“I’m just not sure how the Reindeer could get Santa around the globe in time, Mom,”my almost nine-year old son confided to me the other night.
“Magic,” I replied with a smirk.
“Yeah, but…” he asked again, so I switched the conversation to his latest Lego creation. I wondered if this year may be his last one of believing in the magic of Christmas.
I almost busted the myth a year ago on Christmas Eve day.
On my way home from getting the “secret” Santa paper and ribbons (Santa appears more authentic if his wrapping paper differs from mine, right?), I took the back road that wove along the headlands of the Pacific Coast.
I parked in a turnout, and climbed down to the beach. Walking barefoot through the sand on that warm afternoon in December, I picked up wave worn pebbles and pieces of plastic.
On that day, I’m not sure what bugged me about Christmas (probably the entire red and green pulsing lights of shopping in stores). Even with my ritual of crafting homemade gifts—paintings or necklaces or dream catchers—I still didn’t feel inspired about Christmas last year.
I yearned to bust the myth: “Honey, there isn’t a Santa. It’s me. I did all those magical dust moments.” Certainly his older brother figured it out when he was almost 10, so why not end the charade?
Because I wanted my younger son to believe in magic.
I wanted my son to feel a sense of hope, a hint of wonder and playfulness that comes with being a child.
Yet it’s not magic; it’s consumerism, which leaves permanent footprints like these little bits of plastic washed up on the shore. Crumbled plastic bottles resting next to larger sandstone rocks on which dried sea palm roots were latched, almost like a heart.
Magic is more than gifts decorated with glittery gold and silver ribbons left under a dead cedar cut for Christmas; it is celebrating the moment. Yet that very celebration of the Christmas moments—gift wrapping torn open with glee—is magic.
So, on that Christmas Eve day, I pondered my own magical moment of standing with my bare feet in the warm sand on a northern California beach after spending the previous eight winters in the snowy East Coast. I believed in magic; we had somehow returned to the seaside village where we began our journey (although a few months later the magic bubble would burst, but that’s another story).
On that blue sky day, I stood on the very beach where 13 years prior I waddled along pregnant with my first son.
During those months of pregnancy, I often stopped at this beach on my way to my mom’s place near the light house. I parked my rusty ol’ Volvo station wagon, and carefully climbed down to the beach.
I walked alone (with the exception of my baby’s kicks), feeling a sense of comfort among this stretch of the Pacific.
I believe there are some places that we feel a connection without knowing the reasons, except that the energy feels right, a sense of completion and comfort.
I admired the way the stream waters flowed past the brick foundation of an old structure, and then widened into a shallow pool before the stream looped again and trickled into the ocean.
Perhaps that feeling of comfort rested in the confluence of new sands and old structures, quick waves and a slow stream, the steady strut of a white heron and the sudden buzz of a hummingbird.
Intuitively, I knew that magic comes from the confluence of experiences; it builds upon our moments of being.
I never wanted to know the name of the beach until I returned last year. It turns out that one of the tributaries to the winding stream flowed from the woods near my son’s school—a Waldorf inspired charter school.
As I stood in the stream, letting the water trickle over my bare toes, I knew that I could not bust the Santa myth.
Looking back, I believed in the magic of my moments walking slowly along the beach as my belly grew bigger with each passing month. I didn’t need to know the reality of birth, diapers or all the other surprising delights—like being Santa—that come with raising children; I enjoyed the magic of the moment.
Since then, I’ve been sharing Santa’s magic for the past twelve Christmases; and, I am keeping the story alive for as long as possible.
In the meantime, I am looking for some new explanations about Santa’s reindeer because I know my son will ask again.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo Credit: Vonelle Swanson/Pixoto