“Mommy, is Santa real?”
“That’s a good question sweetheart. What do you think?”
“I think Santa’s real.”
“Okay. Are you happy with that answer or would you like me to answer?”
“Okay. I love you.”
My daughter was about 3 the first time we had this conversation. We had this same conversation every year until she was about 8 or 9. Then she stopped asking. I was pretty sure I knew why. But I didn’t ask and neither did she.
But one year when I was certain she understood, I did bring it up.
“Do you know how the magic of Santa works?”
“Oh? Can you tell me?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
I could’ve left it there. But I didn’t. I explained to her
“Even though you know how magic works, doesn’t make it any less magic. Even though you know how something happens, doesn’t make it any less a miracle. Babies are born every day. I know how it happens, but it’s still amazing each time a baby takes it’s first breath.
“Santa is very powerful magic. His magic invites people all over the world to create happy moments and magical memories – not only for themselves and people they know, but complete strangers. People, humans, may be carrying out the tasks that need doing, but the magic that invites them to act in droves is more powerful than any parent.
“Santa may not make the toys, he may not bring them down the chimney, but his magic inspires parents to step into childhood for a few weeks, and that is more important than any present. Don’t you think?”
“Yes, I like the way you play with us and the special traditions we do at Christmas”
“You see. You may know how the magic works, but it’s still magic. It’s still real. Even if you can’t see it, it’s there. It’s real.”
That year she made stockings for her sibling’s dolls and at Christmas she put them out and filled them with presents for all the dolls. She’s continued this tradition ever since. She’s also stepped in and helped move our elf and create fun scenes with him.
What does Christmas mean to you? When you think of your childhood, what feelings come to mind? Are those the same feelings you’re sharing with your children? If you’re one of the people who had unhappy christmases, are you blaming that on Santa and preventing your children from believing because of your own past?
I get it. We all want to protect our children as much as possible. Just like some parents don’t let their children ride bikes or climb monkey bars because they don’t want them to get hurt. We each protect our children in our own ways. But sometimes we blame our fears or sadness on the wrong thing. We try to protect our children, but can’t because we’re looking in the wrong place.
Whether children believe in Santa is really up to them, but there is no harm in Santa and there is a lot of good. But I do believe the traditional story of Santa needs to shift to fit our world.
In our home, Santa comes every year. There’s no danger of Santa not bringing presents because someone was bad. All children are good. They may make mistakes at times, but they’re still good. Also the Elf on a shelf doesn’t watch to see if children are good – he helps spread Christmas magic and learns about our traditions. I greatly dislike the aspect of the Christmas stories that say Santa’s watching children’s behaviour. Very few children are intentionally bad – and if they are bad, Santa won’t fix that.
I believe it’s important to let children know that Santa’s magic is limited by the rules of a house. This protects them and their friends. One friend may get a puppy from Santa but the other doesn’t (even though they asked – how can you explain this? We don’t allow living animals as surprise presents – parents need to know it’s coming in this house (and we’re not getting a puppy)!! One friend may get 3 large presents another may get a small stocking of toys. It isn’t that Santa loves one more than another – Santa’s magic is limited by the house rules. There are many ways to spread Christmas magic without presents, but it would be a shame if children believed they weren’t loved or valued because another child got more than them. The answer is changing the story – not taking away Santa or presents.
Do you believe in Santa? Have you changed the Santa story in your home? In what way? I’d love to hear the way you do it. How did you help your children when they discovered the truth? Comment below so we can all share ideas to make this Christmas even more magical than the one before!