Traditions for When Santa Stops Being RealDec 19, 2019
Probably one of the most heartbreaking experiences or possibly one of the biggest reliefs, depending on the child, is the moment you tell your child that Santa is not real. I have heard it from many moms and felt it myself, but the moment the Big Guy in the Red Suit is no longer the bringer of magic and gifts, it feels as if,
"Your kids realize you’re a B I G F A T L I E R and nothing will ever be the same!"
The one truth about that is "nothing will ever be the same", and I want you to know Mama, it's going to be ok.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change my kids believing in Santa because there are so many good experiences and memories of them having all that wonder the night before his arrival. The rushing to their stockings to see if he left their favorite treats are truly the most precious of moments I crave for my Facebook page to remind me of in my feed. However, the dilemma it creates for most of us moms' is that after Santa is gone from our children's imaginations there is a void of how to make the season feel just as magical and memorable.
I won't be sharing with you my views on when you should adequately tell your children that the guy who is able to get into their home down a chimney (that you possibly don't have) without a key and has flying reindeer, doesn’t exist. What I am going to offer you are a few ideas on ways that my family has created traditions my kids look forward to each year even without his “Ho, Ho, Ho!” and my ability to lie to loved ones like I'm pretending to create an alliance on Survivor.
When One Knows and the Younger Ones Don’t
If you haven’t clued into this yet your younger kids idolize their older sibling. You are chopped-liver compared to them in their little eyes no matter how often he pulls her hair or steals her toys. They love each other without question and the older sibling will do anything to be the one in charge of whatever the younger one needs. Even tricking them to continuing to believing in Santa even when they don't anymore.
When my oldest one knew but our son didn’t we enlisted her to be the one to get him to set out the cookies & milk for Santa, and gave her the extra special job of being the one to drink the milk, bite one of the cookies, and knaw on a few of the carrots left for the reindeer. She loved this and would be the first one to say, “Look buddy, Santa ate our cookies and the reindeer even enjoyed the carrots!” If you're worried that one will ruin it for the other, just enlist them to be part of your scheme. Honestly, it's what being a family is all about, right?!
Focus on Traditions where they can Claim their Parts
I encourage you to start this before they know Santa is a hoodwink you have pulled over their eyes since their birth, but even if you've already dropped the "Elf on the Shelf really doesn't talk to Santa ever night so go ahead and touch him!" to your kiddos. I believe this can be a great way to help make the disappearance of Santa Clause not so traumatic.
Think about what are traditions you may already do. Traditions where your child, each of them, can claim a part of it as “their job” or “their turn”?
In our house, we do this with my grandmother’s Cut Out Cookie recipe. My daughter claimed the decorating with the colored sugars (because her brother put too much on them) and my son chooses which shape of cookie cutters we use. "They" also decided to take turns each year when choosing our Christmas tree, and ever since there are no arguments from the other on the choice that is made. (Last year we had a tree that was spray-painted neon green. I’m still not sure why, but it was his choice so no one argued.)
Special Days instead of Only 1 Special Day
If you’ve been through this already with at least one child you probably felt the let down of this one special day when the Big Guy was supposed to slide down the chimney and leave all these magical gifts made by elves, but instead, now the magic is gone and the honesty that they were bought by mom & dad leaves no wonderment what-so-ever. If this is the first year for this for you, Mama, pour yourself a glass of eggnog (the good kind, you know what I mean #cheers), because it's probably gonna be rough. The first year of this for me when both of my children knew Santa was a mirage painted by their parents, sucked. That’s the only word I have for it. I sat in a cesspool of #momguilt and comparison as I scrolled through and lived vicariously through other moms with younger children, Facebook posts to bask in the magical wonderment of their Christmas mornings. Just keeping it real, it felt horrible, and I allowed it to feel that way. Punishing myself for the horrible lie I had let them believe and now feeling like I wanted the life we had back before it was out in the open. (I know I am being dramatic but in many cases, this is how it felt for me.) Don't be like me Mama, feeling guilty I had ruined our Christmas by telling my kids the truth literally stole all the joy from my Christmas. So, come out of the pitty-party of Christmas wrapping and do what I decided to do the following year. I could create more than on Special Day for my family so that Christmas morning didn’t feel like this anticipated magical apocalypse.
We added to our Christmas week calendar a Christmas Movie Day in PJs where we each pick a movie either on TV or one we have. We pop popcorn and add a little Christmas twist with melted white chocolate and red sugar sprinkles. We veg in our new pjs all day! This is the day we allow our kids to open their pajama set I have always bought them each year, and even as teenagers they anticipate which day it will be.
Another special day we added is Crazy Grandparent Game Day, which we usually do sometime between Christmas & New Years. We invite all the grandparents over and have mostly finger foods to eat. I try to find the craziest group games like the saran wrap game and the unwrap a gift with oven mitts game that I can on Pinterest and prepare them for that evening. We may play a card game or two but the kids love watching adults squirm and it is literally one of the happiest nights of our year.
Ways to Have them Extend the True Reason for Santa - Giving
For every family, I think this will be different but you will most likely feel like once they know Santa is not real that all the focus turns to receive instead of the belief in giving. There are lots of ways to encourage giving with your kids from volunteering in your faith, finding kids in their school whom they can donate and choose their gifts, to having them think about family members you don’t regularly see during the year.
We’ve done a variety of these things but each year we ask our kids how they want to give or who they want to give to and that has always led us to discover more of their hearts and foster the spirit of giving that Santa, I believe, is meant to impress.
Mama, if this year was the year you got sick of them asking all the questions about how Santa does this, or how Santa does that, or if the elves go on vacation and if they are paid a fair minimum wage?... I hope these four glimpses into how to build a few new traditions over the holiday season give you some ideas for how to keep the magic alive in your home, but most importantly, why you told them Santa was real in the first place. To believe in something without seeing it. Enjoy the holiday’s Mama, you deserve it, and I give you permission to drink some eggnog and not worry about it.
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