“Santa’s not coming to our house,” my daughter says emphatically. “He won’t come here.”
Miya has been very insistent that Santa should not come here. Strange scary man in red, with a beard so bushy it hides his face, breaking into our house in the middle of the night. The potential of gifts in a stocking does not offset the unease with a big stranger in the house.
“That’s okay,” I tell her. “Santa doesn’t need to come here.” She is relieved, but the next time she hears Santa mentioned she will remind me that he is not to come here. When she saw Santa recently at a Christmas party, she wanted nothing to do with him. I didn’t force the issue.
At this time of year, there may be many parents out there wondering how much longer they should keep up the Santa myth with their child. And likely there are a good number of kids who know that Santa isn’t real, but play along with their parents out of loyalty or perhaps out of fear that admitting they know there is no Santa will mean the presents will go away.
But I’ve been wondering about if and how I should tell Miya about Santa. I’m all for childhood stories and fantasies. I purposefully tell her magical stories and anthropomorphize nature. We have conversations with her stuffed animals, wake up the Christmas tree each morning, and look for elves in the trees. This is all part of the wonder of an imaginative childhood – although our little realist is forever challenging me with, “but that’s not a real thing, Mommy.”
So is Santa part of the magic of childhood and of Christmas, or is he a big fat lie we tell our children, setting them up for the disappointment and disillusionment that is bound to follow when the discover the truth?
Should I be stringing Miya along, convincing her that a ‘ripe jolly old elf’ will fly through the sky on Christmas eve, slide down our natural gas ‘chimney’ (an opening so small that not even a bat can fit through any more), deposit present and eat our cookies? Is this what good parents do?