It is that time of year when the house is decorated with gold, red and green. The Christmas trees have been carefully decorated, and the front yard is alit with thousands of twinkling lights. Yes, it is definitely Christmas time, and my kids are eagerly waiting for the big red-suited guy to make his appearance tonight.
The stockings are hung by the chimney (with care). We have our cookies baked and ready for the plate. Santa will get a glass of chocolate milk as that is my son’s favorite. And of course, we have reindeer food to sprinkle on the lawn.
Yes, my kids believe in Santa. And with Jase in the first grade, I sometimes wonder how long it will be before he hears the whispers and the other kids declaring that Santa doesn’t exist. Last year in his kindergarten class there was a boy who didn’t get Santa gifts but Jase never questioned that. Now we have a family who moved into our neighborhood who doesn’t believe in Santa. I keep wondering if this is the year that the questions start.
I participated in an online poll the other day about what age was the right to break the news about Santa to your kids. There were comments at the bottom of the poll, and I was surprised how many parents didn’t allow their kids to believe in Santa Claus.
Quite a few of the people didn’t like lying to their children. That made me think about my discussion about death with my daughter earlier this month. I said that I wouldn’t lie to her and went on to explain that we will all die someday.
So when she finds out the truth about Santa, will she feel I lied? Or will she recall the magic of the season – of a time when she believed in something good and special?
It is hard to say. I don’t recall when I learned the truth, and I certainly don’t recall it making me trust my parents any less. Childhood is so short. Why not let them believe in something magical?
We have never used Santa as a way to get our kids to behave. We have never told them Santa won’t bring them a gift or that their stocking will be filled with coal. Nor have we used the Elf on a Shelf like my friend does to keep her three boys behaving nicely during the season.
We also do not attribute all gift to being from Santa. He brings them each one gift and fills their stocking with books, candy and small toys. The rest of the presents have been under the tree for weeks, and the kids know they came from their uncles and grandparents as well as my husband and me.
So how long will they believe in Santa? I have no clue. If they ask me straight out, will I continue to “lie” to them? No but I will ask them what they think and lead the conversation from there. In the end, they will know about St. Nick and how he is a symbol of hope and generosity that has brought joy to millions of children.
And I hope this Christmas magic – the goodness and the spirit of giving – continues well past their belief in the big guy. But for now, I will sit back and enjoy the magic of Santa and watch the hope and wonder on my children’s faces.