As a "good" Jewish mother, I blurted out "Santa isn't real!" when Munch and I were looking at the Christmas stamps from the stamp catalog today. But as soon as the words left my mouth, my heart twinged with regret. Instantly, I felt confused about my own big mouth and the regret I felt. Maybe because deep down I know Munch is still young enough to believe in the magic and fun of a holiday that we celebrate with her father, even though it's not our holiday. Maybe because I felt a little guilty by force feeding the truth on an innocent two year old, when she wasn't even questioning the authenticity of Santa. Or maybe, it was because my own mother told me she would bring gifts from Santa because she didn't want me to feel left out, and I know that that sweetness never caused me to be less Jewish.
The image of Munch jumping up and down, excited yelling, " Did Santa bring me these?" flashed through my mind followed by a dark gray cloud that quickly erased any sweet innocence. My big mouth had just stolen a little of the joy and excitement that could have been intoxicating and amazing to watch this Christmas -- one of many she will celebrate with her father, grandfather, and friends. My big mouth just ruined the first Christmas where Munch would be able to grasp the anticipation of Christmas morning and the excitement of believing this is what Santa brought to her. Her first Christmas where believing in something not real would have been fun and wonderful and non-harmful to her not-quite-existent budding Jewish identity.
And I felt sad and disappointed that I had stolen that moment from my soon-to-be three year old. I had stolen that moment from her dad. I had stolen that moment even from myself.
Ironically, not even 15 minutes later, Annie shared this letter a woman wrote explaining Santa to her child. Maybe if I had read this first, I would have not opened my big mouth. Actually, I know I wouldn't have because I would have been reminded that Santa is more than just Christmas. Hanukkah Harry is more than just Hanukkah. After all, it doesn't matter what holiday we celebrate, if we celebrate at all, even. But when we partake in gift giving, especially when we give to children, we are all on Santa's or Hanukkah Harry's team. So thank you to this mother who put it so eloquently and wonderfully. I'm just so sorry I didn't read your letter 15 minutes sooner.