As a parent of 3 children and a Catholic, I keep the Santa myth alive for my children. In England, I grew up calling him “Father Christmas,” but whatever you call him Santa is a magical figure for children. Kids love to believe in Santa. He’s the bearded guy in the red suit driving a team of reindeer!
My children are 13, 11, and 6. From the time the oldest was less than a year old we have talked about Santa Claus. We tell the children that he is a real person who lives in the North Pole. We have the children write letters to Santa, mailed to Santa Claus, North Pole. We read about Santa. Santa is a part of the fabric of our family folklore around Christmas time.
Once my oldest was about 9, I thought she stopped believing. She asked a few probing questions. I quickly answered by telling her Santa is magic. I was shocked to find that she still believed until early 6th grade. She overhead a few kids talk about Santa in English class. I will continue with the “Santa is a real person for as long as I can get away with it”(!). Later on I will continue with Sanra is magical. I have a 6-year-old and want to keep Santa alive for him.
We keep the Santa myth alive by:
– Telling our children about Santa. He is in the same category as the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.
– Once our children start having doubts we tell them not to “spill the beans” with other children or younger siblings.
– We take our children to see Santa. We took our then 1-year-old to see the Mall Santa. She screamed and I had to sit next to Santa and hold her. She was frightened of all beards.
– We have visited Santa at the Mall, the health club, church, on the Walkersville Railway Xmas Train in Frederick, MD.
– My almost 2-year-old (same child) dragged a chair next to the fireplace to watch for Santa to come down the chimney on Xmas Eve. We always took the child safety locks off the gate on the doors on the fireplace.
– On Xmas Eve when we get home. Our 11-year-old and 6-year-old place oatmeal and glitter in a bag. Both go outside and sprinkle the “reindeer food” on the front path. My husband will often go outside and sweep the front walk so that the kids think the reindeer eat the food.
– While the younger two are spreading reindeer food, my oldest checks NORAD to see where Santa is on his flight plan.
– We leave milk and cookies for Santa. All the cousins decorate cookies at my sister’s house.
– I, occasionally with younger children, will invoke the Santa is watching you speech, but really there is no way I would ever follow through and not give a child her “Santa” presents. Idle threats work once and then have no power over kids.
– I talk about the naughty/nice list, but again it has very little power over kids. Better to stick with whatever punishments the child gets on a regular basis.