Support For Christi Thomas

This blog is to help offer support to the Thomas Family and their daughter, Christi, in her battle against cancer. Please visit Christi's website at to learn more. There, you'll find journals, photos and a lots of other information about this amazing child and her family.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

An End of Innocence / Childhood

I knew this day was coming. Quite frankly, I thought it was long overdue and I had been suggesting to Shayne that we sit Shayla down and have that talk - no, not "that talk" we had that one years ago and continue to bring it up and purchase reading materials for her. You know, the "other talk" - the one about Santa.

My BG students knew it had been bugging me. I am always in my classroom early and make small talk with them as they drift in or hang after class. "She's so bright. She CAN'T POSSIBLY believe in Santa Claus, right?" and "I feel like she's never going to trust me or come to me about anything else because she now thinks I'm a liar letting her believe in Santa." My students shared their experiences with discovering the truth over the past couple of weeks with me and basically what they told me boiled down to two things:

1.) She knows, but she doesn't want to tell you she knows because she thinks her gifts will get cut in half at least.

2.) She doesn't know. When the other kids her age were talking about Santa on the bus, she was still riding to and from school with you. Now the middle school kids talk about sex on the bus so she totally missed it and she still believes.

I even had one young woman track me down after the final to say, "Just wanted to let you know that when I was in sixth grade, I still believed. I had no idea it was my parents until they told me after my sixth grade Christmas. Let her believe until she comes to you. It's ok. She'll be ok."

I think perhaps because I learned the evil truth about Santa (smile, it's really ok!) when I was only five years old, before my kindergarten Christmas and because that was so shocking and sad, I wanted my own children to enjoy and believe for along as possible. I was so happy, when Christi died, that she still believed. It just seems to me that once you know about Santa, a part of your childhood, your innocence, is forever gone and I wanted to postpone that for as long as possible.

(Shayla and Shayne - December 1999, 10 months old)

For the past couple of days, whenever "Santa" has come up, Shayla has been saying, "Santa - you mean you!" Hmmmmm. I didn't know how much she knew and I didn't want to ruin her life (wink) by talking about it. Oh, what to do. (At one point she asked, "Are you going to have me email my list to 'Santa' again this year because if so, I'm emailing you." I didn't respond, but I soon got an email on my Blackberry containing her list. So after that little confirming stunt, we had that Santa talk.) She said she didn't really believe last year, you know about flying reindeer and stuff, but she still thought there might be a guy bringing presents. This year she knows it's all your parents. And she did consider not confessing because she thought we might not have a really good Christmas or get her any presents if she told. Oh, my students were right on the money about that one (and I'm still really thinking hard about that middle school bus conversation - ohhhh my!)

The girls with Shayne, 2000: Shayla, 1 1/2, Christi 3 1/2 yrs old

Well, I knew this talk was coming and I was ready. I knew she'd have an absolute blast learning that Shayne, her awesome daddy, use to be the Santa who would come to our home before Christmas. When Christi died that made me sad, knowing I'd never be able to show her the picture of her sitting on Santa's lap and crying her eyes out and telling her it was her loving daddy - who was just as shocked that she reacted that way. So, praise be to God, I got to share those awesome, wonderful memories with Shayla. We stayed up way too late talking about it all and sharing pictures with her last night. When she asked how the tradition started, I shared that my father used to dress up for us and then for the grandchildren until he died. Then Shayne took over. Oh, what a hoot! Now "Little Miss Christmas" wants Shayne to start dressing up and going to people's homes again like he used to do because SHE wants to play the role of Santa's Elf and go in and help! God love her!

Shayla laughed and laughed at this last night saying, "If she only knew it was her own Dad, that is soooooo funny!" I know, Christi would have tried to pull off his beard and kiss his face all over. Oh, she loved her amazing daddy!

THE PICTURE at the very top of this entry is the last time Shayne played Santa for the girls, December 2001: Shayla 2, Christi 4 She was diagnosed before the next Christmas and Shayne knew he'd look at Christi, with her bald little head, and absolutely break down and sob. He knew he could never do it again - and he didn't.


At 15/12/10 12:19 PM, Blogger Emmers said...

I found out when I was 5 (almost 6). The year before I had questioned the whole thing because we had moved into our new house 2 days before Christmas! (What on earth my parents were thinking, I will never know)... but the next year I overheard my mom talking on the phone to a friend about what SHE had given me for Christmas (not what SANTA gave me.... the plot thickens). The next year I ruined it for my little brother (he was only 3! I am a mean big sister! but he was TERRIFIED of santa - and people in costumes in general, so maybe I did him a favor!)

Is Shayla going to be one of those VERY lucky girls who asks for a pony for Christmas and gets one!! Living my childhood dream!! <3 !!

At 15/12/10 7:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quite frankly Angela, I'm worried about my 13-year old because she still seems to still believe in Santa Claus! I can't help thinking that Christie would be the same age as her now.

Seriously, I think she really knows, but is keeping quiet because I have always said, when you stop believing in Santa, he stops coming, and you only get presents from mom and dad. Then the other night we were watching a Christmas movie, and she made the comment to herself out loud and said "see, he really does exist and people are trying to tell me he doesn't!" As long as she still wants to believe I will let her, I feel like her childhood is going too fast as it is.

