Wishing all our readers a very Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and a safe and enjoyable holiday season. We’re hitching a lift with Santa for a short break, but the cogs continue turning at SHESAID HQ and we’ll still keep bringing you informative, inspiring and empowering pieces throughout the festive season.
Does your heart sink every time your child questions how Santa does things? Are you wondering if this is the time you’ll have to tell the truth? For me the trickiest part of Christmas is explaining the Kmart wishing tree. It has become our family tradition to leave a few presents under the tree and every time our kids ask why it’s us (and not Santa) getting the presents. I can’t remember what I answered last year, but as unconvincing as it was, the children were satisfied. This time, when I said we were just helping Santa, because it was hard delivering a present to every single child, my almost 8-year-old was doubtful. “Maybe, there’s no Santa. Maybe, it’s just family members pretending to be Santa”.
When is a good time to tell a child the truth about Santa?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this question. It depends on the child. If the child is having fun writing letters, baking cookies, trying to stay awake to have a peek at Santa and is excited to open the presents on the next morning, there’s no reason to stop them from believing, no matter how old they are.
When they begin to question the existence of Santa, you can decide whether or not it’s a good idea to break the news in a gentle way or still keep the story going for a while. Even when kids’ critical thinking becomes more developed, they can still have the two stories exist together. Yes, Santa is real and yes, sometimes family members pretend to be Santa, because they want to give presents, too.
And if kids don’t believe in Santa, it can still be fun for them to pretend that they do. I remember when I was a child I used to look for presents around the house just before Christmas and I’d inevitably find them. It didn’t stop me from having a good time acting as if I had no idea what was coming and where it came from.
In short, if they’re enjoying the story, stick with it. But if it feels like a lot of effort for you and for them to keep the pretense going, it’s probably time to have a conversation about it.
What to say when you’re ready
Santa might not real the way we’re used to imagining him, the Christmas spirit is alive and the myth of Santa is based on reality. Tell your children the story of Saint Nicholas, who used to give secret gifts to the poor and that Santa is not a lie, but a symbol of giving and generousity. Help your children see that Santa Claus lives in each of us, only not quite the way they pictured him before.
In our family, it seems that Santa will be bringing presents for all the kids again this year. My son looked very sad when he was doubting that Santa was real, but his face lit up when he found proof of his existence. “But we left him cookies last year and he ate the cookies. He must be real!”
Image by geralt via pixabay.com
I used to have some doubts about whether or not letting my children believe in Santa was a good idea. Was it lying? Were they going to be disappointed when they found out he wasn’t real? It turned out we didn’t get a choice. My son was petrified of Santa when he was little and I put a lot of effort into dispelling the myth – to no avail. I couldn’t possibly convince him that Santa was just a normal person in a costume and, no, he wasn’t going to sneak into our home at night while we were sleeping.
My son needed to believe in Christmas magic, even if it scared him. Once I realised that, I relaxed into the myth of Santa. I still have a problem with Santa watching your every move and rewarding you depending on whether you’ve been good bad… It would feel like living in a Big Brother house! But the letters, the secret presents and the anticipation of Santa have become a part of our Christmas.
Santa engages children’s imagination
Pretend play, magical creatures and imaginary worlds all contribute to developing your child’s creative thinking. There’ll be plenty of time for kids to get grounded in reality and even then being able to imagine something that doesn’t exist is a vital skill to help them come up with creative solutions.
Santa creates memories
Santa is a topic for lively discussions at home long after Christmas is over. The kids discuss where they met Santa, what he looked like and what he gave them, and what they’re going to ask next year. I still have fond memories of Santa from my own childhood (even though he wasn’t called Santa where I grew up).
Santa gives kids magic
Even when kids are scared, they can still experience happiness and excitement, counting down the days, writing their lists and unwrapping their presents. And when everyone else around them is equally thrilled about Santa coming to town, it makes them a part of something bigger.
As for the Santa myth coming to an end, parents are often more disappointed than kids. For kids it’s like a rite of passage – they’ve got it, they’ve figured something out! Often they continue to play along and pretend that they believe in Santa, and magic still happens.
Image by luckysilver1 via pixabay.com