Recently our oldest daughter asked, “Is Daddy Santa?” She had figured it out, thanks to reading the “Sisters” series written by Raina Telgemeier. Her reaction was priceless. Her facial expression was like a person walking into their surprise party. She laughed at the thought of how funny it was to think that Santa was real. Throughout the day she chuckled over how her Dad and I played pretend. I could clearly see this was a tradition she enjoyed. We discussed the symbolic meaning of creativity and imagination.
I’ll bet most would say this fantasy character played a positive role in their childhood. During my research for this article I discovered some parent’s concerns about the lie they’re telling. Some people still hold grudges thirty years later. Some have gone to the extreme of no longer believing in God. I was appalled by the arguments that took place in the comments of certain blog articles.
It is my belief that imaginary cartoons, super-hero action figures, barbies and princess’ provide a symbolic meaning of hope, allowing us to believe in our dreams and face our biggest fears. Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Leprechauns, and the Tooth Fairy all provide us with a valuable lesson in the spirit of giving. These traditions are fun and build a foundation of not taking things so seriously. These fantasy characters help children “cross-over” during a milestone.
Perhaps it is in the way we explain our “lie” to our child when the truth is discovered. A surprise represents the spirit of giving and participating in the joy of “an unexpected event, fact or thing.” A secret represents “something meant to be kept hidden or unseen by others.” I have effectively communicated to my children that surprises are fun and encouraged but secrets are bad. If anyone tells my child to keep a secret and “not tell anyone” this is unacceptable. My children understand this is wrong and should tell a responsible adult immediately.
Santa Claus is a tradition my family chooses to participate in. Therefore, we take the responsibility to prepare our children for the unexpected surprise. Below is a letter I found on Pinterest and shared with my daughter. I felt it explained the fun of our surprise and the meaning of why we participate in this tradition.
When you asked about Santa, you asked a good question. We know that you want to know the answer, and we had to give careful thought to what to say. The answer is no. We are not Santa. There is no Santa.
We are the people who fill your stocking because we choose to. Just as our parents did for us and we do for you.
Santa is lots of people who keep the spirit alive. He lives in our hearts. Santa is the magic, love and spirit of giving to others. What he does teach children is to believe something they can’t see or touch. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe in yourself, your family, your friends and in God.
Love, Mom and Dad
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