Oh, and by the way, I learned to Skpe too! My 21-year-old neice is in Bulgaria studying for an internship, and we pulled her up and talked with her on the computer with Skype! It was too cool! Technology has come a LONG way! LOL! Thankfully her internship ends December 20 and she will be coming home for Christmas.

Wendy Landers
Concord, GA

At 15/12/10 8:44 PM, Anonymous Simone said...

My parents said that when my brother and I stopped believing it was like the end of our childhoods. I get what you're feeling. At least she didn't find out how I did - a boy in my fourth grade class told everyone he helped his parents lay out presents on Christmas Eve!
By the way, I'm also in college and really admire what I read about your relationships with your students. I wish my professors at Kent were like that!

At 15/12/10 9:35 PM, Anonymous Jennifer Barkin said...

Hi Angela,

I have been following your blog for years and I still check in weekly although I do not comment.
Your story of Shayne never playing Santa again made me tear up. I hope that you have a Merry Christmas and I want you to know that Christie is always remembered.

At 15/12/10 11:21 PM, Anonymous Molly said...

How smart - and sensitive - of Shayla to drop hints that she knew, without outright telling you - - so it was up to you whether to start an outright conversation or not. I think she realizes that it might be hard for her mom not to have a Santa-believer anymore. That girl's emotional IQ is through the roof!

Like you, I figured it out in kindergarten (no one told me, I just realized it didn't make sense), but kept up the act through my whole childhood b/c I thought there would be more presents that way. The result? My siblings all thought I believed in Santa til I was 10 or 11, and still make fun of me for it to this day (I'm 24)! Oh, how I wish I had just told my parents that I knew!

At 16/12/10 8:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Angela. It's been a while since I commented here but I've beenr eading. This entry rings close to home. My daughter is in grade 6 as well and she's right on the verge too. This year is her test year. She wrote a letter to Santa and stuck it in an envelope thinking I hadn't seen it (she left the room while writing it and I stole a glance). She said if she gets what she asked for, she'll know he's real, if not she'll know he's fake. If it wasn't for her 6 year old brother, I would have told her this year. I think I'll bring up the topic around February with her and let her know as long as she "believes" for her brother's sake, Santa will bring her a gift.

SO hard these transitions. lol

Tracey (from Canada)

At 16/12/10 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I meant to tell you this in my (already long) response earlier:

The end of Santa is not the end of innocence - don't worry. For something so seemingly fragile, innocence is really resilient. Even through the unthinkable and tragic, both of your girls kept it. Innocence isn't about being unaware of unfairness or hardships or reality; it is faith in the goodness of people and the world despite all that. It is the reason that Jesus said, "blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God".

At 17/12/10 12:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I relate to your posts so often, but it is amazing that tonight I couldn't sleep because my sixth grade daughter and I had this same talk and I was a little sad about it and so I got on my computer and checked your blog and just giggled. Shayla reminds me of my daughter so much and it really is amazing that they seem to do many things at the same time. This "talk" being one of them. I felt just like you that it is the end of their innocence/childhood in some ways. :( I hope you guys have a very Merry Christmas!

At 17/12/10 3:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God bless you and your dear family. The strength you and your husband have shown, is forever inspiring. Shayla is blessed to have you in her life, and sweet Christie is dancing in heaven.

Christmas blessings from Canada - Teresa

At 20/12/10 5:41 AM, Blogger Sammie Ryan said...

Aww Angela what a sweet story. Lovely little Shayla sweet as ever. Always thinking of others ...just like Christi.

Love Sam xxx (Ireland)

At 21/12/10 9:09 AM, Blogger Kate said...

I heard about Christi back right before she turned 9, through chemo angels.

I still think of her today. <3

At 21/12/10 6:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Thomas Family! I know the holidays must be tough without your loved one and for that you will be in my thoughts, not only around Christmas but for the rest of the year as well. I was reading through some archives, and was wondering what happened to the beginning of September 2006? I know that was the worst time of your life but it just stops mid-September. Odd. Anyway take care of are so blessed to have Shayla around to keep you going! Hang in there!!

At 28/12/10 10:29 PM, Blogger YankeeFan said...

Merry Christmas, Thomas Family!
I read with great interest your Blog entry about the truth about Santa. I have a 9 year old niece who still believes.I am like her second Mom. She and her Mommy have always spent the night here Christmas Eve because we have a fireplace and they don't. Santa has always come to Auntie Susi and Uncle Ricardo's for Isabella. I thought sure this year the kids at school would "spoil" it for her, but she said some kids says there is no Santa but she believes. Yes I do the different wrapping paper etc. Santa has always brought only toys and My husband and I the clothes. This year I started two new traditions- a new pair of pajamas on Christmas eve and allowing her to open two of the non Santa gifts. She'll turn 10 in June-next year 5th grade will be the last year of elementary school. I hope she believes just one more year. Then I'll tell her before she goes to middle school ( her mom & my husband are from Colombia and Santa is not a big deal there, so since I began the big Santa tradition, her mother is leaving it to me to "end" it.) A lot of the magic goes out of it when they don't believe-i know that from experience-my daughter was told by friends in the 3rd grade. However I have a new little believer-my daughter made me a grandmother in September. He is still very little this year, but next year he'll get his first pair of Christmas Eve jammies from his MiMi. I wish he was closer-he lives in Florida!


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