I try not to lament things that haven't happened yet. Like having nobody in diapers, which means self-sufficiency is creeping closer. Like when "mommy" becomes "mom" or when they no longer want to give me a kiss good-bye. Instead, I try to remember to appreciate the now and soak up the moments I know will be fleeting much more quickly than I could imagine.
I'm not sure when Divine stopped believing in Santa Claus. I think she has secretly known for sometime now, but hasn't said anything. She doesn't like confrontation like her momma. And maybe she was trying to cling to any last threads of hope that were tying her childhood to the close and new world of youth.But, Pearl is a different matter. She wants to know. Real or not. Fact or fiction. True or false. She was 5 when we took all the baby Dills to New York to make Christmas memories in that fantastic city. We went to Mary Poppins on Broadway and not only does she constantly lean over (and this is true for any type of production, so beware if she happens to be sitting by you) and ask questions about everything, but she wants to know: Is that real!? Are they really walking up the wall? Is she really flying? It's both endearing and annoying.
Quite honestly I'm surprised that she has believed this long. In today's world that pushes little children to grow up too fast anyway, wearing things that shouldn't even be on teenagers, having their own phones, and highly priced electronic gadgets, belief is cut short too soon, in my opinion.While I have mixed emotions about perpetuating something as Santa Claus, I still believe that allowing little children to enjoy the enchantment of the north pole and reindeer is part of childhood that adds to being a child.
Pearl came to us Christmas Eve with her serious eyes and straight mouth, and concern in her voice. "Is Santa Real." It wasn't a question, more of a demand to know once and for all. She came to us, knowing we will tell her the truth if she asks us, that she can trust the words that we tell her.
Ryan and I both took her aside, away from the chaos of newly opened gifts and sat down with all of our arms intertwined and bodies close, making a Pearl sandwich. She asked us again with that look of all the seriousness a 9-year-old can summon, pleading to know the real truth. In all gentleness, we told her that we filled her stockings and there was no climbing down chimneys by anyone.There was a look of relief on her face and we squeezed her hands. She wanted to know why people thought there was a Santa and we related the story of St. Nicholas and that it's an enchanting tale to believe and makes Christmas morning a bit more magical for little kids. We talked about how even though the real meaning of Christmas is the birth of our Savior, the tale of Santa also promotes giving to one another and reminds us that being good and obedient is important, and what Christ would want us to be. She seemed to be taking it all in, processing all the past years of gifts in her mind.
Then, she went through every single holiday and we gave it to her straight. No, there is no such thing as a leprachaun, or Easter bunny (although we never did have the Easter bunny visit our house), the toothfairy, everything she could possibly imagine. We spilled every last darn bean in the pot. She hugged us and said "Thank you for telling me the real truth."
The next morning, Christmas morning, after stockings were emptied, she held a small antique horse in her hand, looked at me from across the room and gave me a knowing smile. Bittersweet, but beautiful.