Let the magic last

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FAMILY -

SHEL­DON’S aunt, Deirdre Th­e­seira and her fam­ily, are happy to keep Santa well and alive.

The youngest two in her fam­ily, Miguel and Manuel Gomes, aged 12 and eight, are strong Santa sup­port­ers. Each Christ­mas Eve, the brothers would leave a glass of milk and a plate of cook­ies for Santa. The rein­deer, too, will get a car­rot.

Come Christ­mas morn­ing, there will only be crumbs and an empty glass left be­hind. And at the foot of the boys’ beds would be Santa’s gifts for them, taken off a wish list mailed to the North Pole.

“We started this tra­di­tion from the time my kids were born. We never re­ally ex­plained it. On Christ­mas Eve, we would just say that you have to go to sleep oth­er­wise Santa won’t come. If you’ve been good, Santa will come and bring you a present at night,” ex­plains Th­e­seira, 47.

“There were a few times when we saw cos­tumed San­tas’ at dif­fer­ent malls and my kids had asked why there were so many of them. My an­swer was: Well, Santa is re­ally busy and those are his helpers, just like the elves.”

She tells her chil­dren, “The day you stop be­liev­ing in Santa, is the day the magic stops. Santa won’t be com­ing by any­more af­ter that.”

But no mat­ter how hard par­ents try, chil­dren even­tu­ally grow up and dis­cover that Santa doesn’t slide down the chim­ney.

Th­e­seira’s el­dest, Ta­tianna, 15, was about 11 when she came to re­alise that Santa’s gifts were prob­a­bly from her mother.

“I re­mem­ber I used to like read­ing this se­ries of books. One day, my mum asked me which books I had and which ones I didn’t. And on Christ­mas morn­ing, I re­ceived the ones I didn’t have, sup­pos­edly from Santa. That’s when the re­al­i­sa­tion hit,” Ta­tianna re­calls.

“I was a bit dis­ap­pointed. But af­ter a while, the thought of a sleigh fly­ing couldn’t be real and I used to al­ways won­der how Santa came into the house be­cause we didn’t have a chim­ney. So I just ac­cepted that.”

Ta­tianna still re­ceives presents for Christ­mas, just not from “Santa” any­more.

“Com­pared to when I was younger, the ex­cite­ment I’d feel about Christ­mas is very dif­fer­ent. I used to have a tough time go­ing to sleep on Christ­mas Eve. I used to try peek­ing to see if I could catch Santa. When I woke up I would quickly go to the end of my bed to see what Santa has given me. I would take ev­ery­thing and lay it out on my bed and then go run­ning to my mummy and daddy say­ing: ‘Look what Santa brought me!’ I guess that’s one of the childhood ex­pe­ri­ences I miss most. I think I would’ve liked it if I could still be­lieve in Santa.”

Ta­tianna has since kept the “se­cret” to her­self. “I still feel that sense of magic when it comes to Santa. When­ever my brothers talk about Santa, there’s like this spe­cial light in their eyes, and I didn’t want to spoil it for them.”

Th­e­seira says: “My par­ents did Santa for us as chil­dren. It’s some­thing I’ve just passed down to my own chil­dren. I think it’s a nice as­pect of Christ­mas, that you’re get­ting a sur­prise from Santa. If you’ve been bad, you ob­vi­ously don’t get what you ask for. So it also serves as a form of mo­ti­va­tion to get them to be good the whole year, or make prom­ises of want­ing to be good.

“I don’t feel like I’m de­ceiv­ing my kids. I think when they do even­tu­ally un­cover the truth, they aren’t go­ing to be an­gry at me, be­cause that’s the magic of Christ­mas. There are so many hor­ri­ble things hap­pen­ing in the world th­ese days, I think par­ents will go to any ex­tent just to hold on to a tiny bit of magic, even if it’s just for Christ­mas.”

Favourite day: The Gomes chil­dren love christ­mas cel­e­bra­tions. They would leave a glass of milk and a plate of cook­ies for Santa each christ­mas eve.

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