“No, I would not want to live in a world without dragons, as I would not want to live in a world without magic, for that is a world without mystery, and that is a world without faith.”
I was cleaning the kitchen while my daughter played with her friend in the living room, and I overheard the question that every mother dreads hearing.
My 7-year-old asked her friend, “do you believe in Santa?”
“No,” said her friend, “I’m a realist.”
I grew up in a family of Santa-believers. We weren’t realists in the slightest. To this very day, I listen for jingling bells outside my window on Christmas Eve.
We aren’t raising our kids as realists, either. I basically took my enchanted childhood as a challenge to create an even more magical childhood for our kids. Not only do we eagerly anticipate visits from Santa and the Tooth Fairy (who delivers glitter origami animal dollar bills nonetheless), but we do things like go on family adventures into the forest to find fairy rings and march around them in order to open up portals between fairy worlds and our world. We read historical guidebooks about unicorns so we can track them and find one (we do live in Alaska, after all, which is right next to Canada, which – as everyone knows – is a unicorn’s native land). We have tea parties with our stuffed animals and we make wishes on shooting stars.
I’ve spent the past ten years dismantling most of everything I thought I knew about God and the Bible and the Church.
For so many years, I was afraid of asking questions. I was afraid that my doubts would lead to a disbelief in God and an empty feeling of alone.
It turns out, though, that believing in unicorns and fairies and elves teaches our souls how to have faith – more specifically, it prepares our souls to embrace mystery.
I grew up believing that I had all the answers, and that gave me a false sense of security. Welcoming the mystery has shown me that real security comes from knowing we don’t have all the answers, and being okay with that.
I may not have all of the answers, but by opening my clenched fists, I’ve learned that God is more loving (and less white), humanity is more entangled and deeply connected, and nature is essentially more indispensable than I ever knew before.
Beyond giving my kids an enchanted, magical childhood, I want to teach my kids how to create their own magic. We hosted my in-laws for Christmas this year. We knew that they wouldn’t bring stockings for Santa to fill, so we devised up our own little plan to give them a magical Christmas surprise. My kids used their own hard-earned money to buy two stockings and fill them with the most winsome items they could find during an adorably memorable trip to Goodwill.
On Christmas morning, when we all ran to open our stockings that Santa filled, lo-and-behold, there were two stockings sitting right there for Grammy and Pappy, too! Imagine the joy everyone experienced in that magical moment.
I think the way that creating Christmas magic brought my children joy is the way that God intended us to join in the magic that began in Eden. The magic of creating. The magic of exploring and taking care of the earth. The magic of relationship and companionship. The magic of being human.