Answering The Question

Answering your child's questions about magic | Clean.

"Are you the one who fills our Easter baskets?"

The question surprised me, though I had been waiting for it for years.

Wondering when they would ask.

Are you Santa?

The Easter Bunny? And all of the rest?


The truth is, I was dreading that question.

The Question.


You see, I did not come easily to the idea of a magical childhood.

Precisely because I knew I would someday have to answer The Question.

When Sage was a baby magic felt like a lie. And I wouldn't lie to my kids.

No Santa. No Bunny. No magic.

I wanted to be honest with my children. Always. Completely. No exceptions.


But then a friend convinced me that magic served a very important role in childhood.

That the very nature of childhood is magical, and that magic is where young children should dwell.

Magic sets the young imagination ablaze with possibility.

Magic creates comfort in an overwhelming world.

Magic makes adult concepts digestible to a young developing mind.

Magic makes the unseen possible.


And the more I sat with this idea during Sage's early days, the more I began to agree.

Magic stopped feeling like a lie, and more like, well, magic.

Answering your child's questions about magic | Clean.

The decision was cautiously made.

We'd give it a try.

We would invite magic.

For better or for worse.


My reservations quickly faded as I saw awe in my child's eyes when something magical happened. 

Even fireflies became magical to him.

"Look mama! There are stars and fairies all over in the forest!"

Within a moment I knew that we had found a good fit for our family.

And in our home anyway, childhood became a magical experience.

  Answering your child's questions about magic | Clean.

There was magic everywhere!

Standard issue magic folk and playful new creations.

Santa. The Tooth Fairy. Saint Nick. The Easter Bunny.

Also the Rhyme Elves, leaving a poem during the night beside a child's bed.

The Pumpkin Fairy, transforming Halloween candy into a lovely new toy.

The Solstice Elves, delivering a gift for the children to share each Solstice Eve.

And okay, I'll even admit to the obscure Van (as in: mini van) Fairies, who would hide a thrift store book in your car seat on a long and trying road trip.

And so many others.


We were rich with fairy folk.

Magic unfolded around us.

And years passed.

And I waited.

For The Question.


Finally it came.


Are you the one who fills our Easter baskets?


It was said with curiousity but not anxiety. Simply. Plainly.

I took my child by the hand and we found a quiet place to sit and talk.

And with my arms wrapped around this growing spirit, this is what I said.

Answering your child's questions about magic | Clean.

Since you were very small your life has been full of magic.

On holidays and everyday.


Elves, gnomes, and fairies.



Inviting that magic into your life was a decision your papa and I made when you were very small.

Because we believed that a childhood full of magic could help you believe in things you could not see.

And as you get older believing in things you can not see can help you go anywhere you dream to go.


And yes, filling your Easter basket was a part of that.

Along with many other things.

We tried to make magic into something you could see and touch and believe in from the very start.


Because I believe that magic is real.

But it changes as you get older.

And instead of being the winged fairy folk or Easter bunny sort of magic it is a magic that is harder to see and touch than that.

    "Yeah," my child said. "Like the magic of the universe."

Yes. Like that.


I continued…

Your papa and I decided that we wanted you to have a magical childhood.

We thought it would help you believe in yourself when things seemed impossible.

We believed it would help you reach for things that others thought were unreachable.


And so just like Nanny and Bumpy did for me and their parents did for them, your papa and I have helped bring magic to life for you.


My child paused only for a moment, then smiled and said,

    "It's still magic. It's mama magic."

Answering your child's questions about magic | Clean.

There was no sadness. No deceit. No disappointment.

Only joy, awe, and a new twist on what it meant to hold magic in our hands.

It all made perfect sense.

To both of us.

And it was time.


And then I passed the torch.

Because once you know this truth, you also become a magic keeper.

Your work is to help keep magic alive for other children who still believe.


And this – this! – was the best part of all.

To pick up the torch and become a part of the magic?

My child could hardly wait to get started.


Yes. It is still magic after all.

It's mama magic.

It's papa magic.

And now it is kid magic, too.


And kid magic I suspect is the most powerful magic of all.

They grew up believing. 

Who better to keep it alive?


My heart is full.


39 thoughts on “Answering The Question

  1. Heidi G says:

    I, too, had to answer the question this year. Now he’s excited to share the magic with his little sister.

  2. Emily says:

    I am sooo happy to read this. I am just waiting for the question too, as my oldest is 9, and yes, also dreading the question.I love the way you answered it, and I hope I can be so eloquent!

  3. Michelle says:

    Athena and I had this very conversation last week. She is 10! And when I told her that indeed I was all those things she asked if all parents trick their children. I responded by saying “well you could call it tricking but I prefer to say that i wanted you to have a magical childhood.” “Hmmm,” she said. “I am going to do that very same thing to my children!” So, you see, it isn’t harmful or lying…its magic!

