At what age do they stop believing in Santa?
Today we discovered NORAD, told to us by a furniture-shop owner (we're among the very few people who shop for a dining table on Christmas Eve, apparently), which lets them track Santa as he makes his way around the world. It includes photos and videos of places where Santa stops, so it turns out to also be a great way to talk about other places around the world. We all want to go see Machu Picchu in Peru now!
NORAD renewed Gabriel's faith in the existence of Santa enough to not only write him a letter, but place it facing the fireplace, so Santa can read it the moment he alights on the hearth.
Dave explained to me later that really, this note is rooted more in skepticism than faith. It's a test. If Gabriel really is awarded a radio-controlled car, a Nintendo DS, $100, Snap Circuits Extreme, and p.s., walkie-talkies, then apparently Santa must really exist.
I remember well as a kid enjoying so much getting presents not only from Santa, but from his elves, reindeer, and even the mysterious "Z." We always had Christmas up at our country house -- for many years my Dad's house in upstate rural NY and now my brother and sister's weekend getaway. This was normal Christmas for us, though now I realize that it didn't include many common Christmas things, like a huge feast or extended family. But that's the way it was, and we loved it. We got a lot of gifts anyway, we made many of our tree decorations, we cut down our own tree on our own land, and loved being in the country for a usually white Christmas (remember that we were coming from uber-urban NYC). It was such a magical winter place that we believed in Santa for long past most kids did.
I'm continuing the tradition of making gifts "from" funny sources (this year, from Donner, Dasher, Comet, and once again, the mysterious Z), but we also have a new tradition of having one unwrapped gift ready, from Santa. This should have a practical angle too: it delays the 6am Christmas wakeup call, as they'll each have something new to play with (or in this case, look at) right away. That's the theory, anyway.
It was fun tonight wrapping their gifts, stuffing their stockings and getting ready for tomorrow. A whole new angle to Christmas, one of those things that the kid-life puts you into that you didn't expect, from the outside seems like a drag, but really, is total fun.