I read Catherine a biography of St. Nicholas tonight. Now I'm not sure how accurate it was because we both gave each other skeptical glances when we learned St. Nicholas was distributing real gold coins to sailors through dreams but heck, we did get some general details of the man.
Why were we reading this you ask? Okay, you probably didn't ask that because you assumed it was a christmassy thing we were doing and yes it is but the real answer is that Catherine KNOWS.
You know what I mean. About the big guy in the red suit? The whole, "He's not real thing."
It happened yesterday over Key To Decimals. She was adding decimal numbers like nobody's business when she asked, "Who is Santa Claus?"
"Who do you think?" I lamely asked.
"You and Dad," She said.
I told her she was right. She held her smile and started back to work but her chin was just a bit unsteady so I told her to come over and we hugged and she broke down.
I felt like such a heel.
After she was feeling a bit less horrible we had a long talk. We talked about Santa and myths and legends, about rites of passage, about how she was now a part of the whole Santa fellowship. Also about NORAD and puberty. Um, trust me, they were related to the subject at hand. Sort of.
But just knowing wasn't enough. Finding out about Santa IS a rite of passage and as such needs some ceremony. So we read about St. Nicholas and some of the other characters like Black Peter that contributed to our modern idea of Santa. We also talked about the spirit of Santa Claus and Catherine came up with a way to honour that by making cookies for the gas station employees who helped us out a few posts ago. And of course she's going to help wrap Santa gifts and toys for her brothers stocking. She's happy again and beginning to cherish her new role.
If I had it all to do over again I'm really not sure that I would have done the Santa thing. It's not something I've always been very comfortable but, at the same time, I do remember how it felt to believe when I was a kid and the magic surrounding that. Maybe even with fictional characters it's sometimes better to have loved and lost than never to have believed at all?