Experiencing the holidays as a parent is an amazing feeling. Watching your child’s face light up with innocent wonder as they hear tales of Santa and his flying reindeer can make even the grinchiest parents feel jolly. Who can resist those little faces aglow with excitement when counting down the days? Their happiness is contagious. It triggers memories from your own childhood and the joy of spreading that magic for them is indescribable.
That is until you hear those three dreaded words.
“Is Santa real?”
The questions usually start when your child is school aged and their thinking becomes more concrete. It also doesn’t help when classmates spill the beans, leaving your once unsuspecting child now filled with questions.
My daughter began questioning the big guy in red around first grade. Back then it was easy to offer explanations that she happily accepted.
“Well, I know Tabitha told you that Santa isn’t real, but do you believe in Santa?”
“Yes! I believe in Santa even if other kids do not,” she would reply, and that was the end of the discussion. Until this year.
Avery is now 9-years-old and my strategy of answering a question with a question will no longer suffice. For a while now I’ve been able to see the wheels in her mind turning, collecting evidence and building a case against good ol’ St. Nick. She was growing up and when we’ve asked if she believes in Santa, the “yes” replies came more slowly and with less confidence.
So, my husband and I offered to sit down with her and give it to her straight. She asked and we answered. No, Santa isn’t one real person. He is many people. He is make believe like so many other fairy tales you have heard. He is a symbol for believing in something you can’t see and for spreading the magic of giving to others. Dad and I are the ones that put presents under the tree. Now you know the secret of Santa and the magic of believing. When you grow up, if you choose to, you can pass the tradition on to your children.
She took it well. I think she feels special knowing a secret that her younger brothers haven’t yet figured out.