This year, my grandson discovered the “truth” about that jolly old man in red. He’s nine, surely old enough to already have guessed what has been going on.
And due to regular church-going and discussions about the faith, he is aware of the real meaning of Christmas, and can tell you the Bethlehem story (especially the part about the angels!) with few pauses. So when my daughter inadvertently mentioned the subject, then realized that she would have to ‘fess up, we assumed it would be no big deal. We were wrong.
Grandson flipped into a half-grieving, half-angry mode at his mother, and didn’t speak to her for a full day. And when he came to our house for a sleepover, he was still livid. “Why?” I asked, hoping to start a meaningful discussion. Grandson had no real answer. He was just…sad. And there was more: “Does this mean my mom and dad have been lying to me since I was born?”
It was grim. None of my children had reacted in this way, and I was at a loss. I fell back on the tradition that Grandson was now part of a great and wonderful conspiracy, a secret so delightful that almost everyone keeps it for the sake of the wonder in a little child’s eyes. Grandson was slightly mollified, but still shaky. So I did what I do quite frequently—I asked the angels for wisdom.
Within minutes, I had a question in my mind. “Tell me,” I asked Grandson, “if you had been given a choice way back then, to either believe, or not believe, what would you have chosen?”
Silence fell, as Grandson pondered. Expressions flitted across his face. Memories of dark mornings bursting into light, excitement, new traditions…or perhaps a simple explanation that “we don’t do it this way…” Which was best?
I wish I could give you a final answer, but I can’t. Today Grandson is“ pretty sure” that he’d rather have the memories than not have them. But it’s still been slow-going. This issue was far more meaningful to Grandson than any of us had guessed. I’d be very happy to hear other moms’ opinions on this.