When Do We Kill the Magic?

I’ve been reading debates lately on Santa Claus and how and when and whether parents tell their kids about Santa Claus.  It’s an interesting conversation and honestly it’s an interesting concept.  This idea of magic is an interesting thing to consider.  A few years ago, I had a conversation with a very dear friend who has raised her kids without Santa.  She felt very betrayed and lied to when she discovered that Santa wasn’t real. For me, honestly I don’t get that.  Maybe this is because I knew my Mom was Santa at age 5 or so when I realized her handwriting was the same as Santa’s.  I continued to keep up the pretense with my brother, who was 9 when he finally decided Santa wasn’t real.

This year, one of JujuBean’s classmates has apparently been telling everyone Santa isn’t real.  JujuBean asked me about it and my reply is the same as it’s been for years.  What do you think?  We’ve talked about Saint Nicholas and the spirit of Christmas being what Santa is about.  It’s not about a man in a red suit, it’s about giving.  But, I’m not going to tell her Santa isn’t real.  There’s a very simple reason for that… the world is a mean, cold, hard place sometimes.  I think that we all benefit from the belief that magic can happen.  But, let me explain that before people jump in to argue.  First, let’s talk about magic.

I am not talking about witchcraft and magicians.  No Harry Potter figures into this conversation.  I’m talking about the magic we experienced as children.  And I don’t mean just me, or just Westerners.  I’m talking about every single child worldwide.  Magic is, quite simply, something that happens that we don’t understand.  Ask a child where thunder comes from… if they know about God, you may get a wildly imaginative answer.  You know, like God is bowling.  That’s the sound of his bowling ball hitting the pins.  In other words, imagination is the way that a child explains magical occurrences in their world.

Adults know that the sun comes up everyday.  Most of us can even give a simple explanation for it.  But does that really help our children understand better?  For a child nearly everything is seen through eyes full of magic and wonder.  So why do we want them to grow up faster?  Why do we want to take away that sense of magic?  In fact, why do some of us want to keep this idea of magic out of children’s lives in the first place?

It seems to me that some people have gotten so wrapped up in the Harry Potter culture we live in that they’ve lost sight of the fact that magical doesn’t equal witchcraft.  And that, to me, is terribly sad.  After all, keeping the magical view of the world, the idea that there are things that we don’t understand, from our children limits their lives so much.  Those who know the Beans and I know that imagination is exceptionally valuable to me.  As a result, I absolutely want them to believe that magic exists.  I want them to embrace many explanations for things before teaching them the scientific explanation for it.  I believe, very strongly, that this belief in magic can help them expand their horizons and give them a willingness to consider creative alternatives and solutions to problems. But, it’s actually something more important than that.

The ability to believe in something that we don’t understand, I’m calling it “magic,” is the same foundation belief that allows us to have faith in something that we can’t see, hear, or touch.  Belief in Christ and in the Bible comes from knowing that we don’t know everything and believing that “magic” is possible.  For if we know everything and science explains all, where exactly does faith come in?  So, for the Beans, I neither tell them that Santa does exist nor that he doesn’t.  I let them believe in the magic as long as they want knowing that it is giving them an ability to imagine, to create, and to have faith in things that they can’t quantify directly.

And in answer to the pesky Santa problem, I encourage each of you to read this letter from a mother to her daughter.  It is far more eloquently put than I ever could.  I hope you’ll enjoy it…  The closing of the letter is so powerful to me that I’m sharing it here.  I hope you’ll read the whole text, though… “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.”  (Would that the Beans’ classmates would leave well enough alone, especially those who don’t even share the same faith background ;).)

In honor of the season, I’m wishing you…

Happy Magic!

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6 thoughts on “When Do We Kill the Magic?

  1. In the words of Arthur C. Clarke, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” For kids, it doesn’t take much.

      • I wondered if you were thinking of me (and hoping my lil one hadn’t been an accidental bean-spiller). Managing the magic of life is an important skill for a mom – few do it as well as you and the author, and season of the year.

      • Yes, I was thinking of you and of course your little one didn’t spill any beans. It was one of Juliana’s classmates at school. Who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Sigh. 😉

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