This is the first year that my little boy ‘gets’ Christmas, if you know what I mean. It’s the first year he’s old enough to get excited (as in hopping up and down like he’s consumed a bag of sugar) every time he catches a glimpse of any picture of Santa Claus. For the first year ever, he was able to tell us precisely what he wants from the Big Man and he also understands the concept of keeping himself on the ‘Nice’ list, whenever possible.
But having him around this year has meant so much more in our household – his excitement is infectious and it has really caused the rest of the family to revisit their inner child and reminisce on Christmas’ past. Which is why we’re going to thoroughly enjoy being busy on Christmas Eve, leaving a scattering of crumbs where once were Santa Claus’ carefully laid out biccies. Even the dog will be busy, demolishing half a carrot to leave authentic “Rudolph-looking’ teethmarks for himself to exclaim over the next morning.
Seeing as he’s only two years old, you can imagine how dismayed I was to be told by someone recently that I should ‘make the most’ of his festive exuberance, as there’ll probably only be another three of four years before he comes to the conclusion that there’s ‘no such thing as Santa’. I was gutted – until I asked around and heard that it’s not uncommon for children as young as five or six to express their doubts about the existence of the jolly fellow who comes down your chimney on Christmas Eve.
And once that nagging disbelief sets in, there’s no going back. After all, would you underestimate a child’s capacity for disbelief when it comes to any other fib you might tell them? That skepticism sets in just as soon as they start questioning how a man that fit can fit down the chimney in the first place, or expressing doubts about the evles’ technical abilities when it comes to putting a Nintendo DS together.
Of course, the ruse that disbelief will result in no pressies on Christmas morning might work for a little while. I can remember, despite having reached the conclusion that the presents were actually bought by my parents, opting to ‘pretend to believe’ in Santa Claus for another year or two. I just didn’t want the magic to end.
Some psychiatrists will tell you that the Father Christmas legend is good for children’s moral development and gives parents an “ace up their sleeve” in the form of the naughty or nice list. Others, believe it or not, reckon we shouldn’t perpetuate the myth, since lying to kids creates mistrust and, ultimately, a deep sense of hurt when they realise the truth. Good God, in this day and age, I think kids need to buy into a little fantasy more than ever. I know I’d give my right arm to be a ‘believer’ still.
But as that famous, albeit anonymous, quote goes: ‘There are three stages of a man’s life: He believes in Santa Claus, he doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, he is Santa Claus’.
Whatever you believe, have a good one!