Updated: Apr 20
It’s a hysterical start to our day, and not the good kind. Heavy emotions and a lot of questions that we’re not sure how to answer. Steve and I are caught like deer in the headlights. We look to one another with blank faces, wide eyes. If we could have thought of something quicker, maybe how the elf must have used our computer to make the notes! But we didn’t. And the thing is Gracie’s been seeking ‘truth’ around all of this for months. She noticed that Lily’s gift from the tooth fairy looked suspiciously like it was made from beads I have. She noticed that the gift from the Switch Witch looked very similar to a box she’d seen in our laundry room. She had so many questions and kept imploring that we just tell her the truth…but what is true?
We made our version of it. Yes we put the notes in the wooden advent boxes each day, but where do the notes come from? It is true that we don’t write them ourselves. Without going over the details I tell her how parents simply get to embody the magic and spirit of Christmas, like a baton that’s passed to us and we run with it. We get to help bring the spirit of the holidays into our own home and each parent does that in different ways. If you know my child you know that she is inquisitive beyond measure, so at some point we have to shut down the conversation and just let her wonder about some things herself.
It feels critically important to me, this upholding of the magic, and I’m not ready to let it go. It’s why we enrolled our daughters in Waldorf, their knack for keeping wonder alive. It’s why we don’t talk about complicated adult issues in front of them. Or why we don’t ever have the news on when they’re with us (or ever actually). It is such a short window of time in their lives that this magic lives so fully. Children are born to us complete with an understanding of magic, they feel the miracle of their existence as they just made that journey to earth from wherever they were before. The time is precious and it’s so short, heartbreakingly really. We have our entire lives to live “in the real world”, the wonder years are fleeting. So fleeting many of us can’t even remember what it was like or when it ended.
I can see it in Gracie, this push and pull, this wanting to be told that she can keep believing and then also feeling that something doesn’t feel quite ‘real’. How do we start to think that just pure magic could be too good to be true? We are born believing that all is based in goodness, there is nothing outside of that. There is no need to question it. And then the material world and its limitations start to nudge their way in somehow. Forming us, shaping our thoughts, and laying the foundation for a new set of beliefs.
It was only a year ago a sweet friend of Gracie’s told her that the tooth fairy didn’t exist, that just her mom or dad actually sneak in and make the swap. I held my breath for a moment and looked at her face, could see the concern and confusion. She came to me after and said in disbelief that her friend thought parents were the tooth fairy – like mom who could believe something so silly?! The magic was so captivating that nothing could exist besides that. Phew, bullet dodged. But a year has passed and the veil between what is ‘real’ and what isn’t is getting thinner. Sigh.
So what am I doing with all of this? I do know that as my children move from that soft glowy warmth of young childhood and embark upon adolescence they will naturally become more curious, more astute at judging what seems real or conjured up. I am just going to offer them the invitation to keep exploring how magic does show up. A baby is made from sperm and egg but the miracle is the burst of a zillion cells taking shape, a person being built, full of complex emotions, beliefs and values that are solely their own. A chameleon seamlessly changes the colour of it’s skin to match it’s environment and we may understand the biochemical process but only to the degree that we’ve constructed that. A bulb will lay dormant in the soil through the cold and harsh winter and through it’s own innate knowledge of the seasons will unfurl at just the right moment, bursting from the earth in vibrant shades of green. As humans we are determined to name and categorize each and every process, to go to the very limits of our existence, to feel that edge and know where we belong within that design. We think we know it all, we desire it so. What you believe is your reality, and we often subscribe to it so deeply it’s second nature, it doesn’t even occur to us to question much anymore. We’re seeing that in big ways this years as conversations erupt over race, medical freedom and human rights in ways we’ve never before seen.
Making magic together for 22 years
Magical thinking, the ability to allow for some of life to simply be a mystery perhaps. The ability to be ok with not knowing all of it, and not needing to know either. To simply let the ponderance of “I wonder” suspend in the air and not pursue it further. To just let the chips fall where they may, to make a plan and then see how the path forms itself when you stop pushing it. To cast a vision of a life that feels much more extraordinary than the one you now exist within. Many would argue that’s ignorant or idealistic, certainly not rooted in reality. But I would invite people to try shifting perspective, imagine that reality itself is only a set of subscribed to beliefs handed down generation over generation. Once humans believed the Gods were angry and punishing with plagues and weather patterns. Now people believe that there is a germ theory and global warming. What might we consider to be ‘real’ in the furture…I wonder.
Regardless if you feel rooted into the here and now, the tangible aspects of our world, the human experience or if you’re hovering somewhere in the between, in a plane that allows for magic and miracles, there is space for you. The spirit of Christmas (or anything you celebrate) is the magic, and as prior-children (aka adults) parents get that dose of magic from being a part of it. I don’t wake up on December 25th wondering when Santa came and what he brought me, but I do wake up in a joyous rush to see how my kids react. The majority of us do – alas it’s adults who carry the torch year after year of the parades, the mall Santa, the letters from the North Pole, the elf on the shelf, the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny. We all play our role, quite happily. And on Christmas morning gathered around the tree I feel wrapped in the blanket of my girls belief, comforted by their wonder and moments of awe. I get that connection and recognition of what it was to be little and steeped in the beauty of magic. In that way the magic is carried forth, still a part of our daily rhythm, still a part of our adult construct of our human world. What a miracle that is.
**Updated; A week has passed since the tragic event and I’m not entirely sure where Gracie has landed with it all. Sometimes she’ll ask “did you see what was on this note?” when she grabs it from the wooden calendar. She seems to maybe want to keep the ruse going, it’s good enough for me. I shrug noncommittally, not confirming or denying. Maybe that is the transformation in its entirety, one foot staying in the realm of magic and belief and the other stepping out into this more concrete world. Maybe it isn’t scary and sad, maybe it just is.