Santa? Is that you, mom?Subscribe
My kids are bugging to know if I am Santa. I keep telling them how OFFENDED I am that they are saying I look like a fat old guy with a big ol' beard but I think I need to tell them the truth. I can't remember how old I was when I learned the truth about Santa but these guys seem so young (10 and 7 years). **sobs** I'm not against telling them the truth but I want them to understand that this truth is NOT to be shared with other children (especially their younger cousins). Any tips on putting their question to bed?
I'm facing this problem this year, as my 14 and almost 12 year olds are certain that Santa doesn't exist, my 9-year-old is on the fence about it, my 3-year-old is a brand-new true believer, and my 1 year old is sweet and clueless (and more interested in the wrapping paper, bows, and boxes than their contents). So, the big kids are keeping up appearances for the little ones, and the little ones think that Santa brings them one present each and the rest of the gifts are from friends and family. So far, so good...
When Our oldest was about 9, though, she asked whether Santa was real, and was told, very gently, that Santa was a lovely idea and the spirit of Christmas was very real, but Santa himself was not an actual single person. She curled up quietly on a chair to think about it, then looked around, panicked and upset. "So, if Santa isn't real," she asked, all worried, "what about God?"
That was a tough one!
We've been walking on eggshells with this one for a couple of years. My husband is pretty sure his daughter, now 13, knows "the truth" about Santa, but we've never discussed it directly. My 8-year-old stepson is definitely still in Santa mode, though, and the plan is not to discuss anything different in front of him until he brings it up. We'll see how long it lasts...
It's tricky for me because my son was raised without Santa at all (long story, his father's idea...), so I have to be careful what I say around my stepson. When we were out shopping last weekend and mentioned getting something for someone's Christmas stocking, my husband gently reminded me that Santa brings the stockings. Since my stepkids switch which parent they spend Christmas with each year, we've also had to assure them that Santa knows how to find them, wherever they are - and that applies to both kids, since they boy isn't supposed to know that his sister might know differently...
It gets crazy, doesn't it?
Bwah-ha. Lylah's comment explains very well why I opted not to sell Santa as real. Ever. My kids didn't enjoy Christmas any less, and they were under VERY strict instructions not to enlighten their peers -- and they never did.
Despite all that, my youngest opted to believe in Santa for a few years, which amused me no end, and we went along with it. THAT was odd: we all knew that she knew, but she wanted the fantasy, so we all allowed it.
I generally approach touchy questions with a question, to evaluate their mindset. "Is there such a thing as Santa, mom?" I might say, "Sounds to me like you've been wondering about that. What do YOU think?", or "What makes you ask?"
That usually lets you know where they're coming from, and you can tailor your information accordingly.
MaryP - Your Socratic approach is exactly how my mom responded when my sister and I asked her about Santa (I think I was nine, and my sister's a year and a half younger), and she ended up letting me answer my own question.
I'm interested to note that you didn't "sell Santa as real" to your kids - I haven't met anyone besides me who went that route. But Chris had the same directive not to tell anyone else, and he was good about it - he even played along with adults who expected him to be a believer.
Florinda! You did that, too? You are the first person I've ever known besides myself who did that. Yet another point of congruity!
I find asking questions is very often the best way to approach things, more and more as they get older. They see you as respectful and interested (which you are!) and you learn a lot. If I blurt out my ideas first, sometimes I miss the mark, the kid just shuts right down, and I'm not given a second chance to find out what's really going on with them. Teenagers are not always very forgiving about being misunderstood. "Never mind, mum. It doesn't matter." AAAAGH!
I know Christmas is past, but what I've been telling them (my girls are now 9 and 11) the past two years is this:
"Christmas and Santa are two different things. Christmas is about Christ's birthday. Remember you don't have to see Christ to believe in him or to celebrate his birthday. Santa is about Magic. If you don't believe in Santa's magic, that's ok. Just remember that there won't be any presents under the tree from Santa if they don't believe in the magic."
The girls were even more into our family Christmas traditions than we were this year! It's fun now because they are old enough to remind us old folks when we forget to do something!