A year of magic

Santa dress collage

She comes home the other day, saying one friend doesn’t believe in Rudolph and another thinks Santa is really just parents.

She leaves the statements in the air, not wanting confirmation, not wanting, perhaps, to really know.

This is likely it. The last year.

She hops off to play, and I think immediately of the Santa dress she wears when we go get our tree each year.

In 2007, when she was 1, it hung just below her knees and had sleeves that turned into fluffy white cuffs at her wrists. She looked like a cookie elf.

Now, it’s a perfect-sized shirt for a 7 year old — the waist at her hips, the sleeves just above her elbows. You can’t see the back, which has buttons that can no longer be buttoned.

“But I’m not bothered by that,” she says, pausing a beat. “I still like it and promise to wear every year.”

There’s something in her voice, as she thinks at a certain age we will make her stop, instead of pulling the outfit off the shelf and willing it to fit just one more time, one more year — willing the mad genii of innocence to remain for a little longer, for the magic of belief to cloak her imagination and linger over our lives for a few more sweet, sweet years.

The jolly man in a red suit will soon enough retire. Unicorns and wild Pegasi will ground themselves, grazing in unknown forests. Green scales will, indeed, fall like rain. But let this thing fit one more time, let this magic come just one more year.


  1. "Mama Sxia" Kim says:


    Mike, I discovered you when I was starting to create a blog in 2006 when my daughter was born. I struggled with letting go of myself, who I was, and recreating myself as a mom. My blog was “More Than a Mama”. Now, like you do being a dad, I embrace being a mom so much. The 7 years have gone too fast and I want to somehow put the brakes on the next 11 years. (Can you add some fabric in the back?)

    I do something similar with my 7 year old — the pictures of her in front of the door on the first day of school in her blue school dress. (But you have it from a much younger age.) Your writing means so much to me because we are going through the same stages at the same time. Last year, I lied to my daughter, trying not to smile a big “I’m lying through my teeth smile” (I suck at lying) when she said a girl at school said Santa is just your parents buying toys the night before. “Is that true?” she asked me. I stared down the stir-fry I was concentrating so much on and told her no way did I have time to go out shopping on Christmas Eve. So… technically… not a lie. Just a redirection? I got Santa on the radio to call her and her belief was reaffirmed. But I’m not sure how much longer it will last. I was much younger than her when I found out Santa was my mom rummaging through her closet on Christmas Eve. People: REALLY check that your kid is asleep on Christmas Eve. REALLY. I was looking up how to have “the talk” with her… this year, maybe next? When is the time to break it to your kid that their fantasy is not all it was cracked up to be? Maybe the right time was last year, but it wasn’t the right time for me?

    Gotta say, our daughters are growing up so well. They’re getting so much bigger and accomplishing so much, if not together in the sense that they have ever met (or in fact heard of) each other, together in their stages of being a girl born in 2006, working through second grade in 2013 at the same time.

    “I promise to wear it every year.” Just like mine promises she will never ever want to not live with me when I tell her she’ll need to go away to school for college. “Never, mama. I’ll never want to not see you every day.” Blogs, photographs, Facebook… ways to capture and pause these moments. Because the days just won’t stop going on and on.

    Merry Christmas! :) *sob*
    sorry this is so long!

  2. really sweet. some good memories you’re making there, sir.

  3. Well, the truth is you NEVER have to tell. They will figure it out and, if you are lucky, just stop asking and enjoy the pretense. So continue being vague – or continue lying – of course Santa exists if you believe. I know for a fact that Dana still believes! What alternative is there? I still get stockings full from Santa and I’m 71.