For months now, my son Ty has been on a mission to disprove the Easter bunny, Santa Claus, and all things magical.
A few weeks ago, when he lost a tooth, I snuck into his room and put some money under his pillow, successfully taking the tooth without waking him up. When I got back to my room (this was about five in the morning) I just put it in a bag under a sweatshirt, thinking I was safe to leave it there for the night.
It wasn’t even seven a.m. when I opened my eyes to the sounds of rummaging. As I sat up and rubbed my eyes, there was Ty, holding up the bag, with a look of supreme triumph on his face. Ha! his eyes said. Caught you.
“What are you doing, honey?” I said, opting for the “innocent-me” route.
“What is my tooth doing in your room, in this bag?” he said, his sweet voice dripping with accusation.
I shook my head in wonder. “I have no idea,” I said, as if I could not fathom such a turn of events. “Is there any money under your pillow?”
So I managed to dodge a bullet on that one. But one random day, weeks later, I came home and he asked me for a handwriting sample. “Write your messiest,” he said, so I did – only to see him pull out an old note from the tooth fairy, to compare with mine. It was another close call, but it didn’t give him the proof he needed. So once again, I was off the hook.
But then this past weekend, Ty’s snooping skills finally paid off. (I’m thinking about getting a safe…but he’d probably crack the code.)
It was Easter morning, after they’d found their eggs and baskets and eaten too much chocolate, when Ty found the receipt from Target. He held it up like a trophy, like he’d just solved a cold case. “Mom!” he cried, waving it in my face. His big blue eyes were filled with knowing. “Mom, what’s this?”
It was pretty damning evidence. Unfortunately, the Easter bunny and I had done our shopping all in one trip – so there it was, the Legos, the candy, the games, the toothpaste, the razors, all on one receipt.
Unfortunately, his friends Max and Riley were there, too, also looking at me accusingly, waiting for an answer. Somehow, I got the receipt from him without fully coming clean.
The rest of the morning, he was acting uncharacteristically bratty. Until he broke down, said he didn’t believe in the Easter Bunny, and that I’d been lying to him.
So Stephen took him aside, and they had The Talk. Our friend Lisa had given us some advice about what to tell him: it’s true, there is no Easter bunny. But now that he knows the secret, he’s entered into a new club – and now it’s his responsibility to keep it a secret for others. To keep the magic going.
After they talked, Ty wandered back over to me. “Hi Mom,” he said, looking downcast.
“Hey, buddy,” I said. “How are you doing?” He shrugged. “Are you feeling a little sad?” He nodded. There wasn’t any denial, no glimmer of hope – it was done.
And right then – I know, it’s a little cheesy, a little Hallmark-y – I started crying.
I felt like I was watching the kid in Ty disappear. I was watching him step into this new adult role, where he had to let go of all the fun and the wonder and childlike joy.
It’s gone, I thought. He hasn’t even lost all his teeth. Will we still even hide them? What about Christmas, will he even be excited when he wakes up?
That’s what was so painful for me – the feeling that the magic of childhood was over for him.
Does it have to be that way?
I started thinking. Maybe not. Maybe the magic doesn’t have to be over, I thought. Maybe we just need to find new ways to keep it alive. And thanks to what Stephen told Ty about the new “club” he’s in, now Ty can get in on doing that, too. Not just for other kids, or younger kids, but for us.
We decided that could be our new tradition: we all hide Easter baskets for each other.
Since then, I’ve been thinking about how that can apply to things outside of my kids. What about daily life, where for so many of us, the magic is totally gone?
Every day, people let you down, things don’t work out, ideas that once held all the magic in the world suddenly crumble to ash. It’s like we as adults are constantly being told that some new Santa Claus isn’t real.
But that’s not how it has to be. What if there was a new club we were all in? Where we took it as our responsibility to keep magic alive for each other?
I’m not suggesting we go around hiding Easter baskets in the office or the subway. (Though I don’t hate that idea…) I’m talking about applying this concept to daily life, to our everyday relationships. Helping to rekindle joy where it’s been lost.
Have you watched someone you know lose the magic?
I see this around birthdays for adults. It’s so easy to think, “Shoot, I missed another of so-and-so’s birthdays. Oh well, I’m sure they’re busy. I’m busy. I’ll do something next year.”
But our days count. Moments count. Once you start looking for ways to make other people’s day, that energy will flow right back at you.
Or maybe it’s for yourself. What’s an area in your life where you’ve lost your excitement?
Has your job turned into a daily torture session? Have you lost touch with your spouse or a close friend? What about in your personal life – what’s something you once loved to do, something that gave you joy, but you haven’t done in a while?
How can you create just a little spark of magic, either in your life or someone else’s?
Go out and shine.