As children we did not grow up steadily, one day at a time. Occasionally, we would leap forward. Getting separated from our mother in the supermarket and—holding panic at bay—finding her on our own could make us instantly feel a year older. It is the same way we felt when we rode off alone on a bicycle for the first time.
While most of these experiences left me exhilarated, there was one leap forward that produced less welcome emotions. When I was eight years old I began to consider the possibility that Santa Claus was not real. Embracing this suspicion made me feel grown up, very suddenly and also very unhappily. Leaving behind a belief in Santa meant I would never again experience the enchantment that accompanied the days leading up to Christmas. The exquisite, almost unbearable anticipation of a fairy tale coming to life, a fairy tale that included me, would be gone forever.
Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today!