Do you have an answer ready for when your kids ask you: “Is Santa real?”? How do you give your children years of magical Christmas Seasons without feeling like you are lying to them?
Turns out that there are many ways of keeping the magic of Santa alive even after when you need to have The Talk. With a little bit of research and preparation, all parents can have an answer ready for their kids.
Your answer has the potential not only to keep your kid’s childlike faith intact, but it could also make the magic of Christmas time bigger than it was before. You can instill in them the joy of giving.
Once your children get to the age that they start questioning the facts of life, you need to be ready to connect the dots between a Saint, a poem, and their Santa Claus.
Santa Claus may not be the big, bearded, jolly man living in with his elves and reindeer in the North Pole, but he was a real person. He was born in what used to be Asia Minor (Turkey). His parents died when he was still very young, and he inherited their wealth. He became a rich man but would not accept a life of luxury in a time when there was so much suffering around him.
Nicholas was a very generous man who always gave to those in need. He is the Patron Saint of Children (among other things) and was known for seeking out the poor and the hungry in order to provide them with food or clothing.
He learned of a man in his community who was very poor and couldn’t afford a dowry for any of his three daughters. Nicholas waited until it was dark and sneaked a purse of gold into the house. He didn’t want anyone to know that he gold was from him. One version of the story says that he dropped it down the chimney, another that he threw it into an open window, where it fell into one of the stockings that the daughters had left to dry by the fireplace.
Stockings…presents coming down the chimney, regardless of what actually happened, there is an explanation for why children today hang stockings up by the chimney for Santa to fill.
In some European countries the bringer of gifts is known as Father Christmas, in others, the he is a child, the Christkind (or Christkindl). In some countries it was Saint Nicholas.
When Dutch Settlers came to the US in the 16th century, somehow their version of Christkind (Kris Kringle) and Saint Nicholas merged, and he became “Sinterklaas” and thereafter: Santa Claus.
According to the records, Santa was born on 15 March 270. That makes him 1748 years old!
Many children start questioning what they are told about Santa as they get older because the facts don’t add up. How can one man make it down millions of chimneys in one single night? If they are old enough to consider Santa’s logistical difficulties, they’re probably old enough to understand that Santa isn’t real in the sense that he is one man who lives in the North Pole, and who gives gifts to everyone in the world.
Most children will have the capacity to understand the concept that Santa lives in the hearts of all the parents and children keeping the spirit of kindness and giving alive.
Saint Nicholas joined the church and became a Bishop. Bishops wear many different colored robes, but it is said that red was his favorite!
A poem written in 1823 is the source of the link between “St Nick” and flying reindeer. It was originally titled “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” but is known today as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”. The poem mentions Christmas Eve, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, a sleigh, Santa as a “jolly old elf”, the red suit, and of course the white beard.
Believing in Santa, the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny is a beautiful and exciting part of existence for children. Some children will figure the truth out for themselves and will be OK. For others, the revelation that Santa isn’t real might break their little hearts, and quickly turn from sadness into a feeling of betrayal.
You can print out information and stories about Saint Nicholas. Get a copy of the “Twas the Night Before Christmas”, and if you’re religious, a copy of the Christmas story. You can add as much “research” as you want to. The idea is to have a big folder or book ready. A very top-secret book that only children who have asked for the truth about Santa, can see.
The Point of Operation Keep Santa Alive is to get them even more excited about Christmas than ever! Not only are they being let in on a secret, but they are about to be given an important responsibility!
Start off with explaining to them, that they are clearly big now, and that means that they get to be let in on a secret. Santa is not a man who lives in the North Pole and flies around the world brings gifts to everyone in the world on the same night. Santa is not one man. Anyone can be a Santa, including them!
Enter the book. You can explain that Saint Nicholas was a real person and tell them about the wonderful things that he did. Emphasize on his kindness, his generosity, and that he gave people who were less privileged gifts without wanting anything in return. The reason you told them about Santa, was because you were keeping his spirit alive. The spirit of giving and kindness.
Hopefully, at this stage, they are on board with the thought form that Santa is someone who gives to those in need. The next step: get them excited about being a Santa. Ask them if they can think of anyone who might need some kindness.
Maybe they have seen someone at school who doesn’t have any warm shoes or a neighbor who always goes around with a plastic carrier bag because they can’t afford a backpack. Once your child has found the right person, help them get the gift to that person without ANYONE knowing. It has to be a secret!
Your child performed a selfless act. They did something kind for someone else without expecting anything in return. Do this with your children every year, and hopefully one day, they will pass the torch of secret, selfless giving on to the next generation.
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