our children - rather, for the littlest of our children - well aware that it would be one of our last times.
Does Santa still live in your house?
Rebecca ardently believes in the magic of Christmas, and in the mystery of all rituals and celebrations. But she's six-years old now, and I wonder how long this is going to last. I can't remember exactly when the boys learned of Santa's imaginary nature (ie the traditional fable of Father Christmas, elves, flying sleighs and the North Pole which, oh yes, we told them all about) but I do remember that it was a process we delayed, and that ended in some drama.
It was our younger boy who'd first heard some anti-Santa rumors from his friends, when he was 5 or 6 years old. I overheard him telling the scoop to his incredulous big brother, who laughed those rumors off as utterly absurd, and restored a somewhat shaky belief in Santa for that year. The following Christmas, though, they faced me directly with the question, and I had to concede that we parents bought the gifts (Santa would never be able to make it all the way around of the world in one night), but that we followed Santa's specific advice: he always could tell what would be best for each child to receive. This explanation bought some more time, and the fragile flame of Christmas magic continued to flicker with us for a little while longer.
However, the following year I was confronted again with the question, this time with a peremptory demand for a "yes" or "no" answer: Did Santa exist or not? No nonsense. No talk about magic. I still remember it was nighttime (these things never happened calmly in daylight, over a cup of coffee), and my little boy was furious. "Yes or no?" is all he wanted to know. As the truth was revealed, he got more and more enraged, and went down the list of childhood magic tales: How about the Easter bunny, yes or no? And what about the Tooth Fairy, yes or no?? What did we do with his teeth, then??? The evening ended with his declaring that he would never once again believe anything we'd tell him. So much for magic.
Santa came back to our house when Rebecca was born. I wasn't sure how to handle all that, to be honest, and I was still saddened by the brutal demise of our first Babbo Natale. But the magic of Christmas came back naturally, with big brothers telling little sister all the tales that had been part of their childhood. And the more they told her, the more they created together the magic of Christmas.
Well, it's time to say goodbye to 2012.
Here's wishing you a very happy 2013,
with a healthy dose of magic.