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