My family has always celebrated Christmas in the traditional way–by playing Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” every day on repeat from November 15 until January 1. This is a tradition we have always believed in and reminded us of the true meaning of Christmas: holding your family close, pop classics, and only wanting one person for Christmas.
But this year, everything changed so much sooner than I had thought. My youngest daughter Camden, age five, was in tears because a boy in her class had spilled the beans: “Mariah Carey isn’t real, she’s just a lie parents tell kids to make Christmas seem more special,” he told her.
I was shocked. I always knew this day would come, but I hoped it wouldn’t be so soon.
“So when Mariah sings about not wanting a lot for Christmas, that’s just parents that want that?” Camden asked, her lower lip quivering. “Why would you lie to me?”
I never thought Camden would find out so quickly. My older daughter hadn’t become suspicious until age 9 when she asked, “Mommy, how come no other people can hit notes as high as Mariah Carey?” But I quickly covered, telling her that it’s Christmas magic that makes the notes soar so high and that if she believes, Mariah could hit even higher notes. She breathed a sigh of relief, not ready to let go of that childlike wonder quite yet.
In today’s dark, tumultuous world, I just wasn’t ready for my five-year-old to lose the pure magic that is “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Her joy was keeping all of us in on the magic of Mariah. When we’d sing along as a family, I could feel my oldest, now 14, almost believing again.
I pulled out all the stops with Camden, trying to convince her of Mariah’s realness–putting on my Mariah Carey sexy Santa costume and sauntering into her room at night when she was asleep, whispering the lyrics in her ear. She just flicked on the lights and said, “I know it’s you mom. You haven’t got the range.” Nothing worked.
But that’s when I realized something important. It wasn’t that believing in Mariah was so important to Christmas, it was being by the tree with the ones I loved, with the incessant beat of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” thumping in our heads for days on end. We may lose our childhood innocence of believing Mariah Carey is a real recording artist, but the magic of Christmas can never be extinguished.
This Christmas, I’ll be sitting next to Camden, giving her a little wink every time Mariah hits those high notes.