  4. sarah says:

    This is perfection. I never regretted inviting magic into my dd’s childhood. She grew out of it in her own quiet manner but it has clearly strengthened her spirit in so many ways for the “real” world. Magic opens the mind to myriad possibilities and don’t we want that open-mindedness in adults? I so much love what you have written here.

  5. Julie says:

    Beautifully written! My children are very small, so this question feels far away, but I think this is really the best possible way to answer it. u

  6. Margaret B. says:

    Oh, yes. We recently had this discussion/experience in our house, too, and now my 10 year is just as big a believer in mama magic. He recently left a tooth for the “tooth fairy” and was as happy as ever with the handful of coins and two toy mice which were left as gifts. Big excitement and happiness to give one of the mice to his little brother and explain the story of the tooth fairy. Magic, indeed.

    As always, thank you and xo

  7. Nahuatl Vargas says:

    It makes me confused, it’s beautiful, and I understand that when something just makes sense to your family, that’s the way it is. But I’m the other parent, who has never found a way to not to feel it like I’m not saying lies, I grew up without and so my kid, I feel I little worry about if he missed something really important, but I just can’t do it. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Rachel Wolf says:

    There are many things one family grows up with but another does not. Differences in experiences, beliefs, practices. I had the same feeling you expressed when seeing a friend’s child compete in a sport she was passionate about. Did I deny my kids this wonderful experience? No. I just gave them different experiences. Your son has a life filled with different blessings than mine. Not less. But different. x

  9. Beth says:

    Having been lied to a lot as a child, I was wary of lying to my children. I also had had a very hurtful time with finding out there was no Santa. When we had children we admitted right off that there was no Santa, but that there was magic in being “Santa” (wink, wink) for one another. We all got stockings and baskets but they were packed parent and child for the other parent. There was much talk about “Santa” and how “Maybe Santa will bring it to you, Daddy.” when a desire was expressed. The joy then became watching for what one another loved, on sneak shopping, on seeing the light in the eyes of the parent she had shopped for and hearing, “I wonder how Santa knew I wanted that?” on Christmas morning. (Warning: May not work with kids that don’t understand not to tell their friend that Santa is not real.)

  10. Xan says:

    Rachel, thank you yet again! Your answer to that difficult question is my version of perfect:) I hope to still be many years away from having to talk with the 1st of my little ones about these magic gifts, but I’m printing out your post and into my journal it goes for inspiration and a future reminder. Blessings and gratitude xox

  11. susan says:

    Seriously Wonderful. I, too, grapple with the idea of not being perfectly honest. But we went with magic as well, because I remember the excitement that entered my childhood because of santa, easter bunny, etc. I cannot imagine a better explanation when the time comes 🙂

  12. Annie says:

    Mama magic….love it. My two boys just left for high school and I truly miss those days. 🙁
    It goes by way too fast.

  13. Melanie says:

    Tears are running out of my eyes!I don’t know why your post affects me this way,, maybe because time flies faster than ever and I wish I could keep them small…I LOVE your response to the question!! I hope to remember that when my children ask me. Thanks for this..your blog is amazing and inspiring. My favorite!

  14. Jane says:

    Beautiful. Thank you. I have been wondering if this conversation is going to come up for a while – my eldest are 11 and 12. I think the oldest quietly knows. Possibly the 11y.o. does but he also might still be hoping it’s real. And then there’s the 6y.o…. It kind of breaks my heart a bit. But my 12y.o. gives me hope it’s okay – not a terrible letdown – and your own explanation is very, very helpful. I will definitely use this approach if the subject comes up. xx

  15. Katie @ Life With The Crew says:

    “Mama magic” – pretty darn cute. I am a pretty practical gal and don’t really go for the magic, elves, fairy type of things. I am going to try and stretch myself a bit, for my little babe, but I’m drawing the line at some things. Personally, Santa freaks me out and I don’t think they should get rewarded just for losing a tooth – its just a fact of life. But I love the mini-van book fairy!!

  16. Laura says:

    Love this so very much…I still believe in magic deeply which gives a depth to my days, especially they feel overly ordinary or a little drab. My kiddos at 10 and 6 are still holding strong and your words and given me a bit more magical inspiration on how to keep them open to and looking for magic all around. Beautifully said as always, Rachel!!

