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?