This is one of those moments that most parents, and many grandparents, vividly recall. It has been termed as one of the passages of childhood and I suppose that it correct. Who doesn’t remember leaving the cookies and milk and either drinking the milk or pouring it back in the carton? Eating the cookies, of course, making sure to leave a few crumbs and I admit that I didn’t mind the, “You have to go to bed or Santa won’t come,” line.
You know the question is going to be asked, but not whether it will be a pensive question, an indignant one, a hey-did-you know one, or some other form. In my case, it was a two-part event. One of my son’s older friends (often that or a sibling) had in a typical older kid fashion assured my son that it was all a story. I wouldn’t say he was upset, but there was a discernible level of concern. I wasn’t really prepared for it and weasled with, “Well, what do you think?” In that few minutes as my son said, “It would be hard for Santa to get to all those houses in one night,” I thought, Okay, this is it. “But maybe his sled really has a jet engine,” he concluded, satisfied with that as a solution. Whew!, I’d made it for at least another year.
In actuality, I believe it was two years before he solemnly announced in early December that it was okay, he understood who really brought presents. He was ready at that point and we talked very briefly about the fun of Santa Claus even if he wasn’t real. There is a poignancy however fleeting, in having that conversation, and that is part of the enduring affection for, “Miracle on 34th Street”. (I confess that I still love the 1947 version, although the 1994 one is good.)
So for those who still have children who believe in Santa, enjoy it while it lasts and don’t be embarrassed if you feel a twinge of loss when that little piece of magic disappears.