At 2:37 in the morning on Christmas Day, the youngest busted into my bedroom and scared me awake.
“What are you doing?”
“I woke up!”
“What time is it?”
“But what are you doing?”
“I need to use the bathroom and you told us we have to use your bathroom instead of the hallway bathroom so we don’t look in the living room!”
“Oh. Okay. Go on.”
I put my head back down on my pillow. I had only been asleep for about an hour. I stayed up late to pull off the normal Christmas magic, wanting to make sure not-so-little boys were really asleep before taking to the task at hand. I rolled into bed sometime after one o’clock and was still awake after 1:30.
Let’s face it: I get excited on Christmas Eve, too. I get excited for their excitement. It’s one of my greatest joys.
I waited in the dark and drifted slightly before LittleBrother came back to my side of the bed.
“Can I trust you to go back to your room?”
“Yes. I love you.”
He bent down and kissed my forehead.
And then that child whispered, “Santa opened the door to the basement,” wonder and awe thick on his voice.
My eyes snapped open. His eyes shone in the dark.
“Well, don’t you peek. Now go get your sleep so we can wake up and have Christmas!”
I heard his feet run down the hall, followed by the shutting of his door. In the dark, my heart grew eighty sizes.
He was all in on Santa all season long. All. In. He spoke of him with reverent wonder, wide eyes, and a joy I wish I could bottle for darker days yet to come. Honestly, the pure belief that kid has in Santa helped smooth the edges of a really rough season.
As adults, we don’t believe in much the way our youngest son believes in Santa—with all of his being. We worry. We doubt. We try to reason it all away or into being. We talk ourselves in circles. And yes, as we age we require those critical thinking skills that allow us to make informed decisions about the world around us.
But there’s something to be said for magic.
Our Christmas Day was busy and beautiful. We spent the day with family and ate entirely too much food. Our hearts were heavy for various reasons, but we did the best we could to enjoy the day.
We cleaned up some messes after we got home and set up some Christmas presents. After LittleBrother opened one box, he noticed it had some dings. This particular present was delivered by Santa.
“I bet it got beat up on the ride here,” he told his daddy.
His belief was our joy this year. It was a hard year, for so many reasons. I am living through and with loss. My husband and I are working hard to care for his grandparents. The world is literally and figuratively on fire.
But one little boy—our little boy—believes with all of his heart. His joy became our joy; his heart carried our hearts.