Hard Topics: Is Santa Real?
I value authenticity and truth above most things. (Except for maybe popcorn and La Croix. For those things, I would lie, steal, and beg. #sorrynotsorry) But what about Santa -- does authenticity and truth apply to him?
This is what kept me up at night as a new mom. Not potty training or how to teach my kids manners. Just Santa and what to do about him.
That's because I loooooooooooved Christmas as a kid. I loved the magic and excitement, the nervousness I felt when going to bed and wondering if I'd hear his sleigh that night. Naturally this made the news Shann Nolden told me in the second grade crushing.
"Santa's not real," she blurted out after gym class one day.
"What do you mean?!?" I stammered, no longer able to tie up my shoes. "How do you explain the time I went to Disney World and came back to presents under the tree!?!?" But Shann held her ground. And I went home in despair.
Later that night -- after my parents confirmed my worst nightmare -- I sobbed and sobbed atop my hot pink bed. To this day I don't think they know how distraught I was over this news.
As a mom, I obviously wanted to spare my children from such pain and agony...yet I also REALLY wanted to do Santa (despite my obvious trauma 😆).
After hours of intentional thought and research, I eventually found a way to stay true to my values AND to Santa.
For starters, I never told my kids Santa was real.
When they asked me questions like, "Is Santa real?" or "How does he get into our house?" I'd simply reply with, "What do you think?" 100% of the time they gave me their own answers which satisfied their curiosity.
I know this Socratic method may not work on your smarter than smart children, especially if you're raising a Shann Nolden. In which case, you should move swiftly on to step two.
Check out a book on Saint Nicholas and read it with your child.
Saint Nicholas was a Christian man born in 280 A.D. who is said to have given away all of his inherited wealth to the poor (history.com). This fact is what I looked for in a library book — not coins in shoes or presents in stockings. I then read the book with my kids and discussed how Santa isn't real, but that he's derived from Saint Nicholas, a man whose whole premise was to give gifts without receiving the credit.
Huzzah! Authenticity and truth for the win! 🙌
Then, I let my kids be Santa. (This is the best part.)
After dropping the "Santa bomb", I would tell my girls they got to be Santa that year. Their eyes would grow wide with excitement as I'd further explain how they needed to pick out a gift for someone that year and give it to them "from Santa". They LOVED doing this, and I loved that it reinforced the heart behind Saint Nicholas and Santa.
Now I realize this topic may not pose a problem for you. In fact, I have several mom friends who don't do Santa at all, and several others who told their kids the deal from day one. Whatever you chose to do, just make sure you talk to your kids early on about it so you can beat out the Shann Noldens of this world.
I'll address this in more detail in my next article on how to talk to your kids about sex, but essentially the earlier we can discuss hard topics with our kids, the easier it will be to build trust with them and to parent offensively.
Good luck you guys! And Merry Christmas. 🎄
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