My kids still believe in Santa Claus. And I’m glad! I believe it’s necessary!

Well, another Christmas has come and gone. And faster than you can say ‘Bah, humbug!’, the presents that so beautifully adorned the base of our Christmas tree less than 24 hours ago are now opened. Like my parents did with my siblings and me, I tried to convince my children that they should keep their presents under the tree until January 1, when the tree goes back into the box. I lost that battle, at least in part, with my daughter taking most of her gifts to her room and my son… well his toys are all over the house. One, a BMX ramp I bought him so that he would stop asking me–his white collar father– to build him one, is even outside.

If I had to grade the day, I’d give Christmas 2012 an “A”. With all that’s gone on in our country and the world the last few months, being able to hold my children and kiss my wife is gift enough. Sharing some time on the phone with my father, baby sister, and big brother is necessary or the Holiday is not complete. And being able to tell my closest friends how much they mean to me is cherry on top.

That’s not to say I didn’t have my moments of angst and anxiety yesterday and today. Christmas was at our home for the first time in several years. This came after I’d held my annual Bluford Holiday party, started more than a decade ago to honor my mom who passed away in 1998, last weekend, spending more than ten hours preparing among other things collard greens, black eye peas, and my now famous rum cake. But like is normally the case when I’m stressed about something, as soon as the company arrived, my fears dissipated to a more than tolerable steady state. My wife’s brother had to stay home to attend to his sick infant, so the only guests were my wife’s parents and her sister’s family.

But as soon as I began to feel relaxed, the stress returned. We’d planned to have dinner, hang out a little, then retire to bed so the kids could get up early and open their presents. I had to fight for that because, as some of you may know, for Hispanics that is a deviation from the norm. Every year for more than a decade probably and definitely since we’ve had children, we’ve gone to Bela and Belo’s (grandma and grandpa’s) home for Christmas. Like most Hispanic families (my wife is from El Salvador), presents are opened at midnight. For black folks—at least me—we open them in the morning, usually EARLY in the morning, waking our parents from a dead sleep with screams and yells that ‘He came! He came! So how, I’ve always asked my wife, do kids believe in Santa Claus? She never really had an answer, but it was fine with me. It was fine because each year we’d return to our home some time after Christmas–usually either the 26th or 27th. And at our home, under the tree or by the fireplace, there would be one or two presents from Santa because “he only has home addresses on record.” So, again, it was no big deal. Their belief in Santa Claus remained intact.

This year it was a little more difficult. As I said, we’d planned to go to bed, then wake in the morning to open gifts. But sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve the plans changed. And all of a sudden I found myself trying to figure out how I was going to keep the secret of Santa alive. So after all of the kids went to bed, finally at about 3 am, I went out to my car and brought all of Santa’s gifts in, including some new sneakers he got for me and my wife, one of the benefits of believing as an adult. J

Why all the trouble, you ask? Because I want my kids to believe in Santa for as long as possible, that’s why.

A lot of people think it’s stupid. Some of my friends have never allowed their kids to believe in Santa, claiming among other things that they either want the credit for the gifts or that the real reason for Christmas is Jesus Christ. I understand both of those rationales. But to me, it’s not about that. You can still take credit for some, if not most, of the gifts. You can even mark the bigger ticket items as gifts from mom and dad, giving credit to Santa for lower priced one or two. Trust me, kids don’t know the difference. And as long as you make it clear that we are celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, it is entirely possible to segregate the two (the Holi-day versus the Sacred day).

But there is another important reason I want my kids to believe in Jolly St. Nick for as long as possible. This belief is one of the last tools our children have in the development of what I call the “dream muscle”. We’re all born with it and begin to develop it to some degree at a very young age. We believe our parents are super heroes and it grows a little. We believe in the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny and it grows a little more. And yes, we believe in Santa Claus. This is the same muscle, I argue, that we need later in life when we dream of playing professional sports, or going to law school, or being president of the United States. It is the same muscle that gets us up in the morning with a belief and determination that we can do anything we want, be anything we want.

But if not developed enough or for long enough, our dream muscles don’t gain enough strength. They can even atrophy. They, therefore, cannot withstand the inevitable difficulties that all dreams–at least all dreams worth having–encounter. Accomplishing great things in life requires that we have this dream muscle fully developed. But like a tree that needs a little help standing up or a baby in a walker or a knee that is recovering from surgery, our dream muscle needs help in the early stages of development. Allowing our children to dream about Santa is akin to a knee brace that an athlete requires shortly after surgery. The athlete needs the brace until his knee gains enough strength and his mind is confident it can survive without it. Our kids need to believe in Santa– believe in anything really– for as long as possible so that when they finally succumb to reality and realize Santa Claus is not real, their dream muscle is strong enough to allow them to dream about bigger and better things. And whether it’s a dream to one day go to the moon, or to find a cure for cancer, when they hear people tell them “that’s not possible” or “that’s a dream; it’s not reality” (sounds a lot ‘Santa’s not real), they’ll be prepared to fend them off.

I sure hope my kids will. They’ll be whatever they want to be in life, however big. They’ll be a BMX racer and NFL player (like my son beieves; he ruled out MLB and the NBA because they play ‘too many games and he doesn’t want to be away from his family that much’) or they’ll be an author and illustrator (like my daughter believes). They believe they will be and do those things. Just like they believe Santa brought a BMX ramp and huge lego set last night and didn’t leave before eating his milk and cookies. Because like they do now still (at ages 8 and 6) and like their dad has always…. They believe!

And because they still believe, I’ll change the grade I give Christmas 2012. Let’s make that A an A+!


About bbluford
I am an executive finance professional with a love for process and application development (MS Access, Excel, Quickbooks), mostly as it relates to Accounting and Business Functions. I also love to write and share ideas with other people in this world. I'm an admitted Gym Rat who works out excessively. The best summation of me is that I love to teach and to learn.

7 Responses to Santa

  1. Ron Johnson says:

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. bbluford says:

    Anytime, Ron. Hope you had a fantastic Christmas.

  3. Jim Mallamace says:

    It’s great to be able to see Christmas, again, through the eyes of children. God bless you and your family, Bobby.

  4. A dream creates excitement, excitement increases our happy hormones.
    I agree the dream muscle should be worked out regularly!
    Happy Holiday’s to you

  5. bbluford says:

    Thanks, Running Hurdles! You are right. I forgot where I read it, but a dream needs to excite you to get you outta bed in the morning! 🙂

  6. Julie says:

    Bobby, been sick since Christmas with bronchitis and catching up today on all of backlogged messages. Thank you for this. WE ALL need to read this and be/remain dreamers!! Best of luck, lots of love in 2013. Happy new year…….j

    • Bobby Bluford says:

      Happy New Year, Julie. Get Better! Big things in 2013! I can feel it.

      Bobby Bluford Improvement Addict! Connect with me on LinkedIn Follow me on Twitter @BobbyBluford

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