Now I am fully aware that this can be a controversial subject so let me begin by saying that what you are about to read are the thoughts and opinions of a young christian mother who is just trying to make sense of it all and I understand that your opinions may differ from mine and that's okay. But can we all just agree that the spirit of St Nick is actually not a bad thing? The more that I have thought about this over the past week the more I have come to realize that Santa sure does have a lot in common with Jesus himself and maybe, just maybe, my kids can further their relationship with God through the spirit of Santa Claus?? But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning of my journey with the good old Saint Nick.
So I am one of those moms that allows the fantasy of Santa to be alive and well in my home. I am under the belief that kids are only kids once and being able to use the imagination that God gave them is one of their best assets (quiet frankly I think adults could learn a lot from children).
When our first Christmas as parents rolled around, my husband and I talked about what would we do with the whole Santa thing and we concluded that because we were both raised in Christian homes that believed in Santa Claus and neither of us were traumatized, it was probably an okay tradition to continue on with our own children. In fact I have very fond childhood memories of the magic and excitement of Christmas morning and I just couldn't fathom the thought of taking that away from my children. So yes, we decided that the belief in Santa Claus would be welcomed in our home! We did agree on one thing though...the moment that our kids asked us if Santa was real we would tell them the truth.
Well that moment came way sooner then I could have ever thought or been prepared for because just last week, with tears streaming down my six year old's face she begged me to tell her the truth about Santa....Now Peyton, our oldest child, is just naturally a very imaginative little girl. She spends her days in a dream-like state that often can be frustrating to try to pull her out from. She is one of those kids that believes her stuffed animals come alive at night, and that fairies exist in the grass outside our apartment, she wants nothing more than to see a unicorn and wishes on the first star she sees every night. She wants so badly for there to be something more than just her eyes can see, she wants to believe in something bigger than herself and well...I can't say that I blame her for that...don't we all? So that night when she told me that she felt like she didn't fit in with her friends at school because they don't believe in Santa Claus and..."Mom I feel like I am believing for nothing"...I knew what I had to do and I knew that it would not be easy...and it wasn't easy. What happened next was a heart wrenching night as I watched my little girl's imaginative world, that she held so dear, crumble around her.
She grew up that night...before my very eyes she grew up...and I didn't like it
...not one bit!
But because of God's grace over me as a parent that night I think that what could have been very traumatizing has actually turned into something wonderful.
Here is what Peyton and I have been discussing and processing together this week:
* We have been reading and learning a lot about the real Saint Nicholas and if you have never done this I highly recommend it. I think this has really helped Peyton to know that a person with the same gentle, kind and giving nature towards children actually did exist and she understands that we still celebrate that Saint Nicholas today in the form of Santa Claus and that we can carry on his giving spirit by being Santa to others.
* The biggest thing that has come out of all of this for Peyton is the realization that there is someone bigger than Santa who is REAL and that is God! He in fact created Saint Nicholas and if he created a person as cool as that how much cooler is God? I have seen my child grow leaps and bounds in her faith this week. She has channeled the desire to want to believe in something bigger than herself and has put her full faith and trust in God! She goes to bed reading her Bible and I wake up every morning to the sight of her sitting at the breakfast table with her Bible open next to her cereal bowl (this kid has literally read most of the new Testament and even some books in the Old Testament in just one short week). This week she told her non-Christian friends at school about the God she believes in and has done her best to show His love to them through her actions. What I have witnessed in my little girl has been convicting, challenging and heart warming all at the same time, and I have found myself following her lead to love others this week just like Christ loves us.
* Lastly, the thing we have discussed and decided upon is that it is still okay to pretend. For the first couple nights after the Santa talk she would come to me, still a little tearful and say, "I wish I never asked you to tell me because it was more fun to believe." So I told her God made her the way she is for a reason and if it brings her joy to make believe that Santa is still real then she should go for it (because after all Mommy still does :)) And so what did we do this week? We watched my all time favorite Christmas movie together, "Miracle on 34th Street," and reminisced about the magic and wonder of the movie and how we both wished we could be Susan.
So the question I have been asked this week (more times than I can count) is, would I do it differently or will I do it differently with my two younger children and my answer is...no! Again, this is just my opinion and I am fully aware that I could be wrong, but I still believe preserving a child's imagination is so very important. I feel it is a child's right to dream and to dream big and I am not going to be the one to stifle that. I often wonder if kids who grow up in homes that tell them from the get go that Santa isn't real if they secretly believe it anyway? Just because that is what kids do...they believe! I also know that every child is different and that perhaps Peyton is a more sensitive case than my other children will be. (I can totally see Amber being proud of herself for figuring out on her own that Santa isn't real.) They are just different kids and when the time comes I am sure I will need to have the wisdom to handle each child in their own right.
As hard as it was to watch my child's innocent world crumble around her that night, I don't regret being there to walk her through it, because the truth is this is not the last time my kid is going to go through heart ache. The world is full of it!
At least now she knows it's going to be okay. She is going to make it through and she can trust that her mom will be there every step of the way.