I had an interesting conversation with my friend, Deanna about Santa Claus. She, like me, has older children who are past the ‘believing’ age. She was asked how to handle the topic of Santa with young children. It’s one of those gray areas in child rearing. We don’t want to take the magic away and yet we are basically lying to our children if we profess these myths. So what to do?
I guess that is why Deanna and I are being asked these questions by young moms. If this is your dilemma, I can only offer my experience. I can’t ever remember believing in Santa. I do remember my mom telling me that she would only tell me the truth and that is why she didn’t repeat the stories. Sounds like a line from “Miracle on 34th Street”. That mom, Dory, was right contrary to the plot. Truth is far better for our kids. Growing up this way didn’t squelch my love of that movie! We have to watch it Thanksgiving day every year. It’s tradition to my children.
The truth did not hinder my creativity or imagination as you know just by looking at the cast of characters in KinderBach. I read voraciously as a child and loved being submerged in another world, no lack of invention. Thanks to my mother, I always knew the difference between fact and fantasy. It doesn’t mean I had less enjoyment.
How did I deal with Santa with my own kids? (I think you are going to like this.) I told them the truth with a little supposing on how history has played out. Santa or Father Christmas or St. Nicholas was a real person who lived a long time ago. He actually was a minister or priest in the church – my kids understood ‘pastor’. He loved Jesus and children very much so he gave gifts to all the kids he knew to celebrate Christ’s birth. He used to leave the presents at people’s houses because he didn’t want a lot of attention. He was giving to honor God, not expecting praise. People thought this was such a great idea that they kept giving gifts to others on Christmas even after he died. They gave gifts from “St. Nicholas” so they would remain anonymous.
As the story of Father Christmas spread from one country to another, people would add their own ideas to suite their traditions. So today we have the imaginary Santa Claus who everyone pretends is real because we want to remember to be kind and give gifts to others. Children have no trouble understanding make believe. I stressed this point; EVERYONE pretends. That is why we have so many books about Santa and also why the stories are not the same. We are all playing make believe. In order to participate and have full stockings on Christmas day, kids must keep pretending too.
Did I take my kids to see Santa at the mall? Yes, if the line was short. Did we watch Santa movies? Absolutely. Did we hang our stockings Christmas Eve? Yup. We even left cookies and milk. It’s all part of the game. EVERYONE pretends. We had a great time! This is ‘make believe’ for all people and my kids had a wonderful experience ‘playing’ it with the world outside our home.
Why did I do it this way? When Brock was about 5, he watched “The Santa Clause” on TV and he asked me, “Can I believe in Santa if I want to?” That movie is really convincing to a little guy. I told him, “You can believe in anything you want. I have told you the truth as I know it because I want you to know that I will always tell you the truth. I didn’t repeat stories about Santa because he is not real. God is real. Jesus is real. When I tell you about God, you know I am telling you the truth and you can believe it.”
There is my experience for what it is worth. I kept the honesty and the fantasy. Win win!
Keep making music together,