You’d better watch out, you’d better not cry, but do your kids really know why? Jolly Old St. Nicholas is coming, and as parents it’s up to you to decide what your child knows about one of the most important gift givers in their lives! Kris Kringle’s complexity changes as your children get older, and knowing how to answer questions about the man himself will help you, parents, from being caught off guard when your knowledge of reindeer and elves is put to the test.
Chances are your kids already know he travels around the world one night a year, giving out presents to good boys and girls. They also probably know of his affinity for spending time in shopping malls in the weeks leading up to December 25th. And of course they can appreciate the man’s sweet tooth – who doesn’t love cookies and milk after a long trip down a chimney? But these hard core truths about the man are going to lead to questions as your kids get older, and there’s a few different avenues that you can take to address their curiosities.
A lot of articles we read said that most parents stick with the obscure answers, like magic or time travel or complex yoga (when asked about chimneys and physics), and these usually lead to more and more questions every year. While going this path may lead to the “creative answers tight-rope game”, it shows that your children are thinking about the situation and piecing together the feasibility of it all. Research shows that as children begin to really think how Santa Claus does his amazing ride, they begin to figure things out on their own and eventually understand the true nature of Father Christmas.
When children ask about him, you can also side-step by talking about what he stands for, getting them into the Santa spirit! Teaching children about giving, and the joy it brings, shows a fundamental aspect of the holiday season. Many parents help their children become “Secret Santas” for friends and teachers by helping them pick out gifts and wrapping them, while others even help children pick out toys to donate to charities. Throughout these adventures, reminding children how they are just like Santa begins to get the gears turning of what Santa Claus really means this time of year.
Of course there’s always the direct approach, and for that it’s up to parents to decide when and what they should tell a child. This blog does not seek to tamper with anyone’s holiday magic (note the descriptive ambiguity throughout the last few paragraphs), so we’re just going to use this as a jumping board to say that the truth about Santa, the actual honest truth, is that giving is just as wonderful as receiving, and being good (even just for the sake of being good) is important in December as much as it is the other 11 months of the year. Santa Claus is a part of many family’s holiday festivities, and whether family members are about to start Kindergarten or are too old to remember college, it’s important to remember the jolly old man with the rosy red cheeks and a tummy that shakes like a bowl full of jelly
We think Santa would agree.
[Photo courtesy of John Minchillo, AP]