December brings snow flurries and cold air, candy canes and Christmas joys as well as an air of magical sparkle. Squinting through the sun you can actually see sparkle and aura that is the tell tae sign of the season. In the spirit of Christmas, children around the world power their beliefs together to create the man we all know as Santa Claus. He is rosy and red, warm and kind, and angelic in his wisdom of finding the good in the hearts of all children. Even more convenient, the simple whisper of his name or glimpse of him across a crowded mall invokes a kind of passion and longing to behave from children that cannot stand the thought of making it on the ‘naughty list.’

Nevertheless, is Santa real? The answer is found in the depths of all who believe. Believing makes things so, and in that realm, he is as palpable as the chilly winds that burn our cheeks in the winter or the fresh taste of minted chocolate. Each year, millions of children actually see him in their homes delivering packages in his cloak and boots while even more bear witness to the wondrous reindeer in flight. Is it simple imagination, or is something so delightful and pure that it can only be described as Christmas magic. Moreover, what happens when children realize through common sense that perhaps he is as fictional or when they begin to question what might be perhaps the world’s best-kept secret. Does Christmas magic die?

Every family handles this pivotal time differently. Some just blurt out the harsh truth shattering the façade out of frustration, while other are still signing gift tags from Santa long after their children become teens. While there is no right or wrong, when the truth comes out it can feel as if all the pixie dust in the world has suddenly disappeared. What is Christmas without Santa?

Children aren’t immune to the babbling of classmates and eventually realize that there are price tags from Wal-Mart on their gifts. Even as parents try to explain, children notice the commercials and marketing paraphernalia around them, they see their parents hiding and being secretive and no matter how hard they cling to the belief, most know long before they admit. So many are afraid that when Santa is gone, so is Christmas and for so many they are right. Still, parents can create Christmas magic of their own for children and all should try in vain to push their own beliefs, their own childlike imagination into enforcing the realities of Santa for as long as they can. Even if a child demands the truth, asks for it by name, calls it out – they are learning first hand that there are some questions in life that you just don’t want the answers to. The best response when a child asks if Santa is real – is simply to quickly and naturally, spin it around and ask them if they believe. Leaving it at that can cause even the most levelheaded child to continue to wonder. As long as they do, he is absolutely real; there is no lie and no one person or thing can take that away from them.

It is especially difficult when your home is filled with children of different ages, some who believe and some who don’t. The ones who don’t are understandably angered; feeling as though they have been tricked for so long and out of haste and immaturity will often try to ruin it for their younger siblings. Explain to children that the discussion of Santa is a private and familial one, and that it should NEVER be discussed with others. Try to allow your older children to become elves themselves and empower them with the gift of diving into someone else’s imagination. Initiate them to the world you live in, where every effort is always made to protect the identity of Santa Claus. Santa Claus is as much a part of childhood as cartoons and playing blocks and every one should be entitled to believe in him for as long as he wants. When your children stop believing, recruit them to become Santa themselves by delivering, purchasing and surprising kids in the community who have less and allow them to witness the magic in motion. This will at least, soften the blow and serve to prove to them that although the mirage may be a hoax, the spirit is not. And while they may no longer wonder if Santa is real, make sure that they still receive a package from him and that they are always left with the faint hint of magic that only Santa can bring.

Is Santa real? The answer, of course is yes. Santa is as real as the children who wait for him; he is as real as icicles, snow and reindeer. He is as real as bells and bows and as every saint and angel who has ever existed. He is not a figment of the imagination and is instead a force to be reckoned with, to be humbled by. Santa is the product of all the good in the hearts of children, all the love and peace that should exist in the world and all the abundance, gratitude and happiness that innately brews inside every human. He is hope, promise and a sign that the world is a safe, joyous place. Santa’s cookies are the sweetest, his footprints the largest and his laughter the warmest. Santa is so real in the hearts and eyes of a child that it should make every adult pause long enough to bear witness to all the good that can come from believing.

Maybe this year, your children will survive the season unscathed by the troubling and confusing realization that people everywhere desperately try to keep under wraps. And for you, when you look at your children as they ask you if Santa is real, understand that they can see it in your eyes if you falter and that the mute scar left by the day you stopped believing is not their cross to bear. Is Santa real? If believing makes things so, which it does with absolute certainty, then all you have to do is believe yourself. Really, what would be so bad about that? Santa Claus is coming and no matter who you are, you had a hand in his creation and glory. Listen for the bells and you just might be able to hear them through the abstract world in which you live. Who knows, maybe just maybe, Santa will surprise you this year! Merry Christmas!

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