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How do YOU tell kids the truth about Santa?
They actually had never come to ask us Is Santa real? It is us who started the topic when they were almost 10. Our twins are now grown-up University students. I have asked them while writing this how they felt then and they both said, apart of each other: “Surprise. Not disappointment. Only surprise. It was OK.”
Here it is in detail how we've solved the problem many years before, without breaking down the magic or even worse, shocking them. It proved to be a smooth bridgeover into the being a big child.
They were lucky enough to have nice primary school colleagues: They were already 10 and nobody had told them about Santa! It helped also the fact that any twin parent knows: they were self-sufficient and happy with each other, not needing friends from the outside world. So they barely had friends.
About 10 we thought it would be better to have control about how they find it out: Not that some nice smart a** out there comes with the word “lie” attached to us. We had succeeded so far in our purpose not to lie at them no matter what, and we wanted to keep it that way. We didn’t want to break their confidence in us.
We set up a small evening to speak about Santa with our twins a few weeks after Christmas. The discussion started like “You are already big enough, Santa doesn’t come anymore to such big kids…”
Our daughter stood up, came to hug us and said “Why, maybe he would still come, Mom, we are so well-behaved kids!” An almost ten years old child saying that…
Uh-oh, it’s not what you think, we thought. And seeing that much innocence, we stalled as of whether to tell them the whole truth.
I say the “whole truth” because we had geared all our previous talks about Santa (in Romania called Father Christmas” around this idea I am describing you here.
Children do see Santas scattered all over the place in Santa’s season, and well ahead of his due time. They don’t get it, how is that possible. It’s somehow obvious even to them that these are not real Santas.
By giving in and accepting a bit of the lie, you save the Santa fairy tale. And by seeing a drunken “Santa” as I have seen (it was disgusting), you can make this work as an argument on your side. Like “They are men, do you think real Santa would get drunk?”
Accepting that there are also fake Santas around saves the magic for a longer time and saves you some troubles. It lays a foundation for the future, too.
This is also a good step, because it puts them into the same boat with us without them knowing it. And it also allows them experience and understand already now our feelings and reasons in doing the same with them.
So that, in that big evening when we decided to talk with our kids, we said like
(And do listen what their answer is. It might be of big help ten minutes later.)
If Santa needs only a minute for each of them, just calculate! (You may really have them calculate, if they are old enough and you feel it appropriate. It might scatter a bit of the seriousness of the moment.)
(This is an important question. It shifts them into your shoes. Makes them think, become empathetic – and possibly understand you.)
Gearing our future answer to question bound to come “Does Santa exist?”, in the years before this discussion we had answers like:
Is it true that Santa lives in Finland? Oh, no, Santa from Finland is just another human. Like those Santas on the streets, he´s only there to make little kids happy [and make a living out of something he likes to do]. Real Santa is usually everywhere, but especially where kids are. (You may ad “, … just like God”, if you want to.)
Where does Santa make the toys? In the factories, along with all the toys made not for Christmas.
Does he buy them? Yes, he does.
Where from does he have the money?
He was very rich, don’t ask me how rich, I don’t know. It seems he still somehow affords to buy so many toys…
(See how beautifully you don’t really lie, while setting the scene for the future?)
If Santa is Uncle Ioan and the kids do notice his beard is fake, don’t give much attention to the incident. Ours had noticed and talked about this, but did not ask us. If they did, we would have said something like I think this Santa was actually a man, maybe because real Santa could not come in person. He sent somebody instead of him, it's very much possible he was Uncle Ioan indeed.
Or just say plainly an “I don’t know what to tell you”… The child would understand it as you don’t know it , while you actually know but you really don’t know how to tell him that.
This way to answer the question Is Santa real? worked out great. Everything run smoothly. I think that this happened because of a continuos blending of the truth with the beautiful Santa fairy-tale.
Oh... One more thought. They had once asked us Is the Easter Bunny acquainted with Father Christmas? They answered it right away by themselves: He actually should, they have the same occupation…! In this important talk about Santa...
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