Don’t stop believin’, hold on to the feelin’, famous Journey lyrics, and words just about everyone can sing along to when the chorus hits…and also my mantra during the holidays. My boys are 8 and 9 years old now, and unfortunately the realization that their unfailing belief in the “magic” fables of the holiday days may be numbered weighs on me.
December 23rd 2015, I brought the newspaper in as my habit and began flipping through the sections when something disturbing caught my eye. I quickly removed a section of the paper, hid it in my bedroom and went about my day with my children. My boys were home and the offending section of the paper declared in big bold font on the front page, “BELIEVE! Below, the percentages of children, by age, who say Santa Claus is real, according to a 2011 study”….the article is a fine read, but since both my then 7 and 9 year olds can read, I did not think reading the article would help their belief in Santa flourish. In case you are wondering only 33% of 9-year-olds still believe in fantasy figures, including Santa and the Easter Bunny, and apparently only 83% of 5-year-olds. (These statistics are based on a 2011 study conducted by Jacqueline Woodley, a psychology professor at the University of Texas.) While I know my friend’s 10-year-old no longer believes; I was still shocked at how quickly the end of innocence comes for so many others.
Why am I writing about this now in April? For a couple of reasons, one, April doesn’t have any fantasy figures that we as parents have to mastermind on a grand scale, two, I just found the article again tucked away in my closet during my spring cleaning, and three, I thought I had blown it on Easter Bunny this year. Every year I’ve “hidden” eggs around the house or yard, depending on our location, and watched the wonder and the chaos of the Easter egg hunt. This year, as we were planning a very busy Sunday, which included attending a helicopter egg drop, I opted not to hide any eggs. I figured the eggs from the helicopter would be enough – I was so WRONG! My youngest had lots of questions and obvious disappointment about why, why, why the Easter Bunny did not hide eggs like he ALWAYS does. Crap! Mommy fail. I do like to think my quick-witted explanation and then later save of hiding some very special well-hidden eggs around the house erased the early morning disappointment, but I’m not sure if I left any lingering doubts in their minds. Obviously, it’s hard to ask too. And if the Easter Bunny isn’t really real, then I know Santa won’t be real either and another great myth of childhood will no longer exist in our house.
One of these days it will happen. I know we are getting closer and closer as my boys come home from school talking about how so-and-so doesn’t believe but every holiday I hope for just one more year of pure blind belief. Don’t stop believin’, please hold on to that feelin’ of innocence and possibility and the beautiful enchantment of magic.