Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hearing the Bells

When my children were babies I weighed the pros and cons of various Santa traditions.  My husband & I decided our family's observance of Christmas and Advent had room for both Jesus and Santa. Jesus is supreme day in and day out, for eternity, while the man in the red suit makes for fun memories of anticipation and generosity in the latter part of December. 

Over the years we have had some explaining to do in regards to why Santa only brings three gifts to each child in our home on Christmas morning while some friends, classmates and neighbors get more than three. We've indicated that there is a partnership between Santa & parents, explaining parents play an important role in Santa's choices--price range, number, whether or not a gift is appropriate/allowed, etc. 

Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing and our involvement with a local children's home also required us to address the economics of funding Santa Claus' gift giving. ("Why are WE getting this? Why don't they just ask Santa Claus?") We've explained that some parents are unable to pay for gifts which allows the rest of the community the opportunity to rally around and 'elf,' helping make Christmas happen. 

I have realized how much this summarizes the most beautiful message of Santa Claus: Giving without concern for getting credit. It is the most precious part of the secular Christmas season.

Being my children's trustworthy source of information as they figure out this world is a priority to me. I have sought to honestly answer the questions we are asked while still preserving the mystery and fun of the observance. The wonder of childhood is a gift.

This year, to borrow a term from Polar Express, the sound of the bells has started to fade...but not for my entire trio. While one is all in, one seems quietly suspicious and the third is in full investigative mode. With precocious 10 and a half year olds, the questions have grown more mature, probing and specific. 

Last week my P and I were alone in the car when he started grilling me. He saw some inconsistencies in various explanations and asked me to explain the inner workings of the parent/Santa connection. "I mean, do you Skype with him or text or what?!?"

I reminded him that he could trust me to tell the truth. I told him I would answer all his questions, but wanted him to make sure he was ready for it. I explained that Christmas is different when the wonder is gone and you understand all the inner workings.

Ever thoughtful and circumspect, he exhaled a sigh of an old soul and said, "Mom, based on how you are answering these questions, I think I see where this is headed. But just in case, can I wait two more years and ask you to explain everything when I am twelve?"

I grinned wide and agreed to his request and he hasn't mentioned it since.

It's the most WONDER-ful time of the year!


Jeannie said...

I love the way you handled his questions and love his response even more! Enjoy the magic while you can!

Cheryl said...

That is the best story ever....what a smart guy you have there!!!! Have a Merry Christmas!!!!

Melissa said...

I love how you answered the questions and have incorporated Santa through the years. I had to answer the exact same question in regards to OCC a few years ago and was pleased to see someone else answered in a similar way.
At the heart of Santa is the story of a wonderful, generous man and I don't think it hurts our children one bit to believe in his brand of magic. Letting him sprinkle joy for one day does not lessen the attention and glory we give The Lord on all 365 days.
Like you, I will hold onto the childlike wonder as long as we can. Merry Christmas!

dee said...

This brought tears to my eyes, so sweet. And, the look on his face in that third picture is priceless!

Keri said...

Oh my goodness, P's response! It brought tears to my eyes, too, and I must admit that I was kind of relieved that he chose not to hear the full disclosure quite yet.

Every single year, I look at the pictures of your kids with "your" Santa and marvel and what a wonderfully authentic Santa he is. I truly believe that I've never seen a more true-to-life Santa Claus, even in movies. He's a gem, and you all are so lucky that he's near enough to visit every year!

Aja said...

Precious pictures! We handle Christmas and Santa very similarly in our family. I refuse to outright lie to my children's direct questions much as you discussed above. Luckily, at 4 and 5, my boys are still very easily to redirect. This year however, my oldest asked for video games and we had to explain that Santa knows the rules of each house him and won't bring a present they parents don't approve of. It is so nice to get a glimpse into how other families handle Santa and Christmas. Best wishes for a magical Christmas and a joyous celebration of our Savior's birth!

Tamar SB said...

I'm a total lurker but love your parenting style. The honesty and intent you have in how you discuss topics is wonderful. And P's response is amazing!

HW said...

P's response is not only precious; it is very wise. At such a young age, he already knows to hold on to childhood as long as he can.

Our children are 20 and 23 and both home for Christmas this year!! Just yesterday they were discussing all the things we did to keep Santa "alive" for them over the years and it made every late night and desperate toy hung worth it.
I agree with you - Santa is one of the first lessons our children receive in "giving without getting." Enjoy your wonderful family these next few weeks. You are in a magical phase of life!

Nichole said...

I've been reading for years...honestly I'm not even sure how I first came across your blog, but I so appreciate your perspective. I am a few years behind you with a 5.5 year old, 3.5 year old and a brand new 3 day old baby so sometimes seeing where I'm headed is helpful. I love your explanation of the Santa/parent connection. I know those questions are coming and I love how you have chosen to answer them truthfully without eliminating the magic of childhood. Thanks so much for sharing.

Lauren and Eddie said...

I. love. this! I have a five year old who is wise beyond his years and while he's nowhere near the stage that yours are, he asks some TOUGH questions about Santa that have thrown me for a loop. I know he isn't trying to get me to tell him the inner workings, he's just curious, but I am anxious about when that time comes.