By Katie Moosbrugger

It’s still November but the inevitable conversation about Santa’s existence has already come up. We have five weeks to go and I’m grasping for straws on how to contain the magic.  Here’s why:

The other day I was out shopping with my kids and my daughter’s friend, who for anonymity sake, we’ll call Sally. Sally, who is seven years old like my daughter, is a sweet girl who has an older sibling and just happens to know a little bit more about life than I want my daughter to know – at least for now.

On the way home I was feeling festive so I popped in a Christmas CD, and my daughter squealed, “Oh my gosh, they’re already playing Christmas music on the radio!” After that, there was some chatter from the back on the van which I couldn’t make out, and then I heard my daughter, Emily, exclaim, “What? How can you not believe in Santa? I’ve heard the jingle bells from his sleigh on my roof AND I’ve heard the scratches from his reindeer. Even my mom said she’s heard the same thing when she was my age! How do you explain that?”

Sally replied, “I don’t know. I just think it’s our parents who bring us presents, not Santa.” As soon as I heard that, I turned off the CD and tried to change the subject. But my efforts were thwarted.

After a brief – and random – effort to talk to Sally about her new dance class, Emily – from out of nowhere – asks Sally, “Do you want me to teach you the Ten Commandments?” I about crashed into the car in front me! You see, it’s not like Emily to talk religion but she’s immersed in her First Communion readiness classes – and is loving them – so I wasn’t completely shocked to hear her bring this up.

So Sally replied by saying she didn’t need to know the Ten Commandments because she doesn’t go to church. And then Emily started arguing that she does need to know them. So I stepped into the conversation and said, “Sally, that’s OK, but Emily just learned them and wants to recite them.”

At which point Sally responded, “But I don’t believe in God.”

I think there was a collective hush in my mini-van, and then my four-year-old son – of all people – chimed in and exclaimed, “WHAT? You don’t believe in God? What…do you think that some builder guy came in and made Earth out of nothing? Do you think that some builder guy came in and created people and animals???”

Holy cow…this conversation was going places I did not forsee nor did I know how to manage!

With that, my daughter added, “Yea, and if you don’t believe in God and Santa, then you probably don’t believe in the Easter Bunny either. But I KNOW you believe in the Tooth Fairy because it was just at your house!”

Wow. That was the conversation ender. But it was also the beginning of my fears that all this holiday magic might be gone before I know it! Once these conversations start, their minds start piecing it all together. My daughter is in second grade – I thought I had at least three to six more years! Am I over- reacting or is this par for the course?

That said, I remember my first realization that Santa did not exist. I don’t recall how old I was, but I was young enough to still be playing with my doll house when my brother, who is five years older than me, offered me four quarters if I promised to still believe for Mom and Dad’s sake. I gladly accepted the challenge but cannot remember how long I played that card!

For those of you who have gone through this, how many more years do realistically I have? Be honest! And for those of you who are in the same boat as me, how are you prolonging the magic?