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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Yes, Virginia ...


I have a feeling the discussion regarding Santa is going to arise in the next year, maybe two, with our son. He's 8 years old, and asked - point blank - about Santa just about a month ago. It was at the dinner table, and his 5-year old sister was sitting with us, so we gave the usual response (and I distinctly remember looking down at my plate, rather than into his eyes, as I answered). He didn't bring it up again. His request from Santa this year was bigger than usual ... not one that Santa was prepared to deliver on. And, despite our best efforts ... a couple missteps on his parents' part may have him wondering again, I fear ... though, he has said nothing of the sort.

As I was thinking about how to handle that discussion when it finally comes up, I couldn't help but remember the classic book, "Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus".

I had never even heard of it until two years ago, when my mother-in-law asked if I'd ever read it. On one of her trips here, she brought me her copy ... purchased in 1972. A beautiful, well-preserved book ... with a timeless message. A couple weeks later, a brand new copy arrived in the mail for me. A gift from my mother-in-law.

I don't plan to read it to my kids just yet ... maybe not even next year. Time will tell. But, I think this is the one I'll pull out when they finally look me in the eyes and asked me the question, "Mom ... is Santa real?"

"Yes, Virginia..." centers around a little girl (Virginia ... obviously), who asks that question. The older printing of the book provides a bit more back story than the new printing, explaining that Virginia's dad, upon hearing the question, tells his daughter to ask The New York Sun ... because what they say is always true. So ... she writes to the editor of the New York Sun.

The treasured, timeless response by Mr. Francis Pharcellus Church, in the year 1897, was eventually turned into book form. And, thank goodness for that ... it is a classic and is as wonderfully relevant today as I'm sure it was back then.

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

14 comments:

Hilary said...

Yes, it's a lovely story. When kids get to that age when they ask you point blank, they're often willing to let you buy time by asking them what THEY think. Or if they're hesitant to answer, ask what they'd like to think.

When you truly feel the time has come to let him in on the secret, you might want to give him the important job of sharing or of being the keeper of the magic for his younger sister.

Kelly H-Y said...

Hilary ... thank you, that is such wonderful advice and so very appreciated!

imbeingheldhostage said...

I forgot all about that story!
We have a story from our family history where some very kind anonymous person saved Christmas for my older brother after he requested something from Santa that couldn't be bought where my parents lived. Because a man in a suit showed up on Christmas Eve and delivered it, I still tell my kids, "Yes, I believe in Santa Claus" and don't have to divert my eyes at all :-)
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!!

CalamityJayne said...

My mom had my sister read Virginia when I figured it out and she heard me asking about it. She was only 5 but I have a big mouth...

Sarah figured it out this year and she's only 9, will be 10 in January. She started mentioning it last year and finally asked straight up this year. Julie was honest with her but told her the great part is that now she gets to be an elf and help mom & dad with her brothers. She was thrilled and is so excited to have a secret the other three munchkins don't.

Solvang Sherrie said...

I'm not sure if my 11-year-old still believes or just plays along for his little sister...and us :)

Kelly said...

My response is exactly like Sherrie's. I have an eleven yr old who has never asked. So I don't dare tell him. And my 8 and 6 yr old are definite believers. Technology may play a part as we chart Santa's progress on norad on Christmas Eve and they receive personalized video emails from him from the Portable North Pole!

C.R. Evers said...

I'll have to check that one out. I've already had to have that conversation with my 9 year old, but I have a 7 and 5 year old on her heels. The 7 year old is already asking question. I'll have to check out this book for sure!

thanks for the heads up.

CC said...

I'm told I'm the bad mommy that always told my kids that Santa (and the Tooth Fairy, etc.) is a story. I was reprimanded recently for not giving my kids the fantasy. It's just a decision my husband and I made long ago. Hopefully, they won't be in therapy later b/c mommy didn't tell them about Santa... ;)

ladyfi said...

Ah, I recognize this dilemma. My daughter is 9 and I'd say that most of her class don't believe in Santa anymore. Some of the parents have told them 'the truth'.

She really wants to believe in the magic, though, so my answer is: I believe he exists. The magic of Christmas lives on in our hearts.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Our daughter knew long before she ever told or asked us, but even at 14 Santa still visits her and she still enjoys his visits each year. My husband says he will always visit as long as you believe...I can't imagine letting go of that tradition.

ethelmaepotter! said...

Oh, I can sooo identify with this story. I don't remember my age, but I do remember my sister, one year my junior, questioned the existence of the Grand Old Man, and Mama took us BOTH aside and told us he was not real. I was completely devastated. Christmas just wasn't the same for me after that until grandchildren came into our family.
Years later, when my own children were 6 and 7, my SH (The H is hubby; you can use your imagination on the S) decided it was time they knew "the truth." Despite my protests and threats, he actually told them! Luckily, they knew him well enough, even at their tender ages, to know that they could take anything he said, divide by 2, then subtract to get the truth. They came running to me to ask it what Daddy had told them was true and I said, "Of course not; you know how your Daddy jokes around." They believed me and actually never asked again. In fact, daughter Ariel firmly believes the truth as in Virginia's tale, as do I.
I browsed through your first page and must comment on your gingerbread house story. We bought one those kits ages ago at Target, $10 I'm sure. Do you know, we wrapped that thing in two layers of Saran Wrap, then put it in a paper bag and stored it in the cool basement, and the next Christmas, it was still good as new?!
And as for places to go no matter what the season - Disneyworld!

ethelmaepotter! said...

Oh, forgot to add, I adore Portable North Pole!

Deb Shucka said...

I like offering Virginia as the answer to a question that has no easy answers. A sweet and tender post.

Barrie said...

Happy New Year, Kelly! I kind of think my 10 year old daughter is keeping Santa alive for my sake. :)