Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Santa Claus is Coming, and I'm going to keep it that way!

Ah, the age old question, "Is Santa real?"  You may be getting this question sooner than you want, especially with all the different parental methods and cultures your children run into today.  For instance, I had a student once who was a Jehovah's Witness.  I think that's fine, they can choose whatever religion they prefer.  However, the boy came to school and told EVERYONE that there was no such thing as Santa.  Of course, he was a cool kid so I had lots of tears and questions from other kids.  I had kids who weren't ready to hear "the truth," and parents who didn't want their kids to hear this from anyone else.  On a similar note, I remember when my little sister, Jennie, came home from 2nd grade in tears.  It seemed that one of Jennie's best friends had informed her all about "the truth."  Jennie asked where the little girl heard it, and the girl promptly told her that "her Daddy said so."  Well, normally Jennie believed our dad above everyone else - but this girl's dad was also our Bishop.  Poor Jennie!  She was only 7!  I figured it out when I was 5 and made sure that Jennie believed long afterwards.  In fact, she didn't know until she was 14 and even that was an accident!  Now, I can't promise that your kids are going to make it to their teens, my sister is a bit on the naive side (sorry, Jen, but you are :).  However, here are a few answers and tactics to help keep your kids believing for a few extra years.
  • First of all, Santa has a different wrapping paper than anyone else.  Make sure that your child doesn't see you buy it, wrap with it, or use it for ANY reason.  I know how tempting it is to use that little scrap for something your mailing to your brother, but don't do it if there is any chance your little one will see it: they're more observant than you think they are.
  • Santa always had a different handwriting on the tags than my parents did.  One year they forgot and I asked why Santa had the same handwriting as Dad.  The answer: "Because there are so many children in the world that sometimes Santa has the Daddys help."
  • If your kids find Santa presents in your house early (I was a little snoop, this happened to me, too).  The answer: "Santa has so many kids to visit in one night that he dropped off the presents with us early."  Of course, emphasize that they're magical presents and if your kids aren't good, or if they find them again, the presents will disappear before Christmas morning.
  • We always wanted to get out of bed to see if Santa had come.  Not necessarily to catch him, but we were just too excited for that long night to end!  Santa solved this problem by placing a piece of candy on our nightstands.  That way when we woke up and wanted to know if Santa had come, we didn't have to get out of bed!
  • When Jennie asked if Santa was real or if the Bishop was lying, we were stumped.  How do you tell your little one not to believe your religious leader in this one thing only?  The answer: "Santa only comes to houses where kids believe in him.  So, even though the Bishop's house doesn't believe, we do; Santa will be here."  This also works for kids who hear "the truth" at school.
  • Finally, a really fun tradition.  There is a German custom of having a blown glass pickle ornament.  Santa hides the pickle and leaves an extra present marked "pickle."  The first one to find the pickle gets the extra present.  It's harder to find than you may think! In our house, the pickle present is always something we can use as a family.  No matter who opens it, it belongs to everyone - that way there is no fighting over who gets the extra present.  In years past it has been video games, movies, cell phones, board games, etc.  It's always one of my favorites because it's a family thing.  And even though Jennie is 24, she still gets a little miffed if she doesn't find the pickle: it's really fun to watch!
Have fun and let me know if you have any other questions about "the truth."  I'm actually pretty good at answering them, if I do say so myself!


Drew said...

I totally agree with this. There was this sister in my mission who said she thinks it's dishonest for parents to teach their children that Santa Claus is real, and said, "I'm just glad my parents never lied to me," and I said, "I'm just glad my parents gave me a magical childhood." I mean, really!

Another suggestion is, of course, the milk and cookies. I was utterly convinced Santa was real because those cookies were GONE in the morning. Also, once he left us a chalkboard easel with a message on it, and yes, it was in different handwriting than either of my parents.

Tammy said...

I have come up with the BEST method to hide gifts. It works so well that last year we had to sit my then almost 13 year old son down and tell him in very exact terms that Santa was not real (and then we had another conversation a week later because he thought that we where kidding!) We have moved alot and I always have shelves with boxes on them. I have 2 very large boxes that say coats on them (who would want to look at boxes with coats in them) These boxes are on a top shelf and stay empty until I start buying Christmas presents. I hide all of the christmas presents in those boxes and my kids have NEVER found them. The boxes have to stay there all year round for it to work, but since I start buying christmas rather early it works great for me!
I am a very firm believer that children need the magical/fairy tale part of life to be able to learn how to cope with the yucky parts of real life. We also all need the chance to learn how to believe and have faith in something that you cannot see. Santa makes it a little easier because there is a very tangable reminder of his very "real" presence once a year. What better way to learn the building blocks of faith.