Pants on Fire
“I think you are lying, Mummy”. My five year old, Dylan, looks me straight in the eye and waits for me to deny his accusation.
I go politician on him and ask a sideways question: “Oh, what exactly am I lying about?”
“You don’t really know Santa’s phone number do you?”
Oh Dylan, you don’t know the half of it.
I have written before how I was reluctant to perpetuate the Santa myth in my household but then decided it was the path of least resistance. With a curious five year old, it does NOT feel like the easy way now.
Here is a sample of tough Santa questions that I have had to deflect this festive season:
- How does Santa come into our house since we have no chimney?
- Since Eloise hasn’t written a letter to Santa, how does he know what she wants?
- My friend from Ireland said it is daytime over there when it is nighttime here so when does Santa visit them?
- Why is Santa visiting here (the mall, the daycare Christmas party) when he should be at the North Pole?
Sometimes I try to explain Santa’s movement in purely logistical terms – Santa makes two trips – one to the Northern Hemisphere and one to the Southern Hemisphere. That doesn’t sound as romantic as flying around the world in one night but it seems sufficient.
However, I find myself stumbling over answers and going down rabbit holes caused by lie after lie. We can leave the ranch slider door unlocked. Just on that one night. Yes, Santa will know exactly which door is unlocked. No, I promise no burglars will come into the house as well. Santa is only here to drop off presents, he won’t have time to play with your Lego. Of course he will have time to eat the cookies. No, you won’t hear him.
Oh look, he is magic, okay. Santa is magic. The answer to ALL of your questions is that Santa is magic. And has elves helping him. Magic elves.
Really Tough Questions
These aren’t the difficult questions though. They are irritating but mostly funny and I always have the ‘magic’ answer up my sleeve.
The really tough questions, the ones that stab me in the heart, are along these lines: “Why can’t I get everything on my list?” or “Did you know the elves can make me anything I want?” or “But what else will Santa get me?”
The Santa myth has its place as a childhood fairytale, but its accompanying link to getting, to material items, to rampant consumerism, is the part of it I dislike the most. After all, I lie to my kids about quite a lot of things so the lies are actually not a big deal. But the fact that my five year old only thinks about what he can GET at Christmas time? Now that makes me question how I am raising my kids.
Change the Paradigm
So how to change the emphasis from getting to giving? How do I let my kids have a wonderful Christmas AND also teach them to not be a selfish consumer? How do I encourage them to give without wanting to get?
I know as parents we already give, give, give. We give out so much – empathy, a listening ear, praise and thanks. Day in and day out. And it gets tiring. Oh so tiring. But somehow, all this giving has to rub off on our offspring in the long run.
The only other way I can think of is to make a big deal when my children give to me. In fact, when I actually stop and notice, my kids do give me a lot. I get a ton of hugs and kisses, two people who listen to me sing without complaint and many drawings and paintings from my budding artists. Until I wrote this I didn’t appreciate all that as much as I could have. To teach them Christmas is not all about presents, I guess I need to be a bit more present with my tiny humans.
The Season of Giving
After all, the most magic thing about Christmas is not Santa, but that Christmas feeling. And that feeling can’t be bought or requested; it simply arrives when you least expect it. When you see your child’s eyes sparkle as the Christmas tree lights get turned on or when the kids in the backseat spontaneously erupt into a silly version of ‘Jingle Bells’. That feeling is Christmas’ gift to all of us.
Festive Greetings to you all. Love, Julie, Andrew, Dylan and Eloise.
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