Saturday, November 29, 2014

Make Believe...or In This House We Do What The Elf Says

My kids still both believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny.  They are 11 and 9.  Judge if you like.  I firmly believed until I was at least 12.  I never asked my parents.  They never volunteered the information. It was more like a gradual understanding that we came to that we were all pretending.   My mom still put the Christmas presents out after we went to bed like "Santa" did until we left home.  And I turned out okay.  I'm happily married, have a Master's degree, and am firmly rooted in reality today - probably more so than a lot of people I deal with on a daily basis.  I would definitely call myself neither a optimist or a pessimist, but a realist.  Except - and this is huge - when I read or watch t.v. or go to a movie.  Then I find myself totally immersed in the "let's pretend" world of whatever book or show I'm watching. Suspension of disbelief is necessary for even superior fiction.  And make believe is still the best fun there is.

Pretending is great.  As long as you know that's what it is.  As in "I'm going to read this book about this world that's completely made up.  Some of the things in this book don't even exist in real life.  But while the author is writing it and while I'm reading it, we're all going to pretend it's real.  If we all pretend and we all know it, but we totally commit, it will be the best fun there is." It's the people who don't realize they're pretending that have problems, in my opinion. As in, "Everything is fine in my relationship.  It doesn't mean anything that we scream at each other and someone ends up in tears every night."  Pretending about what is real is much more dangerous than when everyone is pretending about what we all know is make believe.

The thing is, my daughter who is 11, has never asked me if Santa is real.  I'm sure other kids have told her he's not.  I know she didn't believe the other kids when she was younger.  But I think she has made the conscious decision at this point to play along now because she loves the idea that magic could be real.  It's the best fun if we all commit.  Her younger brother still believes and she doesn't want to ruin it for him.  And if we all believe in the little universe of our family, it will be the best fun if we all pretend.
When I was a kid, I didn't get along well with kids who couldn't pretend very well. When I had friends over to play, I was always the last one to abandon playing house or with dolls or the mystery detective game we were playing.  Everyone tired of it before me.  I remember wanting to play with my dolls one night when I was about 14 and knowing I really was too old for that, but still...

So we'll continue with Santa and the Easter Bunny.  The Elf on the Shelf came back this year as well. I know there are lots of haters out there for the Elf.  Save it.  My kids like it.  We've never used it as the standard elf tattling on the kids to Santa.  It's always been more about the surprise of the different scenario each morning.   And I think that even after neither believe anymore, I'll continue to haul out the old make-believe and hold with tradition.  And a part of them will still love it.  

That being said, our elf came back the day after Thanksgiving.  "She" left us a special little breakfast that morning.  It's amazing what a clearance tablecloth and some decorations from last year's after Christmas sale can do.

The next day we found her like this with a note:

So that's what we did.  In this house we do what the elf says.


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