But this last weekend, I realized something. I took a long look at all my kids, who were doing nothing in particular, just hanging on the couch being boys, and it hit me: Everyone is growing up. This is it—the last year I will have a “believer” in the house.
My youngest is still at that age where there is an innocence about him—a hopeful, wishful and unwavering-belief-in-all-things-Santa kind of innocence. How did I not realize that this may be the last year of that? He has made it obvious by sprinting out of bed every morning to search for his Elf (who he thinks is totally real), and he has handed me his letter to Santa, which was signed, sealed and carefully enfolded in a sticker-and glitter-covered envelope. But I’ve been too busy huffing and puffing about my Christmas to-do list to notice that he still believes.
I still have a believer in the house.
I suppose it is the curse of the last child. Holy halls not decked, because as moms, we become a wee bit “over” things by the time the last kid rolls around. We’ve done all the baby’s first Christmases, all the big outings for a picture on Santa’s lap. We’ve cheerfully waited for the arrival of Amazon boxes full of train tracks, car raceways, and pirate ships that we were eager to assemble and make big “From Santa!” tags for. We’ve hosted cookie parties, holiday pajama parties, sewn our share of nativity costumes, and taken the time to take each child out alone to shop for his dad and his brothers. We’ve bought matching pajamas for all the little ones, drove around night after night to look at lights, and talked constantly about Santa coming as we hand-made Christmas countdown chains in red and green. We’ve already done it all.
For the last kid, it’s more like, “Want to shop for dad? Here is my Amazon login. Need Christmas pajamas? There is a box somewhere that I don’t have the energy to find or unpack. A picture with Santa? Let me Photoshop you in one. Toys? I have no idea what you want—just use this gift card. You wanna go see lights? We have one strand on a tree outside, there ya go. You want to be in the church play? Please no, not this year.”
Shame on me.
This morning on the way to school, I received a big ol’ Grinch slap across the face. My youngest, with an expression of deep thought, said, “You know, I believe in Santa, just not the reindeer so much anymore, because you know, the whole flying thing.”
I froze. There it was. The beginning of the end of believing. I knew that by next year, it would all be over. I glanced in my rearview mirror to brace myself for what his older brother was going to say in response. Here is his chance, I thought. Here is his chance to be that snarky older brother who breaks it to his little brother that there is no such thing as Santa and flying reindeer. He turned to his little brother and said, “Of course they can fly, silly. Santa feeds them magic reindeer food that gives them the ability to fly.”
My youngest smiled and said, “Oh yeah, I bet you’re right.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. And so, although Christmas may feel like a time of overwhelming to-do lists, I’m going to start looking at it as an opportunity to provide one final magical season to my last child.
I’m going to find that darn box of Christmas pajamas, and I’m going to make a red and green countdown chain. We’re going to bake cookies for Santa, and we’re going to talk about magical reindeer food and sleighs large enough to carry presents for every child in the world, and how elves at the North Pole are making toys right this very minute.
Twelve months from now, I will likely have a kid who has wised up. But for now, we’re going to allow ourselves to be swept up in the magic of Santa. For now, we are going to believe.