Do your children believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Elf of a Shelf or the Leprechaun? I still remember when I did. It was magical. For some reason, the only one I believed in was the tooth fairy. I think it is because I could always tell that my mom wrote in Santa’s name on the gifts and it usually wasn’t what I had asked for.
The tooth fairy though, she was the real deal. She came in at night, took the tooth, and always left money. Until I realized she wasn’t. It wasn’t from my parents, but friends that I learned. I felt duped. I knew my mom did it because she loved me and wanted me to believe like all my other friends did—but then I also wondered what else my mom didn’t tell me about.
With my own son, I wanted to be the one to tell him. I knew that one day he would also wonder why I made it all up. What was the point? While it was definitely fun and entertaining for me, I also did it to keep the magic of childhood alive for him. It’s a time to believe is something beyond his reach. Something he can’t see or touch and something that will allow for his imaginations to run wild. I remember the constant questions of: What cookie does Santa eat first? How did Elf on a Shelf get stuck up there? Do you think we should make the leprechaun trap with glue or tape? What is the tooth fairies name?
In order to keep the magic alive, my husband and I turned to online resources. We “tracked” Santa and his whereabouts with Google’s Santa Tracker, we sprinkled Reindeer food in our neighborhood, and we used Elf on a Shelf to make sure he made right choices. When he wrote a letter asking the tooth fairy what her name was, we looked up the Tooth Fairies name with the Tooth Fairy Name Generator. We changed our handwriting by writing with our non-dominant hand. In the end, the one thing I can say, is that my husband and I definitely felt like professional con-artists.
When my son turned seven, he started to ask me questions about things that could not be explained with logic or online resources for that matter. He first asked, “How did I give you lavender lotion when I was in your belly?” This question came from a time when I was pregnant and his sister and had given him a “gift” to ease him into being a big brother and having to share his parents. He received a spiderman toy from his “sister” and it worked! He was ecstatic and couldn’t wait for her to arrive! A couple months later he asked me… “So mom, What did I give you when I was in your belly?” So, because I was still trying to keep the “magic” alive I responded by saying lavender lotion because he how much I enjoyed putting it on before I went to sleep.
The day he asked me about the lavender lotion and how it got miraculously appeared in my room, I decided to come clean. He was seven and I felt like it was time. It was developmentally-appropriate, because cognitively he was starting to make sense of the world using logic. Also, many of his friends already stopped believing, so it was only a matter of time until he found out.
I had read a great article a couple months back about how to keep the magic alive. It was a letter to children from their parents. It stated how parents were part of Santa’s team and now… so was he. So we talked about what Santa stands for, a Saint who was giving in nature. How he teaches people about the differences between right and wrong. I explained our important role as Santa’s helpers. We were the eyes and ears for Santa on the ground. It was similar to the belief our family has in God. While we can’t see him, we believe that he exists.
He was devastated when he heard, he had so many questions about the tracker, elf on a shelf, and the tooth fairy letters. At first there was confusion. Then, there was sadness, as he fought back the tears. He also showed anger, with words like “What if I told you there was no God?” I explained to him that he could still believe in the magic but that I needed to give him all the facts. There are many people that still do believe in Santa, even after they know all the facts. After awhile, he did understand and was thankful that I told him. He would have rather heard it from me than a friend.
This Christmas, he stepped up and was definitely a crucial part of Santa’s team. He was also a believer. He decided to track Santa on his own on Christmas Eve. He also wrote him a letter. He confessed in the letter that he had heard that Santa was not real, but that he was still a believer. Believing in something greater than himself is important. He will have to believe in himself, his capabilities, and skills, in order to achieve in ways that he may never have imagined for himself. Today, more than ever, in our uncertain world, he will have to believe that a peaceful world can exist.