many years ago, when katie was just a little girl, christmas was always a time of not just magic and wonder and all the happy holiday things, it was also a time of treading on eggshells around my ex, who had such impossible (and conflicting) expectations of everything and everyone, that jesus christ, the virgin mary AND the angels all working together would've found it nearly impossible to satisfy. i most assuredly trust and believe that THEY could all do it, but not within the limitations of the human instrument who'd signed up for the task. but i digress.
one year, i remember coming home from church, with ray close to exploding in one of his Moods. for some reason i sent katie to the basement to get paper towels, and was so focused on pacifying ray, i forgot the gifts were out, in full view. and katie still believed in santa claus - even though she was plenty old enough to realize how important it was to keep daddy Happy.
and so katie was sent for the towels, and i forgot about all the presents, and she came back with the towels and never said a word. many years later i found out why.
i think it was meg, who was maybe three or four, who was asking questions about santa. all of a sudden, katie, who i didn't think still believed in santa, said, "oh, i know he's real."
i remember it took me completely aback. "what?" i said, at this unexpected reinforcement from an unlooked for ally.
"i saw an elf," said katie. "it was that christmas, you sent me to the basement to the get the towels. i saw all my presents, and then i looked across the basement, and hiding in the workbench, i saw in Elf. he looked back at me and he watched me while i walked across the basement to get the towels. so ever since then, i know it's Real."
did katie see the Elf? i believe she did. i believe that Something stepped in that night, Something that knew how important it was to keep a child's faith intact, Something greater and better than the something that was happening upstairs. because katie believed in "santa claus" that belief was a Channel for divine grace to assume the shape It needed take to keep the connection alive. i like to think that Belief is still there, matured perhaps, into something less definable than a jolly old man in a bright red suit, but There, as part of whatever it is that gives her, as kathy so graciously noted, strength and clarity.
and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.