The magic is in believing


Mt. Pleasant News

I know; I know the big secret about Christmas.

That is what my 12-year-old niece whispered in my ear a couple of weeks ago as she stood, not quite on her tippy-toes next to me.

I had met up with my sister, her husband and their three kids - ages 12, eight and five - to watch a movie. Outside the theatre, Santa?s workshop had been set up and since there was no line, it seemed the perfect time for the kiddos to give the big man in red their Christmas wish lists.

?I know,? she said, ?about Santa and the Easter bunny and ??

?Think about what you?re going to say,? I said throwing my arm around her shoulder and pulling her close. ?Just because you think you know, don?t ruin the magic of the season for someone else.?

In all honesty, I wasn?t worried about her ruining Christmas for her siblings. They were too far away to hear and she?s a great big sister; a very protective one. I just didn?t want to hear the words out loud. I didn?t want to hear her say she didn?t believe.

?Don?t ruin the magic of it for me,? I said tightening my grip on her.

She looked perplexed.

?I know you still don?t believe in him,? she quipped back.

She?s right, in the literal sense. I had the same conversation with my sister when I was 10. I started asking when she no longer believed in Santa and the Easter bunny and when our brother stopped believing. My sister tried to dodge my question, but I was persistent. And finally, she gave me some of the best advice of my life.

?Karyn, it?s your choice what to believe. Don?t compare yourself to anyone else. And don?t lose your imagination because you think you?re too old.?

At the time, I didn?t hear my sister. I was, much like my niece, ready to grow up. I wanted to be 25 instead of 10, making my own decisions and living my own life. I felt the time for childish games and illusions was over.

I remember packing up my stuffed animals into garbage bags and hauling them upstairs next to the Barbies, that had made a similar trip to the ill-illuminated attic after a girl called me a baby for playing with dolls, five years earlier.

Now, 15 years later, I?m trying to tell her daughter the same thing, and that?s not to lose her childlike wonder. I want my niece to believe in magic. I want her to believe that Narnia could be right inside her closet and that someone besides her parents will be eating the milk and cookies she and her siblings will set out on Christmas Eve.

As we get older, we?re more aware of reality. We see the violence in the world, the poverty and the despair. I want my nieces and nephews, and really children in general, to keep their imagination, innocence and wonderment as long as possible because when you believe in magic you?re hopeful and couldn?t we all use a little more hope these days?