Children are the world’s best dreamers and believers. That’s why it is heartbreaking to see that moment when your child begins to outgrow the magic and begins to suspect Santa Claus may not be real. And we hate the idea that we need to let the cat out of the bag at some point.
But one parent offers what we think is probably the best way to break the news to your child: tell him he’s now transitioning from receiving gifts from Santa to becoming Santa. “This way, the Santa construct is not a lie that gets discovered, but an unfolding series of good deeds and Christmas spirit.”
The tip, simple yet so meaningful, has been shared in a now viral Facebook post by Christy Hutchison, who came across it online. The writer even provides how you can start the conversation.
Pick a time and spot where you and your child can talk. It can be over merienda, at a park or anywhere else where it's just the two of you. Then, the writer says to open the chat with something like, “You sure have grown an awful lot this year. Not only are you taller, but I can see that your heart has grown, too.” Proceed to tell your child examples of the times she’s been kind, empathetic or considerate towards other people.
Afterwards, reveal the secret: Santa is not just one person. “Some of your friends might have even told you that there is no Santa. A lot of children think that, because they aren't ready to BE a Santa yet, but YOU ARE.” Lead the conversation to the benefits of being Santa, and good feelings he gets to do something for someone else.
To let your child feel he can become Santa, the writer suggests, “We then have the child choose someone they know—a neighbor, usually. The child's mission is to secretly, deviously, find out something that the person needs, and then provide it, wrap it, deliver it —and never reveal to the target where it came from. Being a Santa isn't about getting credit, you see. It's unselfish giving.”
The writer's oldest child chose a rather grumpy lady who lives nearby for his first Santa mission. Upon spotting that the lady would go out in the chilly mornings barefoot to get the newspaper, he decided to gift her a pair of comfy slippers. He wrapped up his present, attached a tag saying the present was from Santa and placed the package on her driveway.
“The next morning, we watched her waddle out to get the paper, pick up the present, and go inside. My son was all excited, and couldn't wait to see what would happen next. The next morning, as we drove off, there she was, out getting her paper—wearing the slippers. He was ecstatic.”
Rather than being one magical being, this parent's post shows the real Santa: anyone who finds joy in the happiness of others. It is the loving, unselfish, jolly (and even mysterious) spirit in all of us. And the beauty of it the magic of Santa is rooted in the real world, and passed on from generation to another. It’s every bit as wondrous and enchanting, don’t you think?
But, of course, before spilling the beans however gentle the approach might be, make sure your child is ready and old enough to handle it. Michele S. Alignay, registered psychologist, counselor, resource speaker, author and mom of two school-aged kids, told Smart Parenting this is usually around late childhood, “when the kids have reached the age of wonder turning into concrete knowledge.”
Josefina Quintos Era, educator, child and family specialist, and mom of two, agrees. “Children in that age group concretize everything around them. They look for answers, and so they understand things better, too,” she adds.
Hope this makes things easier for you! Happy holidays!
This story originally appeared on Smartparenting.com.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.