When my husband was just a little boy his older brother woke him one Christmas Eve so he could witness his older sister surreptitiously filling the stockings. The message: there was no Santa Claus providing gifts – only his sister. He was devastated.
I remember the Christmas when I came to realize that it was not Santa Claus but Mom who prepared, wrapped and delivered the presents we found beneath the tree on Christmas morning. I was saddened by this realization that Santa Claus was not real and some of the magic of Christmas was forever lost for me.
Neither my husband nor I were willing to create those kinds of experiences for our children by telling them something they would later lead to disappointment yet we didn’t want to deprive them of this aspect of the magic of Christmas by not “giving” them the Santa Claus experience.
My husband, thankfully, knew what to do.
He told the children a different Santa Claus story; a story of a kind man who had lived many centuries ago who helped poor children by secretly giving them gifts. He told them that at Christmastime we celebrate the spirit of Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children, who we call Santa Claus.
He also made sure they understood that their friends had heard a different Santa Claus story and so they could not share with them what they now knew.
They understood. When Natasha was eighteen months old she said to us, “Santas are old daddies.” Well, they understood enough.
In their minds it mattered little whether it was a jolly red-suited man who placed presents beneath the tree or their parents doing so in memory of a generous man.
Their experience of Santa Claus was just as rich as that of any other child. And none of the magic of Christmas was lost for them – ever.
What is your Santa Claus story? How did/will you handle the Santa Claus story with your children?
Photo credit: Sam Howzit