An Author Addresses A Young Santa Skeptic — Her DaughterMartha Brockenbrough's new children's book Love, Santa answers potentially delicate questions. "This source of magic that so enraptures us around this time of year — well, it's us," she says.
An Author Addresses A Young Santa Skeptic — Her Daughter
There's a big, green, tinsel warning label across the cover of Martha Brockenbrough's new book, Love, Santa, illustrated by Lee White. It reads: "The beautiful truth about Santa."
Brockenbrough's book is written as a series of letters between her and her daughter, Lucy, who begins to write Santa Claus when she's 7 years old.
"Dear Santa, how do you get down all the chimneys?" Lucy writes in the book. "What happens when people live in homes without fireplaces? Why does your handwriting look like my mom's?"
"I wrote this book for my daughter," Brockenbrough says. "And it actually wasn't ever meant to be a book at all. It was a letter to her."
On how Love, Santa came to be
When she was in third grade, we were keeping a letter journal back and forth. She had dyslexia, and it was one of the ways that I was teaching her how to read and write. And so she would bring home a letter from school and I would write her a reply. And you know the letters were about all sorts of things, and at one point, she asked me a really good question about Santa Claus. And this became my reply, and other parents found it really helpful. And so I posted it on a blog, and then The New York Times picked up a version on their online parenting section, and it went all around the world and I never thought it would be a book. It was simply my answer to my daughter's excellent question. And over a period of years I kept thinking about it and shared it with my editor at Scholastic, and he thought there was a book in there. And it was really when I came upon the idea of writing it as a series of letters between a mom and a growing girl that suddenly its shape as a book took form.
You know, Santa's really wise and recognizes that social media — while it is a fun way to connect — can sometimes distract us from our real work. And the work of Santa is to spread love and joy and not just tweets.
On her reply when Lucy first wrote the letter about Santa
You know, all along we think about our kids and what we want to tell them at important milestones. This is one that I had actually been thinking about, starting when I was 17 years old. I had a really wonderful English teacher, and he gave the graduation speech. And he concluded his speech with a two-word bit of advice: "Have faith." In what? That's for you to decide. And so I spent my late adolescence and my early adulthood deciding what it was that I was going to have faith in. And so, I told my daughter to have faith in herself, in her family and her friends, and even in things that we can't see or touch. And I told her, you know, "Here, I'm talking about love, which is going to light your life from the inside out, even when it's cold and dark." And this is something that I truly believe, is that we can light each other's lives and that this source of magic that so enraptures us around this time of year — well, it's us.
Sophia Schmidt and Barrie Hardymon produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Sydnee Monday adapted it for the Web.