  17. Knitting Mole says:

    thank you so much for this post Rachel! This is something the hubs and I have been struggling with as well. We too feel we can not lie to our daughter and we DO NOT agree with the commercialization of the holidays so for us Santa and the Bunny were out. (We are not religious people either, so no help there). That left me feeling a bit empty. What do we celebrate then? Is every day just the same? Seems like that would rob our daughter of many happy memories. Your post give me food for thought…will have to get the hubs to read it and see if a re-think is in order 🙂

  18. RitualBath says:

    So beautiful it brought tears. Thank you for sharing, I have worried about the oldest asking and how to keep the magic alive for the baby as she comes up thru the traditions. Such a great example. 🙂

  19. Marsupialmouse says:

    A beautiful post! Love the way you handled this. I am in the same boat as Knitting Mole… I am a scientist at heart, and fairies and elves simply don’t flow naturally from my imagination. I have chosen seasonal, nature centred celebrations to give our family a sense of wonder, celebration, magic. My children are still young so I haven’t really finalised how it will work, but I am envisaging 4 festivals per year – one for each season – with a seasonal feast and traditional decorations, crafts, stories related to that time of year and our particular place in the world. Nature itself has always held a lot of magic for me.

  20. Shannon says:

    Oh my! Thank you so much. My oldest is only almost 4 but I still dread the coming questions.

    Thanks for keeping the magic alive and spreading it so wonderfully…

  21. Kara D says:

    This. is. perfection.
    My son has asked me that question and I keep turning it on it’s head–because I’m not ready to answer it, or I didn’t know how.
    Thank you for giving me a beautiful and honest way to talk about this with him.
    Seriously, you are the best.

  22. Kate says:

    This was so beautiful and touching and in alignment with how I feel about all of this. I cried several times while reading this. And at our house we have the Peacock Fairy, the one who comes and gives you happy dreams at night and chases away the bad dreams. You have given me so many more ideas for bringing more and more magic. And to one day pass the torch as magic keeper to my children is so beautiful. My heart is beaming. Thank you.

  23. Kristan says:

    Our time to answer “the question” involved the tooth fairy this year. My 10 year old lost a tooth at school. When he got home he asked me straight up if I was the tooth fairy. When I said yes, he simply said ok and moved on. A bit later, he asked if he could still have a “gold coin” (the tooth fairy brings dollar coins to our house because that is what the tooth fairy brought to our friends house when the first tooth was lost and we were on vacation with them). “Sure” I said, “do you want it now?” A quick “yes” was followed by a thoughtful moment followed by “you could put it under my pillow if you want” Of course I want. There is still magic in finding the small treasure even if you know who put it there! Rachel, Thank you for sharing all you do!

  24. Karen C says:

    You handled The Question beautifully! My youngest has been hinting that I am Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny…well not so much hinting…she tells me she knows I am. This will be the perfect way to explain it to her. Thanks so much for all you share!

  25. Karen R says:

    ‘Like the magic of the Universe’ he says! How beautiful: not a loss, but a transition. To another magic just as real. I. Love. It. Thanks for sharing Rachel.

  26. Andrea from ziezo says:

    Such a lovely account. . . I am waiting for my eldest to ask the question soon. She’s nearly 10 and although we have to be able to redirect the words of ‘non-magic’ believing neighbour children, I did dread breaking the news to her. Sage’s response is very encouraging and it makes me feel that I am up to it when the question comes.

  27. amerynth says:

    Thank you so much for this well-timed post. My son is two and I struggle with the idea of Santa. You’ve made me feel a little bit better about the idea (which my husband has embraced whole-heartedly.

  28. Rachel V. says:

    Absolutely loved this! I just realized through someone’s comment that some individuals feel it is a lie we tell our children that can eventually lead to damage, or trust issues. I could not believe this when I started to actually research. I am so glad my Dad’s wife Katie posted this, because this is exactly how I have always felt as a kid and even into adulthood.

    My favorites to summarize:
    “Because we believed that a childhood full of magic could help you believe in things you could not see.”
    Your daughter’s priceless response,well beyond her years,
    “Yeah,” my child said. “Like the magic of the universe.”
    And finally,”We thought it would help you believe in yourself when things seemed impossible.
    We believed it would help you reach for things that others thought were unreachable.”
    I have had many lows, ups and downs, but have always found that believing in that magic in the universe. It can also be defined as hope. My mother passed just over a year ago and I always remember the magic she brought, and the hope she reminded me of. She had this quote everywhere and would say it often:
    “Hope is the thing with feathers
    That perches in the soul,
    And sings the tune–without the words,
    And never stops at all,”
    Thank you for sharing your magic, you have brightened my spirit, and reminded me when I needed it.

  29. sandra says:

    Hi I wondered how you wonderful mamas would deal with the child finding out from others or in an awful way.. we cant always control there conversations or interactions with others.. just wondering how you would recommend dealing with that situation..

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