Dear Max and Jack,
Christmas is only two days and a wake-up away! You are beyond excited. After kissing me your first move every morning to tear a link off the paper chain that counts down the days. All that’s left is red-green-red. This chain disappeared so quickly for me, but from your perspective, it was endless. Our experiences of time are so different. For me it flies, for you it crawls. I remember feeling that drag as a child, always waiting for lift off. But now, oh darlings, you won’t believe how crazy it feels for me to jettison at light speed through life. I feel like I’m on a rocket zooming quicker than I ever expected. Slow down, I want to holler. This is the good stuff.
You won’t read this letter for years to come, but right now you are seven and six years old, and I have a sense that this will be the most magical Christmas of your childhood. When people talk about the magic of Christmas, they pretend they don’t mean Santa, but that’s usually what it’s about. Eager faces of anticipation. Delight unwrapping presents. The thought that regular life is suspended and we just might get anything we want.
You are still believers.
At least as much as you ever were. I’ve been wishy-washy about talking about Santa with you, because I remember the keen stab of betrayal I felt when I found out the truth. I hesitated to tell you the lie, but compromised by deemphasizing it. I have never taken you to sit on Santa’s lap or encouraged you write a Christmas list. But I use special wrapping paper for North Pole presents and disguise my handwriting on the tags. (You read now.) Max, since last year, you have mentioned that you might not believe in Santa. You are a natural born skeptic like your Dad. You only asked me one time if Santa was real. I don’t have the heart to push a lie beyond your detector, so I countered with a question,
“Do you want to believe?”
You thought about it and said yes, then ran off to play.
That reading thing you both do now is also poking holes in Santa’s story. You saw that toy boxes were made in China, and Jack, you noticed that the red hand-crank flashlight Rudolf gave your came last year came from IKEA. Oh bother! Daddy and I just let these observations fall to the floor.
But this is a letter about real magic.
Max, yesterday I caught a glimpse of you slumped on the couch, a book resting on your bent knees. Next to you the air was humming with the smallest vibration from your moving lips. Jack, everyday I find you in the backyard playing full scale football games all by yourself except for the imaginary players you dodge and weave between for touchdowns. Both of you have eaten your lunch on the blue table outside for the past few days. As soon as I place the plates down and go to fetch the milk, I hear, “Father, Son, Holy Spirit…” as you bless your food without prompting.
The magic I feel at Christmas is simply the miracle of your existence.
You know that angels trumpeted the birth of Jesus, but did you know they heralded your births too? I know; I was there. I heard the awe of a miracle when the world went silent in reverence of your new life. I heard the jingling of bells in the applause at the sound of your voice. You might not have noticed, what with that cry you let out as your skin felt the breeze of air for the first time. It was pure magic. A poof like the big bang that set off an explosion of love that only grows with you.
You know how I always tell you I love you as much as the ever-expanding universe? That’s true, and that’s magic.
At Christmas with the twinkling lights, confections of sugar, and the time, time, time we have together, the magic we always live in is a little closer to the surface. It’s as tangible as the hugs your squirm in and out of. That magic is perhaps the only real thing I know. It’s what I believe in.
Merry Christmas, my sweet boys!