I almost blew it today. I almost told David there was no Santa Claus, or Tooth Fairy, or Easter Bunny. The practical, cynical, depressed side of my brain (the left) challenged the creative, optimistic, slightly manic side (the right) to a duel. For most of the afternoon, the left was winning.
I asked myself, why am I feeding my kids this Disney, make-believe crap that will make their fall to reality all the more crushing? Why encourage them to dream, when they’ll have to wake up to an alarm clock soon enough? The same rational voice that thinks it’s stupid to make a bed in the morning that you’ll sleep in again that night, who calls up family members to say “no gifts this year, right?,” and who doesn’t go grocery shopping because the planet is going to burn up anyway (whether or not we eat) wants to put the kibosh on the whole world of imagination because “life is difficult,” the first three words of M. Scott Peck’s classic, “The Road Less Traveled.”
But then I noticed the sheer delight on my five-year-old’s face as he watched five passenger cars round the corner of a magnificent holiday train display at Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville, Maryland. He clearly caught a whiff of the Christmas spirit, as did his little sister, who stood in front of the nautical-themed Christmas tree mesmerized by the mermaid ornaments and aqua tinsel.
How could I deprive them of this wonder?
I thought about a world without poetry, art, romance, and (ACK!) Disney. Standing there with David and his trains and Katherine and her mermaid tree, I remembered the words of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church when he answered eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon’s question on whether or not there was a Santa Claus.
“Yes, Virginia,” he wrote, “there is a Santa Claus. He exists certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy…. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see…. Thank God! He lives, and he lives forever.”