Our family LOVES Elf. It’s my favorite of the new Christmas movies, because it’s everything a Christmas movie should be….silly, Christmasy, a bit of a love story, and makes you tear up at the end, in spite of yourself.
I’ve been involved in several discussions, one very recently, in which people asked why we would want to LIE to our children about Santa. I am serious.
But here’s the thing. I have never, ever lied to my children about Santa. I have told them that there are stories that say that Santa comes down the chimney, but that I have no idea how that would happen. I have told them that Santa is a saint from a long time ago that loved Jesus and wanted to make sure that all children had a present for Christmas (mostly true, but yipes, read at your own risk!). When they ask questions, we answer them. I have never, EVER threatened them with Santa or told them if they’re good, they get presents, if not…..whatever.
All that being said, this is why Santa comes to our house.
Christmas is magic. Lights in the darkness, trees, family, traditional meals, forgiveness and togetherness that doesn’t always happen. In most cultures that celebrate Christmas, there is a person who mysteriously leaves gifts behind for the children (in Italy, Befana; in Germany, Christkind or St. Niklaus; in Scandinavia, an elf or one of TWELVE Santas; the list goes on). I think this is because we want children to know the magic of Christmas. We want them to experience something that is fun and surprising and magical while they’re still open minded enough to believe in things like fairies and elves and angels and that there are forces for good in this world.
Recently my daughter said, perhaps prompted by breakfast with Santa at our church tomorrow morning, “Mom? I think that there are a bunch of Santas, but they all have the spirit of Santa inside them.” I wanted to cry, not for her lack of belief, but for her absolute “getting-it-ness,” her nine year old faith turning into a different kind of belief, with none of the magic gone.
That’s why I love Elf. If you can watch it and not tear up at the end when the hardened businessman starts singing Christmas carols, you may not have a pulse. It’s about the magic, and the believing, which I pray that we’ll ALL have even a moment of this Christmas.