She stood in her Christmas pajamas, voice quivering, and asked, “Mom, is Sally real?”
Well, crap. I knew this day was close & yet I still wasn’t ready.
So I asked her, “What do you think?”
A sob escaped, tears streamed down her face, “I don’t think she’s real! My reindeer has plastic in her antlers, and she’s stuffed, and her necklace never changes to full or empty! And her tag said Made in China, that’s not the North Pole! So how can Sally be real?!”
We took a deep breath and invited her to come snuggle between us for The Conversation.
“We’ve always told you the truth when you asked, right? This is no different. But just like always I’m going to tell you this answer comes with weight and I need to know if you’re ready for it.”
She hesitated, “I am, but I want to still believe!” Then she squeaked out, “Tell me.”
So we began, “Sally the elf *IS* real, but in a different way than you have believed up until tonight. She is responsible for helping keep the magic of Christmas alive, for keeping Christmas spirit up. But,” I breathed deep, this was harder than I’d anticipated, “you’re about to join a very special, very elite club of Christmas Spirit. You see your elf *is* real. You can see her, she’s real. But she’s not alive. All her magic, all that excitement is made by Mom & Dad. Because we’ve been part of the Christmas Spirit Club for a long time.”
We paused, to let it sink in. Letting her process. “Now, you are part of the spirit of Christmas. Spreading joy, and cheer but you get to enjoy the magic from another side! So I need you to raise you hand & repeat after me,”
The Christmas Spirit Club Oath
I Kid 1, do solemnly swear I am ready for the responsibility of the Christmas Spirit Club.
I understand that I am responsible for continuing the magic for those that have not yet joined the club.
I will only talk to Mom & Dad about this club and I will never break the magic for others.
I will continue my own Christmas Spirit in new ways.
The tears had subsided a bit, but her eyes still held questions. We weren’t done yet. “Kid, are you ready for your full induction to The Club? To see how we’ve kept Sally bringing joy this whole time?” A spark of intrigue overshadowed the doubt as she slowly nodded her head. “Remember,” I said, “this is for members only.”
She nodded her head vigorously. We took her hand & led her to the Elf Closet. (Because, yes, I LOVE the elf. And we’ve been elfing for over 8 years. And every year after Christmas I hit up clearance and get so many elf accessories—for cheap.) I stood her beside me and in true Vanna White fashion whipped open the closet doors. And her jaw dropped.
“Mom!?” Was all she squealed out as her face lit up with the biggest grin I’ve ever seen! This was the moment I’ve been looking forward to!
“Yup. This is the Elf Closet. This is where we collect all the things that have helped us make Sally so magical. See, here are all her clothes? And this is her hot air balloon, Daddy made. This is all the stuff for this year’s Hot Cocoa Bar…” Her smile was huge! “Now that you know the truth about Sally, and you’ve taken the pledge, YOU get to help us each night!”
“Yes, that’s part of being on this side of the magic, it’s just as much fun, just in a different way! Now each night after your siblings are in bed, we can plan ways to surprise & amaze them with Sally & her friends. Welcome aboard!”
The follow up questions.
What will happen when we’re ALL on the other side?
- Well, how old are you, almost 10? So if Brother lasts as long as you did, he’s got 4 years. And if we keep the magic for Sis as long that’s SIX years! You’ll be sixteen by then! And guess what? We can each take a turn every night! So it’s still a surprise for the rest of us! I love surprises! But I also love creating the surprise, right? So there’s still Christmas Spirit!
What about Santa? Wait, he has to be real, never mind!
- We dodged that bullet tonight, but I know it’s not far off. But I’ve got this little story in my back pocket for that day. This story encompasses the magic of becoming Santa by giving to those who need it, without taking the credit. It’s beautiful and magical and the perfect induction to Becoming Santa .