A few months back, the Tooth Fairy got busted. She left a note for Alice up on her computer, and Lucy figured the whole business out. The Tooth Fairy cursed her need to write notes in elaborate fonts and tried to come up with a cover story, but it didn’t fool Lucy.
To her credit, Lucy has kept the secret from her little sister, who still hasn’t lost a tooth and deserves to wake up with money under her pillow.
But the Tooth Fairy knew it couldn’t be too long before Santa was similarly unmasked. She didn’t know when or how, but she knew the days of magic in her house, at least magic of a certain sort, were coming to an end.And the Tooth Fairy—by which I mean myself—was pretty darned sad about the inevitable, which finally arrived last week.
Lucy and I have been exchanging notes since the school year started. We’ve talked about all sorts of things—sports, books we’d like to read, adventures we’d like to have, even stories from when I was in third grade. For the most part, though, it’s been light, casual stuff. Until last week.I NEED TO KNOW, she wrote, using capital letters for emphasis. ARE YOU SANTA? TELL ME THE TRUTH.
What do you do when your kid asks for the truth? You tell it, of course, doing your best to figure out a way that keeps at least some of the magic intact.Here’s what I wrote:
Thank you for your letter. You asked a very good question: “Are you Santa?”
I know you’ve wanted the answer to this question for a long time, and I’ve had to give it careful thought to know just what to say.The answer is no. I am not Santa. There is no one Santa.
I am the person who fills your stockings with presents, though. I also choose and wrap the presents under the tree, the same way my mom did for me, and the same way her mom did for her. (And yes, Daddy helps, too.)I imagine you will someday do this for your children, and I know you will love seeing them run down the stairs on Christmas morning. You will love seeing them sit under the tree, their small faces lit with Christmas lights.
This won’t make you Santa, though.Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch.
It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.Santa is a teacher, and I have been his student, and now you know the secret of how he gets down all those chimneys on Christmas Eve: he has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy.
With full hearts, people like Daddy and me take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible.So, no. I am not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too.
I love you and I always will.Mama