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What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Christmas as a kid? Very dangerous question indeed; you never know what this can uncover.. Yet, somehow, Santa Claus is often in the middle of it all; it can be the gifts under the tree, the arguments with your parents when you wanted to hide and wait to catch a glimpse of this mythical figure, or maybe deep down inside the start of mistrust when you realized there was no Santa, despite the promises of your caregivers.
Which begs the question, is Santa a harmless story that only enhances emotions during the Christmas season? It is a question almost all parents have asked me, in one capacity or another.. When I wait to pick up my daughter, when we go out for coffee, when we just chat, somehow, this question always seems to sneak into conversations this time of the year. Should I keep the lie alive? Is it harmful?
The short answer is I don’t actually know. So you can stop reading and not waste more time. The problem is that usually, the next question is: So what do you tell your daughter then? Do you tell her Santa will bring her gifts? And if so, what will happen when she finally realizes you have been lying to her for so many years?
Honestly, I tell her a hybrid story. But let’s stop for a moment and wonder what is so wrong with Santa? And the tooth fairy? Easter bunny??
Arguments for “keeping up the Santa front” are predicated on the fallacy that coming clean about Santa will ruin not only Christmas but also the “wonder of childhood.”: no more thrills, no more wonder, no more magic, and fairy tales.
The problem I see with the Santa tale is that it is a very elaborate fabrication, which could be the last straw if the relationship is already fragile. What else could you possibly have lied about if you had managed to lie so successfully and for so long? The myth itself can confuse a child’s sense of right and wrong. Is it ok to tell a lie, and keep going, if it is for fun?? That seems to be the message.
So, the problem seems to be that we lie to children, we know we lie to them, we keep it up, and all this just for fun. It does sound wrong, indeed. But… What if we shifted the Santa persona, for the Santa myth? Santa story? Santa custom? The idea suddenly seems less perilous and troublesome.
The loss of Santa Claus is unlikely to be the sole cause of your child’s difficulty in accepting the truth when it arises; other difficulties, such as worry, stress, and trauma are far more likely to be to blame. Trust your children and their ability to believe until you see symptoms of these problems, then visit a professional and seek help.
If you think about it, what is Santa if not love? Teach them about the true meaning of love, togetherness, and respect… sprinkle it with fairy dust and let them dream of hope and hugs. When I talk to my baby girl about Santa, I always make sure to talk about the Santa myth. I say I have not seen him, but I do try to help him with gifts.. I tell her that if he doesn’t show up, mommy has her back, and gifts will be waiting for her under the tree.. After all, maybe he needs to help other kids first that they can’t afford this luxury, and then I take her shopping for gifts for charity, I tell her she can now be Santa as well, help other kids that she doesn’t know and they don’t know her, and to them she is Santa. The hope is there, the joy is there, and the essence of Santa is there. The lies are not.
After all, every gift is a little piece of Santa.