• My Christmas Story: Keeping the Magic Alive

    Her daughters believe in the jolly fat man in the red suit—and that’s perfectly fine with her.
  • My Christmas Story: Keeping the Magic Alive
  • I love this time of the year. It always marks the start of what I like to think of as my “peace and quiet season,” when my girls are extra well-behaved and will do pretty much anything I say. How is this achieved? Well, if they misbehave, then Santa would put them on the naughty list and they wouldn’t get anything from him on Christmas. Yes, my children believe in Santa Claus.

    Now in other countries, this would not be a big deal, but here in the Philippines, kids don’t believe in Santa and parents don’t perpetuate the Santa myth. I’m not really sure why Santa has never gained much traction here. Maybe it has something to do with the deeply spiritual meaning of Christmas in our predominantly Catholic country. Or maybe marketers have never maximized his commercial value. Or maybe it’s just hard to imagine Santa in a country with no snow and, more importantly, no chimneys. Still, there are my kids and their parents who have made an effort to bring Santa to life for them.

    I don’t really remember when or how my girls started believing in Santa. I remember helping my eldest write her first letter to him. I remember leaving a plate of cookies and a glass of milk for him with my youngest, both of which she wound up ingesting herself (poor Santa!). How they started believing in him, probably through the different shows or movies that they watch, I don’t really know or remember. We’ve never told them that he doesn’t really exist and, in fact, have gone out of our way to encourage their belief. We help them write and “mail” letters to him. We track his progress from the North Pole to the Philippines. We leave out cookies and milk. We’ve even given a plausible entry point for him in our chimney-less home through the exhaust vent in the kitchen.

    Why do my husband and I bother? Because of the magic. Have you ever seen or noticed the look on a child’s face when she sees something magical: a rainbow, a shooting star, a magic trick, or even Mickey Mouse for the first time? There’s nothing quite like it. All the wonder and innocence in the world captured in one perfect moment—it’s magical in itself. We get to see that look every year on Christmas morning.

    My girls bound out of bed and make a mad dash for the tree. They look for that special package and burst out in screams of delight once they open it. There is magic in our home, there is magic in their lives, and we made that magic happen.

    Needless to say, months are spent looking for that special gift they wrote to Santa about. Some have involved countless hours of searching on the Internet. Some have caused sleepless nights, while we anxiously wait for shipments to arrive. Some have involved physical violence with other parents when a “chase” toy was in play. Each and every toy that Santa has ever given has been worth it for their delighted squeals and the look of magic on my daughters’ faces.

    We know that they won’t believe in Santa forever. Even now, as my eldest is about to turn 10, she already has her doubts. We still, however, try to keep Santa alive in their minds and hearts, even for just one more year, just to keep the magic in their -- and our -- lives a little longer.

    Here’s to a magical and merry Christmas for us all.

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