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Everyone Loves Christmas Magic

The three-year age difference between my children is never more apparent than at the holidays.
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Smart Mama

The three-year age difference between my children is never more apparent than at the holidays.

In many ways, six Christmases have made Emma an expert. She knows what to expect, that the space under the tree will be filled with presents when she wakes up that magical morning. That the days before will be filled with cookies, parties and singing. I can almost see lights shining in her eyes when she talks about what’s on her list. Snowmen with Santa hats decorate her drawings.

But with just three Christmases under his belt, Benny is still a novice. “When it snows, Santa will be here!” he says hopefully. This is the same child who cannot understand that trick-or-treating isn’t an option any night of the year (“It’s dark out! Let’s go get candy!”).

When we talk about putting up the tree, he looks utterly confused. A tree in the living room? When I don’t even let him bring the occasional stick inside? Truly, I can’t imagine how he processes overheard snippets about stuffing stockings, flying reindeer and exchanging names.

Emma tries to help out. “What are you going to tell Santa you want for Christmas, Benny?” she asked him recently.

Benny was quiet for a few seconds. “A rock,” he finally answered.

Emma looked at him with her mouth agape. “You can ask for anything, Benny. Anything for Christmas.”

“I want a very small rock,” he qualified.

“No, Benny. I’m going to ask for a D.S., and a stuffed dog, and clothes, and lots of stuff. You can ask for toys. Don’t you want a choo-choo train?”

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“I have a choo-choo train at my home,” Benny said. “I want a rock.”

“No, Benny, you can’t ask for a rock.”


“I’m sure Santa can get a rock for you, Benny,” I threw in as Emma shook her head at her little brother.

But Benny isn’t the only mystery to Emma. “If Santa’s reindeer actually flew in the sky on Christmas Eve, why hasn’t anyone seen it?” she asked me. “If he’s got so much magic, why doesn’t he just walk super fast?”

During moments like this, I feel like the sands of wonder are slipping through the hourglass of Emma’s life. Are the days of leaving cookies for Rudolph and being extra nice in December — just in case you-know-who is watching — about to end? Will she soon roll her eyes when the tag on her presents is signed “From Mr. S”?

Maybe I don’t need to worry.

A friend told me that her teenage daughter still holds up her just-unwrapped gifts on Christmas morning and squeals, “Look what I got, Mom!” as though the new shirt really did show up without her mother’s involvement.

Other moms told me they’re sure their children know the truth, but both parties are afraid to say it. Maybe everyone wants the magic to continue.

“Is Santa my friend?” Benny asks.

“Absolutely,” I answer.

Beth Vrabel lives in West Manchester Township with her daughter, Emma, 6, and son, Benny, 3. You can read more Smart Mama columns here.


Magic? Or Answered Prayers?

Emma sat down with me on the couch. “Mom, I have to tell you something. Something real. Something important.” “OK,” I answered, knowing this something could be anything from the puppy chewed up another of Benny’s diapers to So-and-so at school has stinky breath.

Some Questions Can’t Be Neutered

Poor puppy Jasper is getting a little snip-snip that will hopefully make displaying inappropriate affection for Emma’s stuffed pony but a distant memory of dogs gone wild. And because I (foolishly) taught my children to be inquisitive beings, there are a lot of questions surrounding this event.

Puppy Love

Emma had puppy fever. All she talked about was puppies. How cute they are, how responsible (“consponsible,” as she put it) having one would make her, how if she could just have a puppy she would never, never, never want anything else ever, ever, ever.

Inspired By a Toddler’s Boldness

Benny walked up to a bunch of big kids — at least, big kids by his 2-year-old standards — at the park. No hesitation, no shyness. “Whatcha doin’?”

Coping With Cabin Fever

Emma just walked by me. My 6-year-old girl is decked out in my wedding veil and a summer sundress despite the 17-degree weather.

Everyone Was New Once

Emma tugged at her piggy tails. “They’re too babyish,” she muttered. I knew she was feeling too babyish, as well.

The Mystery of a Child’s Mind

Though Benny has a great vocabulary and has no difficulty expressing his needs and wants, I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever fully understand what he’s thinking.

Hooked on Being ‘Green’

If environmental consciousness had a brute squad, Emma would be its commander-in-chief. The squad leader’s favorite tactic: Strategically aimed guilt.