Friday, November 21, 2008

The Countdown Has Begun...

No, I'm not talking about a countdown to opening Christmas presents with tags that read "Do not open till Dec. 25th" or even the famed New Year's Eve ball drop on Time's Square. 

My eldest daughter, Daphne, found out yesterday that Santa Claus is....well, not so much alive in body as in spirit, let's say. She wasn't upset about it or anything. She simply came to me in the study while I was alone reading an email and shut the door behind her. 

"When did you stop believing in Santa Claus?"

Notice the choice of wording in this phrase??
I didn't.

So, I say (like a goon), "Oh, I don't remember, honey."
Dramatic pause.
       When it registered to me what had just occurred, I stopped reading my email, eyes still affixed to the plasma screen and could feel my eyes dilating and my face getting hot from embarrassment.  
My 10 year old daughter had just outsmarted my 29 year old college educated self. 
       I slowly turned my face around to meet hers, hoping she'd be staring at her shoes or twirling her hair completely unaware of the mounds of information I had just unleashed in one thoughtless remark. Instead she was smiling sweetly at me. 
"Why?" I asked. 
"I just wondered." And she giggled. 
"When did YOU stop believing in Santa Claus?" I asked sarcastically (and in a somewhat reverse psychological mode) hoping to SOMEHOW recover.
"Right now." She said it with one eyebrow raised and one corner of her mouth to match.
       We both started laughing. She didn't seem upset. She wasn't mad. It was like she knew all along and was just solidifying it for her own personal knowledge base. 
I was soooo relieved. So, we made a pact that she would keep the magic real for the other kids as long as they still believed.

Which is where now I understand that my own personal countdown has begun. 
       My first child has found out the truth about Santa Claus. This will trickle into a domino effect of realizing the truth about the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, (it probably happened simultaneously with the Santa Clause trap, when I stop and think about it). 
How long will it be before Abby finds out?
Then, it will be Julia who discovers the depths of reality all too soon.
Once Garrett comes to that realization, it's over. That's it. No more magic. 
       What I mean by 'magic' is not the magic of family gatherings and giving handmade gifts to each other and drinking hot cocoa on Christmas morning with EXTRA whipped cream. 
That lovely magic will always be there. 
       I mean the magic of leaving homemade reindeer food out on the front lawn and staying up 2 hours passed bed time going outside every 5 minutes to check and see if any of it has been eaten yet...
       The magic of wondering if the little jingle they heard outside just as they were drifting off to sleep might really have been Santa's sleigh flying overhead...
       The magic of seeing little chubby faces light up at the sight of half-eaten cookies and an empty milk glass next to a fireplace lined with stuffed-to-the-brim stockings and believing that a Jolly Old Elf had stood there and been so generous.

All of my kids are just about through the stages where they are seeing things for the first time. 
No more "Oh, honey look, a choo-choo train!" as a little hand pats the window and you mimic "Too- too!"

No more shouts of  "Weeee!" as you venture down a slide for the first time getting butterflies in your tummy. 

No more first steps into that classroom all by yourself on the first day of school and looking back to see if I'm still there. 

No more eating a lemon for the first time and wondering if your mouth would be stuck that way if you took another lick.

No more losing a very first tooth and contemplating whether to put it under the pillow you sleep under or under the pillow next to you so you wouldn't accidentally squish the Tooth Fairy. Better yet, just leave it on the dresser. 

No more sitting in silence by the windowsill watching snowflakes fall because you'd never seen them before. 

With each little moment like this that fades, I come to understand bit by bit that time doesn't fly...
It has it's own corporate jet, airport and landing strip.


The Wagoner Gang said...


I feel your pain, but I only have one child, who by the way is 10 also.... Very sad! Keep your chin up....

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