When our daughter Payton was six, she had a love for ponies. We live in the burbs, so riding ponies regularly wasn’t really a thing. But, thanks to parents’ favorite toymakers who make a toy for every child’s desire, there was a life-size mini pony named “Butterscotch” who made his way on to Payton’s Christmas wish list in 2007. Butterscotch’s arrival gave us a magical tale worth retelling. Most of all, it instilled the importance of believing in magic, no matter what age.
Butterscotch entered our home about three weeks before Christmas in a box the size of a small car. My usual hiding places were out of the question. We initially shoved it into our guest bathroom, but we knew that wasn’t the safest hiding place. Our inquisitive, curious daughter had me worried, for a reason. A few days later, Payton and her little friend were scampering throughout the house, and after things grew eerily quiet I discovered them trying to pry open the guest bathroom door, with Butterscotch silently resting in his temporary cardboard home on the other side.
I asked them what they were up to and she said something about “seeing a big box” and thinking she spotted a picture of Butterscotch on the side of it. I stumbled through a few sentences about it being “dad’s box, and it was nothing for you to worry about.” Then, I diverted the topic to snacks, movies and other six-year-old topics that help refocus attention. It worked, and off they went, with me knowing I needed to have a stern discussion with Santa, stat.
That night, Tom hauled the giant horse-filled carton to the garage. And when Payton mentioned the incident a few days later I was able to say something about storage and invited her to look in the bathroom, which was now Butterscotch-free.
Christmas Eve arrives and once Payton is in full slumber we wrestle the Butterscotch box into the house, fill him with enough batteries to light a full city block and position him directly in front of the tree with his carrots and brush. As we’re trotting him into place he starts to whinny, followed by chomping, and it seems like several minutes pass before we get him shut down. While the sounds echoed straight up the stairs, Payton appeared undisturbed in her magical slumber.
Morning came quickly as Miss P. was soon tip toeing in our room and bursting with excitement to head downstairs and see what Santa had delivered. Santa did not disappoint, as Butterscotch was front and center. The joy in her face and the squeals from her mouth made all the Butterscotch stress worth it.
Later in the day, I was not surprised when our wise six-year old brought up the topic of the box in the bathroom. It was time to stop with the lies. I confessed that she had in fact seen the Butterscotch box, and that Santa has so many gifts to deliver in one night that he sometimes must coordinate with parents and deliver big gifts early. Some gifts are simply too large for his overstuffed sleigh and don’t fit down chimneys.
She bought the story. After all, believing in Santa is all about the magic. So, when anyone questions whether the big, jolly guy in red is real, I encourage them to believe in the magic. Butterscotch did. My six-year-old, now 16-year-old does. And, I unquestionably do. How about you?