It's not clear to me what John's views on Santa are. Faith is a private thing, and I don't need to go digging around in it. He has given me looks while writing letters to Santa, as if looking for affirmation one way or the other, and I have provided ambiguous answers to his indirect questions. He will never ask straight out, because that's not his style.
The other day he lost a tooth and told me, "I think you should tell the Tooth Fairy that I think I should get an extra fifty cents for this tooth. I don't have many left, and this one is kind of a big one."
"I'll let her know if I see her," I said, continuing my work.
He paused, and I looked up. I winked at him, and he winked back. Then he sat down and said, "Mom, I'm having trouble believing that Santa can come down our chiminey." He made the word three syllables, as he always has.
"Oh?" I asked.
"I mean, how can Santa fit in it?" he asked, indicating the hearth.
"Well, they say he's magic," I said.
He nodded. "I'm just not sure I believe in that kind of magic anymore." He paused. "I mean, I believe in Harry Potter magic, and Artemis Fowl and Narnia and that kind of thing, but..."
"There's always magic, sweetheart," I said, trying not to feel like a Disney movie. "Sometimes things change and you look at something in a new way, but you can always see something special in it. Even when you're an old person you can go outside on nights like Christmas and feel like there's something different. That can be a kind of magic, too."
He thought for a minute, and nodded, and smiled. He went to his room to put his tooth, only one of a few baby teeth left, on his bedside table for the Tooth Fairy to find.