This Mom Found a Creative and Non-Traumatizing Way to Address the ‘Santa Question’ for Kids
The question of whether Santa Claus is “real” or not has haunted parents for nearly as long as the modern interpretation of St. Nick has existed. Many have wondered what age is right to tell their children the truth, some don’t feel comfortable lying to them at all and others fear they’ll crush their child’s holiday spirit.
When faced with that conundrum, Canadian mom Charity Hutchinson was at a loss like many before here. Her nephew, who lives with Hutchinson’s family, point blank told her he knew the truth about Santa Claus. She told Today “At the time, I felt sad, because he seemed disappointed telling me his news. In that moment, I didn’t know what to say to him.”
Hutchinson would find her answer days later, when something on her Facebook feed caught her eye. The post spelled out an ingenious way to ease kids into the truth about Santa Clause, while at the same time maintaining the spirit and magic of Christmas.
The unattributed post begins:
“In our family, we have a special way of transitioning the kids from receiving from Santa, to becoming a Santa. This way, the Santa construct is not a lie that gets discovered, but an unfolding series of good deeds and Christmas spirit.
“When they are 6 or 7, whenever you see that dawning suspicion that Santa may not be a material being, that means the child is ready.
I take them out “for coffee” at the local wherever. We get a booth, order our drinks, and the following pronouncement is made:
“You sure have grown an awful lot this year. Not only are you taller, but I can see that your heart has grown, too. [ Point out 2-3 examples of empathetic behavior, consideration of people’s feelings, good deeds etc, the kid has done in the past year]. In fact, your heart has grown so much that I think you are ready to become a Santa Claus.
“You probably have noticed that most of the Santas (sic) you see are people dressed up like him. Some of your friends might have even told you that there is no Santa. A lot of children think that, because they aren’t ready to BE a Santa yet, but YOU ARE.
“Tell me the best things about Santa. What does Santa get for all of his trouble? [lead the kid from “cookies” to the good feeling of having done something for someone else]. Well, now YOU are ready to do your first job as a Santa!”
From there, the post explains that the unidentified parent helps their children select someone they know who needs some holiday cheer, and anonymously provide it for them, allowing the child to “become” a Santa Claus themselves. According to Hutchinson, she immediately took to the idea.
“It made me feel like I could happily talk to my kids about Santa and allow them to have all that childhood excitement and wonderment, because Santa and becoming a Santa was going to teach them about the joy of giving and and the true meaning of Christmas,” she told the Today show.
Furthermore, she told the show that her nephew loved the idea as well.
“Something amazing happened! His eyes lit right up, and that excitement and joy returned to him, and he couldn’t stop asking me questions. ‘Does everyone know about this? Do my Mom and Dad? Are you a Santa too? Do I go in through their chimney to give them their present? How can I get it to them?'”
Moved by the child’s reaction, Hutchinson decided that she would use the same method on her own children when they grew old enough to begin questioning Santa. She also decided to share the post on Facebook herself, with the added caption “This is by far the best idea I’ve seen about telling your kids about Santa. Had to share.”
As of Friday, her Facebook post received over 8,000 shares. In addition, the post has attracted over 1,000 comments, mostly from supporters and thankful parents.
One person who seemed excited at the post going viral is parenting expert Dr. Deborah Gilbora. She said in the same Today interview that she believes this approach to Santa could be highly beneficial.
“Teaching children that they are part of a larger community, that they can be magic and bring magic into someone else’s life, gives them the best kind of power.” She went on, “Be ready for questions, but the bigger point — that kids can still get while becoming a giver — is not only an excellent solution to a tricky question; it has the added gift of being true.”
Hutchinson explained what makes the story so special.
“We should always go out of our way to look for people to help and bless and make smile, because that’s really what our world needs.”