There wasn’t a moment when my eldest told me she didn’t believe any more. there was never a conversation. I knew because the questions stopped.
For years I’ve had to find the answers at the drop of a hat to questions like:
‘But how can he travel the whole world in one night?’ or
‘Why does he look different to the one I saw last week?’
At first the questions were easy to answer: children want to believe. Then the grillings got tougher:
‘Why is there footprint-shaped icing sugar sprinkled in the hallway?’
‘What’s the point in that key? It doesn’t even fit our door.’
I managed to answer every time, with precison timing and skill. Then this year something happened that I wasn’t prepared for…
No questions. Not one. Instead of asking the questions, my daughter began answering the queries for her siblings. I heard them in the next room tonight:
6 yo: ‘There aren’t any chocolates behind door number 13!!’
10 yo: ‘ Don’t worry, maybe the elves have been too busy to do it, but they will. We just have to wait.’
Not only is she silently dealing with the knowledge that the people she trusts most in the whole world have been making this all up, she’s taken it upon herself to keep the magic going for her sister. How grown up and adorable and sad.
I want to explain. I want to go into her room right now and have that conversation. But I won’t. It will be the first of many conversations we don’t have as her sphere of influence changes and she looks to her friends for assurance and knowledge. She’ll need me less these coming years, and I’ll have no choice but to let her go.
But that magic, it doesn’t just stop. Our children hold it in their hearts forever; remember the Christmas traditions we set and unwrap them for their own children one day. Until then, I’ll be savouring every moment of magic while I can still be part of it.