Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Are We Being Too Cerebral About Santa?

**I blogged TWICE today**

It's that time of year again when parents (and non-parents alike) start to hotly debate whether or not to introduce the idea of Santa Claus to their children. I never even realised this was a debate until about seven years ago or so, I stumbled across a blog where the writer very seriously stated that she and her husband were very uncomfortable with lying to their son about Santa. They had vowed they would never tell their child a lie, and Santa was a lie, hence their son would be told there is no such thing.

Full disclaimer: I totally rolled my eyes after reading her blog.

Full disclaimer: I still want to roll my eyes every time this conversation comes up.

People: chill out.

It's just fun.

I know it's completely up to the individual family if they do Santa or not and that some families don't introduce him for reasons of religious belief, because he simply doesn't jive with why they celebrate December 25th. I also understand that certain families don't celebrate December 25th at all, in any form, hence Santa is not a story they need to tell. I find these reasons easier to swallow, so it's when people try to reason away why they won't do Santa that I just feel exhausted for them.

God it must be dull to be so prosaic all the time.

This year I've spoken to three different moms who won't be telling their kids about Santa, and I find it interesting because all three of them grew up believing in Santa. Their main concern is that they don't want to jeopardise their kids' trust in them when the child grows up to learn that Santa Claus isn't real. I find this to be an interesting concern, because when I asked them if they were traumatised from learning the truth, none of them were.

So if they were unscathed, why do they assume their kids would be any different?

I honestly think those people who were traumatised to learn of Santa's non-existence are the exception to the rule, and as parents you have to suss out what category your kid will fall into. But generally speaking, kids are smart and resilient and at a certain point they figure it out, all on their own. Can you believe it?! It's like they have a brain or something! Zoinks!

Because who doesn't remember asking, "Is Santa really real?"

To me, that's the question where you establish the trust relationship with your kid. If your response is, "Yes! Absolutely! He's totally real, 150%!", then yeah: you lied to your kid. But if you ask them what they think, that's where you get to gage if they want to keep believing for a little longer or if they're over it.

"Do you think Santa's real?"


Ask them why they don't believe, they will give you the sound reasons behind their decision, then tell them they get to be in the club now about people who know that the nice story of Santa is just a story, but it sure is fun to pretend. Because it is.

If your kid is upset because their friend Lazerbeam just told them Santa wasn't real, then it's a pretty good indication they still want to believe and it's a prime moment to teach them that all over the world lots of people believe lots of different things. Your friend Lazerbeam doesn't believe in Santa, and that's cool. Do you believe? You do. That's cool too.

(Also, don't forget there's the age your kid definitely stops believing--about seven--and the age they tell their parents. Who wants to risk not getting a Santa gift?!)

Childhood is a small window of time in a long life, and in my opinion our kids have years and years ahead of them to be sensible and grown-up and logical. The gift of a little magical anticipation on Christmas Eve isn't going to destroy them in the long run (it isn't! Be serious! Do you hear yourself?!), and in my opinion it's quite sad to be so grown-up that we forget how fun and magical it is to be a kid.

Also, the idea of what Santa Claus is born from (the act of selfless gift giving) is an important one to remember this time of year. It's a hard reality that not every family is so fortunate that they can debate whether or not to tell their kid about Santa Claus. Some families can't afford the tale. So remember to be generous to those in your communities who have less, because it's no secret that even adults need to believe around this time of year, too.


mom said...

Good post Cait! I still believe in Santa :-) xxx

CherylfromSaskatchewan said...

Umm....what is this "No Santa" nonsense you speak of??

I still believe in Santa - and so does my husband, and so does my two grown up children.

I think that the Christmas where each of the kids decided that he was not real, but also decided that he was real "in their hearts" were some of the most magical. I will never, ever forget the gleam in their eyes as they watched younger kids and knew that they were the keeper of the best secret in the world!!