the santa talk

by Ms. Joy

This morning, on our walk to school in the chill mist Miss N and I did our usual of jumping on the curb and scurrying down the hill when the mist carried the phantom sounds of the bus. A casual comment about pirate weather and Miss N’s ever curious mind was piqued. Christopher Columbus, pirates and the possibility we saw a real pirate ship in the harbour this summer were all  part of our morning walk. She’s an interesting child, able to make connections and she remembers just about everything. We make this trek every day. We don’t always talk about the huge things (Canada is cool to live in because we make good food, she can climb the entire length of the monkey bars), but sometimes we do.

For a six year old, she is one rational kid. She works at the words she uses, teasing them out and playing with the feel of each letter. Miss N is an observer and an inquisitive one at that. Early last week we did our usual scramble to get out the door and then we fell into step in mist similar to this morning’s offering. Miss N had just hopped onto the curb and was tugging gently at a wayward tree branch that reaches out to us each morning. It doesn’t feel like Christmas yet, the brief snow we had has melted away into groggy puddles and any colourful lights just seem to be trying oh so very hard at this point. A brief moment to listen for the bus. She was probably moulding her question together, carefully cobbling together the separate thoughts. Or she wasn’t.

“Mommy, how does Santa get all the toys to all the children in the world? One night doesn’t seem like enough. Who would make all that stuff?”

This was it. That rational mind of hers had already gone to work on the Santa conundrum. She was never much of a Santa kid. She didn’t trust the folks at the mall so she has never sat on Santa’s lap. Last year, I gave her a gift labelled “love, Santa”; she rolled her eyes and thanked me. Pulling anything over on this kid is an exercise to be performed only by a professional.

“Well baby, I think with magical creatures who live in magic land, anything is possible.”

She harumphed at me like an 80 year old woman.

Creativity lives in magic land and it comes out to greet us and sway our selves. All those magical creatures, from fairy tales to religions to anything that doesn’t exist here no matter how we wish it so, it all lives in Magic Land. Because there it is safe and they can live the life of a magic creature without impunity. Magic Land is really just imagination, but it needs to somewhere to go so that we can call upon it when needed.

“May I tell you a story? It takes place a long time ago, before children asked for Hello Kitty stereos and even before Mommy or Daddy were born. It’s about a man, one single man who made the decision to be kind, because baby, sometimes it takes a lot to be kind rather than mean. This man’s name was Nicholas and he lived in a country we now call Turkey, I’ll show you on the globe when you get home. Nicholas was a priest, that means he was like a leader for the people who believed the same things he did, those people are called Catholic, he may have been Orthodox. Sometimes, when a long time passes the details get fuzzy.

Anyway, Nicholas would secretly give gifts to people who didn’t have as much as other people. He would stick gold coins into people’s shoes when they were left outside the door and he gave toys and food to children. The thing is, he always did it secretly so no one would know it was him. This kindness and giving followed him everywhere and when he died, he became known as Saint Nicholas and his story made its way all across Europe and soon people started giving gifts to one another, pretending to be Saint Nicholas.”

Miss N quietly listened and when I finished she had only one question: Is Santa this Saint Nicholas?

I think  she enjoys holding this kernel of knowledge in her little hand, held tight with sparkly hot pink nails. She confirmed with her Daddy a few days later but now she is in on the conspiracy of adults and has already decreed that Boy will be none the wiser because he’s so little.