My daughter has a little less magic in her life. She’s learned the bitter truth about Santa Claus. She did some good detective work I have to say. She’s had her suspicions for awhile, but I’ve always managed to change the subject without outright lying. Or are you supposed to lie as a good parent? I’m never sure. So, anyway, she woke up at 11:30 pm Christmas Eve with a sore stomach. She got up to find my husband and I lying on the couch watching It’s a Wonderful Life and in some sort of uncharacteristic organizational fit, we’d already finished wrapping the presents, writing the Santa note and stuffing the stockings. And she saw it all. PLUS she had already inadvertently seen a present that same day (albeit, it was for her brother) and it showed up under the tree addressed “From Santa Claus.” So, I had to tell her lest she ruin it for her brothers. She spent Christmas alternately giddy with delight at her presents and quietly weeping with the newfound disappointment. That will be Christmas memory seared into her personal biography. The little knothole that is “The Santa Claus Disappointment.”
I talked to my siblings about it and interestingly every one of them also had the memory of when they learned that terrible truth. It’s like knowing where you were the day John Lennon was shot. Mine was our neighbour stopping by to drop by a present that my parents had obviously asked them to pick up for us. It was already wrapped and cheerily said “From Santa” on it. My sister saw some badminton rackets that showed up “From Santa.”
I don’t think there’s enough magic in our lives. I know, I know, there are the everyday miracles of falling in love, the birth of our children, the kindnesses shown to people in need. I’m not disputing the wonderment that we can find in the everyday. Perhaps I just lack imagination, but I want enchanted castles, characters to step out of our books. Would a little mutant super power be too much to ask? In truth, I have had a few wonderful and creepy coincidences in my life, but I’m not sure that qualifies as magic. I know the saints have to have two miracles attributed to them to be a saint, but I’ve not seen those, just read about them.
It makes me wonder what is this need to have Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny? Why do we create movies, books and mythologies with fairies, witches, elves, superheroes, characters that interact with fictional ones? Why do we need this magic? It is a Jungian thing? Are we externalizing our inner life? Or are we trying to escape for a time the hard unchangeable physics that we must deal with every day? Or do we have a sense that there is an out there out there, something we want to connect with and this is how we try to articulate it?
I would like to hear if you’ve ever experienced directly something that could be called magical or miraculous. Now remember, I said directly. No cousins of a friend of a friend that you knew in grade four. And not something you read about in Ripley’s Believe it or Not or saw on the X-Files.