Answering questions about Father Christmas: How do you do Santa in your house?

When it comes to questions about Santa’s extraordinary stamina and logistical feats on Christmas Eve, we as parents are often heard talking about the magic of Christmas and the power of believing. To the innocent and unsuspecting little minds, those hooves clippity clapping on the rooftop never break a single roof tile and their tummies are never full from ingesting a gazillion carrots. Santa, no surprise is a little on the tubby side, but never leaves more than a few crumbs behind from the cookies, milk and occasional beer. Lucky for him Rudolph has that nose to guide a slightly sloshed Santa through the skyways to deliver all the goodies for all the boys and girls. I like the idea of Santa. I like the magic of Christmas and I like joy he brings to all the little girls and boys. 

But a few years ago whilst shopping with my sons, we stopped to choose a gift to place at the bottom of the Wishing Tree for those kids less fortunate. For those kids who unlike my own, would wake up on Christmas morning with very little if anything at all. On discussing this less than magical predicament, my 7 year old questioned the rather elitist nature of Santa’s delivery. “Why would he give presents only to those kids who already have stuff, and leave out those that don’t?” Caught a little on the spot with no time to come up with a well thought answer, I replied that whilst Santa delivered the presents and also decided if the child’s behaviour warranted it (whatever), it was in fact the parents that sent Santa some money in order for him to do the making and purchasing for each child. Not particularly great either but it seemed to appease for the time being.

Last week I was at lunch with some girlfriends and we discussed how we respond to our kids when their belief starts to waver. What do we say when they hear things from friends, siblings and others in the schoolyard? How do we feel when the development of reason, analysis and rationality begins to take over the childlike unsuspecting innocence that eagerly indulges all that magic?

People all over the world do the whole Father Christmas thing quite differently. And even amongst my friends we discovered we all had different ways of determining the role that Santa plays on Christmas morning. Some give him all the accolades, whilst others ensure that Santa only gets kudos for the stocking filler stuff. One friend, on telling her daughter all year that Santa has every right to give a sack of potatoes if the behaviour warranted it, proceeded to add a couple of potatoes to her present sack, just to let her know that this was a serious threat.

My older boys are in that in between age I think, where they are maturing enough to know that it may not all be real, but still have sitting in the back of their minds somewhere that little saying, “if you don’t believe, you don’t receive.” And they aren’t quite ready to risk that yet.

How do you do Father Christmas in your household? Or how have you answered “those” questions in the past?

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This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Clare

    Great read Marty. Luckily our 7 year old hasn’t yet questioned santa’s existence, I dread the day she does! I can only hope that she asks us about it without sharing the news with her younger sister. I think the saying “if you don’t belive you don’t receive” is one of the best sayings ever! Our girls both know about the potatoes they’ll get if you aren’t good, but they haven’t received any to date. In our house, the main presents are from us as we feel the kids should know that we have spent a fair amount on them, I think it helps learn the value money. Santa gives them lots of stocking fillers, which I sit and wrap carefully before they go in the stocking. It adds to the excitement.
    Hope you and the boys have an awesome Christmas. Xxx

    1. Martine

      I am sure your girls will never get potatoes!I like the idea of letting them know about the value of money. Have a fabulous Christmas too xxx

  2. Melissa

    We have never done Santa in our house. My kids have stockings – that is a sanity saver as they are allowed to open them as early as they like, so long as they don’t wake the rest of the household until a designated time! Because of this, many of those questions have been avoided 🙂 Although, they do like making up their own theories for various Santa questions!

    1. Martine

      Thats really interesting Melissa. Do they ask though about Santa going to other peoples houses and not theirs? Wishng you a wonderful Christmas x

  3. kirri

    I have been pondering this myself…my eldest is 7 and still firmly believes but Im sure that is only going to last another year or two at the most. Im interested to know how parents with older kids have handled it when kids no longer believe and whether they felt lied or how they explained themselves?

    1. Martine

      Interesting thought Kiri. I know some may feel that way but I suspect many just take it as a sign of ‘growing up’. When I look back at my childhood I staunchly believed until about grade 3. I dont really remember being upset about finding out… long as I still got pressies! Every now and then though I guess I would get sentimental about ‘losing’ that little bit of Christmas magic.

  4. Mel

    Thankfully we’re not there yet (my kids are 2 1/2 and 3 1/2) but we have already started with the “if you’re good, Santa will come and leave you presents” and we allow them to ask Santa for one present, but its usually a small one. I don’t think I spend more than $20-30 per child from Santa. Christmas is expensive enough without us having to buy big pressies from both us and Santa. How we’d go about explaining Santa when their belief starts to waiver, I don’t know – we’ll think of something at the time and its probably going to be done in coordination with our friends so all the kids get told the same story. Will also depend on what school they’re going to and what they do at the school too.

    1. Martine

      Thanks Mel, just enjoy it all while you can I say! And yes Christmas can be extremely expensive so you need to keep it under control.

  5. Kate

    In our house, we have a 9 year old who knows how it all works, and a 6 year old who is entrenched in the magical wonder of Santa. The older one is quite pragmatic, and when he was 7 he just asked me outright about the easter bunny, tooth fairy and santa. No one had influenced him, he just couldn’t quite get how it was all logistically possible!! I was honest with him, but impressed on him that he had a responsibility now as the ‘keeper of the secret’. He has taken on this role quite seriously, and it is so lovely to watch him going along with all the Santa mystery with his younger brother, and also his friends who still believe.

    1. Martine

      That is very sweet Kate. There is nothing like a big brother taking on some responsibility. It is interesting how some kids work it out early on, but great that he is willing to play along for the sake of others. Have a fabulous Christmas 🙂

  6. Diff

    Hi, I will never forget when my eldest, Sarah came home and asked me very seriously, that she needed to speak to me, her face was pale and her eyes dull. I said ” Of course darling tell me”, we were having a dinner party that night and a couple of friends had already arrived. She said, ” I Mean in Private Mum it is very important”, we went to her room and she advised me to sit on her bed, she sat next to me, looking very pensive, I said ” whats wrong darling you can tell me anything’ she said, ‘ Santa is not real” . I have never felt so much relief, as the journey to that story had me feeling quite concerned after a few queries as to why she was thinking or telling me this, we discussed the disappointment of magic turning into reality. The deal was made!! her younger brother Luke was never to be told. By us anyway. The age group 8, 10

    1. Martine

      Yes I guess it is always going to be a nervewracking way to start a conversation! Well at least you knew even from then she would be able to turn to you when she needed to and she would get an honest answer. 🙂

  7. Melissa @ Hilltop Hausfrau

    I’ll admit, I’m reading the answers carefully here. My littles are only four and one. They still believe with vigour. Thanks for reminding me of what is inevitably to come…Happy December from Vancouver, Canada!

    1. Martine

      It is a great age to really still enjoy that magic, enjoy and have a fabulous Christmas. I imagine it will look a little different to Christmas here in Australia!

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