Last Easter while vacationing in the Desert, Cole continually hounded me about the authenticity of the Easter Bunny. Perhaps he had stolen a glance of the Easter Baskets I had secured on a previous trip and had judiciously hidden in the pool equipment closet. He questioned, he coaxed, he prodded and pried. Sensing that he "knew" and growing more exasperated by the minute from his constant interrogation, I finally relented.
"Cole," I reasoned with my logical and very astute, ten year old, "do you really think a six foot tall bunny comes hopping through our front door and hides eggs?"
I will never forget the look of horror that flashed across his eyes. For although he knew the answer, he really wasn't ready to know.
"Well, then." he stammered, "What about Santa Claus?"
But before I could respond he clapped his hand across my mouth, "No, don't tell me! I don't want to even think about it until December!"
So many times in the past six months Cole has amazed me with his insightful heart. At times I am astounded by his charm and maturity. As the Christmas season arrived, I began to wonder when he would bring up Santa Claus. I assumed we would at least have a continuation of our conversation from last spring. But he never brought it up, and frankly, I was relieved.
Then something magical happened. Louie arrived on our front porch. Louie is our own little elf, sent to us by Santa, to make sure we are behaving ourselves. Louie came with clear instructions that each night he would return to Santa with a full report of our good and bad deeds. We could leave notes for Louie, but were cautioned not to touch him.
The kids went crazy for Louie. Several times a day they would embark on an all out search to see where Louie was hiding. It seemed Louie would move from room to room even while we were home. Louie was magic. Even Cole got into it and kept exclaiming how traveling Louie was "freaking him out."
Tony and I were amused...after all, this was the same boy who no longer believed. And yet, somehow it seemed he believed in our little flying elf and he delighted in Louies' hide and seek antics. He was so sincere in his joy, so excited by Louies' presence, that I had almost convinced myself that he was still a believer.
About a week after the arrival of Louie, Cole came home from school and requested a private meeting with me. We took a walk down to the mailbox and he asked me if I was the one moving Louie. I assured him that I wasn't.
"Then is dad moving Louie?"
"No, Cole. I don't think so."
"Well Mom, someone needs to be responsible for moving Louie. I've noticed that over the last few days Louie hasn't moved very much. So I have been taking care of it."
"You have been moving Louie?" I exclaimed in surprise.
"Well, yeah. Don't you think it's important to keep the magic alive for Rachel?"
I was stunned and I was speechless. I honestly believed that Tony had been taking care of Louie, and I'm sure Tony was confident it was me. And all along it had been Cole, single handedly spreading Christmas magic around our home.
He has a certain twinkle in his eye this year, a sense of enthusiasm for the season that he happily shares wherever he goes. I expected this coming of age ritual to be more traumatic for him, maybe because of the way my heart felt in knowing that my first born no longer believed.
Just yesterday he whispered in my ear, "Mom, is Santa real?". I told him that the spirit of Santa is very real to me, that I believe in the Magic that Santa brings.
"So do I, mom. So do I."