Santa is a tradition that is centuries old. Many of us grew up believing in Santa Claus, and have passed on the legend to our own children. For many people, Santa is a tradition that gives Christmas its special magical quality.
At some stage in a child’s life, however, they will get to the point where they begin to realise that there has to be more to the story than they’ve been told. If your child is at that point, how do you let them in on the secret without destroying their trust and joy?
Make It a Rite of Passage
As a child grows, they will come to the place where they question the big man in a red and white suit who rides a sleigh on Christmas Eve, going down chimneys and delivering presents to all boys and girls. This is a sign your child is growing up. Alert your child to this fact, and it may help them adjust to the realisation of the truth about Santa in a positive way. Explain to them that Santa is a game that many children like to play, and that as one grows older, they begin to think about different things.
Explain the Why’s
Be sure to explain to your child why you didn’t force the truth upon them before. Remind them about the many wonderful moments they spent making lists and waiting for Santa. Remind them of the magic that this belief brought to them for so long.
Encourage Them to Continue Believing
When your child is enlightened about Santa, reassure them that the fun doesn’t need to end. Encourage them to continue writing lists and enjoying the Christmas spirit. Some families even continue giving and receiving presents whose labels say “From Santa”, simply as a nod to the warmth of a tradition that they all enjoyed at one point.
Focus on Other Traditions
Santa is not the only Christmas tradition that a family can take part in. There are so many things that become part of the tapestry of Christmas, and it is easy to find other things to focus on. Spend even more time together doing the things you love, such as baking, Christmas shopping, and playing board games. The magic of Christmas needn’t be ruined simply by Santa’s place in it changing.
Encourage Sensitivity to Those Who Still Believe
Once your child learns the truth about Santa, they may feel obligated to broadcast it to the world. Remind your child gently that there are many other children who still believe, and encourage them not to break the joy of the Santa tradition for those others. Talk with your child about things they can say if the subject comes up among other children, so that they are never left in an awkward position.
Santa is a wonderful part of Christmas time. People young and old love to play along with it, and take joy in seeing the smiles that Santa brings to the faces of so many little ones. When the time is right for your child to move on, be prepared so that you can help them preserve the memories as a wonderful experience in their heart forever.