One afternoon last week I went to grab my kids from a neighbor’s house and my awesome neighbor pulled me aside and told me my oldest son was telling her son that Santa was dead. Not my proudest moment. Sigh…
The Back Story
Last year, my post regarding how our family handles Santa
was published in a magazine
and my site got more hits than it ever had. I was so happy we had figured out a way to handle the whole Santa thing without our kids turning out to be “that kid”. and I wanted to share what we did. Well, turns out my seven year old was “that kid” now. If you go back and read my post
you will see that we most certainly do not tell our children that Santa is dead, but if you knew my seven year old you would know exactly how he came to that conclusion.
My seven year old is just like his daddy: extremely logical and analytical. He has very little imagination and almost no creativity. He is extremely concrete and likes things to be just so. He is a math genius, has an awesome sense of direction, and can assemble and build amazing creations with no directions. He is the opposite of his mama. We have always told our children the story of Saint Nicholas. We tell them he was a man that loved Jesus and gave to others as a result. so each Christmas when we see his face we are reminded to give to others at Christmas time. They know the story of the dowry and the stockings, so they know that people hang stockings and they are filled with goodies in remembrance of that event. We also watch and enjoy Christmas classics like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and other Santa based shows, just as we watch any other fun family shows like Toy Story. We don’t ever have serious conversations about them afterwards, anymore than we have conversations about whether or not Buzz Lightyear is a real Space Ranger.
So that evening I sat down with my seven year old and included his five and a half year old brother as he was present for the conversation at the neighbors and asked them what happened. My oldest told me that his friend kept insisting that Santa was real. I told him that Santa is real. To which he replied, “No mom he was real, now he is dead!” Didn’t I tell you he is a realist? My second son is much more like his mama. He is a dreamer with an impressive vocabulary and has probably ten times the dose of creativity that I have. He says: ” Right, but his spirit is still here at Christmas reminding us what Jesus wants for his birthday.” I was impressed. what am I here for if my five year old gets it? Then my oldest says with arrogance in his voice: “Maybe, but he is still dead.” I couldn’t help but laugh. I knew he was not going to relent so I agreed with him. “Yes honey, you are correct Saint Nicholas the man is dead, but lots of people still like to celebrate him today and remember his kindness by giving to others. Some parents like to pretend to be him and give their kids gifts and let them be surprised and we need to respect that. So you are not allowed to tell children that Santa is dead because that is not kind to the children who still like to be surprised. Do you understand?” To which, he agreed and then asked if we were done talking. And so far this week we have been without any dead Santa incidences.
Parenting is always evolving, as my children get older I have realized that my parenting style and conversations need to change. It goes beyond Santa. My children’s curiosity changes and their ability to observe and understand more increases. As parents we need to be open to changing our stance and continue conversations that we thought were done.
Christmas is full force in our house right now. The advent wreath is sitting on the table and our Jesse tree is in the works. This year my seven year old has asked to read some of our daily verses from his own Bible, which has been so much fun. This year since we live in Idaho we took a family trip up into the mountains and national forest to cut down our Christmas tree. Afterward my husband and I decided that moving forward this would be a special trip reserved only for children over the age of 6. Trekking through a foot of snow up a mountain with a three year old was less than fun. Don’t be afraid to adjust family traditions and add new ones as your kids get older. Honor and respect your child as they grow it will make them feel great as they get older and get more privileges and it will give the younger ones something to look forward to.
My oldest in a rare quiet moment in front of the Christmas tree.