But I want to give my children Santa Claus. I DO give my children Santa. And I think about the letter to Virginia and how Santa embodies the SPIRIT of christmas. GETTING STUFF. LOTS OF IT. And I want my children to have that magic. And also I’d like them to be good for four weeks and not have to play the bad guy for once.
But really, I’m giving them a guy in a red suit. And we also talk about Jesus. Who must have been REALLY good to get all that gold, frankincense and myrrh. Which is today’s equivalent to an x-box, a bike and a football jersey. Probably.
I want to claim: I’ve never lied to you. But now I can’t.
And on top of this, I have Christmas-celebrating friends who don’t DO the whole Santa thing. They’re living the TRUTH-TELLING DREAM. One friend was asking Facebook what she should have her children say to all our children who have been defrauded by their parents. Facebook didn’t answer, but I suggested isolating her children during the month of December to not destroy the hopes and dreams and magical world of lies that we have so painstakingly created. (Who’s doing newspaper and boot marks with ash? So you know what I’m talking about.)
And of course, I have many friends who aren’t Christian or secular Christmas-ers at all. Although I’m sure my Jewish friends appreciate all the efforts to make Hanukkah JUST LIKE CHRISTMAS but with lamps and eight days and Adam Sandler, they still don’t have a charade to keep up. They just light the menorah and hand over the goods. And don’t even get my Hindu and Buddhist friends started. Or you can. Because maybe you DO have to keep up. Who wants to be the parent of the kid who destroys the mystery of the red guy handing off gifts in 1/1000th of a second? Do you encourage you children to play along or do you lie to your kids that the Christian’s get Santa and you get Shiva who seems pretty cool too?
So I ask my fellow liars and truth-ers: What do you do about Santa Claus?
The answer that will make me a hero. Kristin writes: We kept it up for our first until he was at least 10? but last year when our youngest were 7 and 9 we told them AFTER they had finished opening their gifts. We were heroes for a month. AND now, there really IS a Sant Clause watching them and they KNOW it so they actually liste much better. It just seems easier this way AND it’s still a LOT of fun. I find no difference after telling them at all. But we still do th Santa things just like my Mom did even when we were all in our twenties…
The answer from a bunch of people who apparently think too much but won’t write anything down. Mandy translates:
So…at the water cooler (figuratively speaking) yesterday, this post was a topic of conversation. Partly because the Santa Issue had coincidentally (?) also become a hot topic on my moms forum and partly because I was curious as to what people who spend their lives working with and learning about childhood development would say.
Since they’re not a bloggy crowd (sad), I thought I’d leave a comment with the gist of the conversation.
Apparently, Santa Clause is the perfect analogy for the trajectory of belief development.
1. Concrete belief. A child is told Santa is a man in a red suit who gives toys to all the boys and girls. This gives them a concrete example to explain the spirit of giving and generosity that accompanies the holidays. In non-Santa talk, this is why when you ask a child what love is, they’ll say something adorable like, “Giving someone half of your cupcake.”
2. Cynicism. At this stage of development, a child starts to understand that there is no logical way that a fat man in a red suit can, for instance, literally go down a chimney or deliver toys to everyone in the world in one night. They go through a period of “seeing is believing”.
3. Belief in the abstract. At this point in a person’s life, they once again believe in Santa, understanding in an abstract way that he is a manifestation of the spirit of giving and generosity.
Each of these stages can vary in length. Part of the reason that they thought some children were traumatized by the discovery is that they were not yet ready to transition on their own to the next stage with that particular belief.
As for the truth and lie thing…apparently children don’t understand truth and lie the way that adults do. It’s not a black and white issue to them, but rather various shades of gray.
Which spun the next topic of conversation around why it’s so hard to teach young children about lying because even when they lie, they think it’s truth just because they believe it to be.
I’m sure I didn’t do justice to the whole conversation. I wish I would have had my laptop to take minutes — especially when my boss started talking in his very excited professor voice.
I love my job. lol