Utah & Ani got to visit Santa this weekend. One of my best friends held some “Santa Sessions” with photos, cookies & milk and story time. It was so sweet. Actual professional photos coming soon.
Utah was so excited to pick out his own "fancy" outfit. He's always been a lover of bow ties. I'm loving the multiple prints. Ha!
"Santa Is Not Real, Mama"
As we finished up with Santa and pulled out of the parking lot, Utah matter-of-factly said,
"I know Santa's not real, Mama. There's no way he could fly to that many houses in one night. And I just told Santa that Mekhi runs faster than I do and I asked Santa if he knew Mekhi, to kinda test him...and he said he didn't know him."
So, yea. That huge bomb just happened.
Damn Santa and his not-knowing-Mekhi slip up. Haha!
I have a private FB group for women only and coincidentally a woman in there posted about how to break the news to your kiddos about Santa, this past Saturday. Perfect timing...because I needed it the very next day.
"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 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!"
Make sure you maintain the proper conspiratorial tone.
We then have the child choose someone they know--a neighbor, usually. The child's mission is to secretly, deviously, find out something that the person needs, and then provide it, wrap it, deliver it--and never reveal to the target where it came from. Being a Santa isn't about getting credit, you see. It's unselfish giving.
My oldest chose the "witch lady" on the corner. She really was horrible--had a fence around the house and would never let the kids go in and get a stray ball or Frisbee. She'd yell at them to play quieter, etc--a real pill. He noticed when we drove to school that she came out every morning to get her paper in bare feet, so he decided she needed slippers. So then he had to go spy and decide how big her feet were. He hid in the bushes one Saturday, and decided she was a medium. We went to Kmart and bought warm slippers. He wrapped them up, and tagged it "merry Christmas from Santa." After dinner one evening, he slipped down to her house, and slid the package under her driveway gate. The next morning, we watched her waddle out to get the paper, pick up the present, and go inside. My son was all excited, and couldn't wait to see what would happen next. The next morning, as we drove off, there she was, out getting her paper--wearing the slippers. He was ecstatic. I had to remind him that NO ONE could ever know what he did, or he wouldn't be a Santa.
Over the years, he chose a good number of targets, always coming up with a unique present just for them. One year, he polished up his bike, put a new seat on it, and gave it to one of our friend's daughters. These people were and are very poor. We did ask the dad if it was ok. The look on her face, when she saw the bike on the patio with a big bow on it, was almost as good as the look on my son's face.
When it came time for Son #2 to join the ranks, my oldest came along, and helped with the induction speech. They are both excellent gifters, by the way, and never felt that they had been lied to--because they were let in on the Secret of Being a Santa."
What a great way to handle it. Utah adores playing pretend. His dad, Neil, has fostered a wonderful sense of imagination in him. We are hoping that'll keep the spirit of Santa alive in him.
Caught Off Guard
I was so shocked and caught off guard that I blurted out, "Well, I think you're ready to know about the magic of Becoming Santa."
Then, I looked over at Neil for help. We told Utah we needed a minute to talk and moved the music to only play in the back of the car.
We decided to just go for it and explain how we all really become Santa as we get older. He asked where the presents under our tree come from. I asked where he thought they might come from. He thought a bit then said, "from family?" We nodded and said, "Yea, from Mama and Dada!" He thought that was really cool and said "Aww, really?", with a big smile on his face.
Keep the Secret of Becoming Santa To Yourself
We were on our way to have lunch with some friends so I reminded Utah that little ones like Ani, and his friends he was about to see, may not know about Becoming Santa, so he should keep it to himself.
I also reminded him that a lot of his friends at school don't know about Becoming Santa yet. He is not allowed to share this info with them.
We didn't have time in our 5 minute drive to lunch to explain much more, but I am planning on taking him out for some hot cocoa in the next few days. I'll have him choose someone he knows to secretly surprise to officially "Become Santa". I'm really looking forward to that.
Not A Baby Anymore
So, it went as well as it could, in my opinion. He wasn't upset and didn't feel like he was duped or lied to. I think he just appreciated being let in on the real deal.
What's interesting is that he didn't ask about our two elves, "Coco" & his sister, "Meatball". I truly think he just enjoys pretending and the magic of imagination
That's What Makes You Special
My friend Michelle, the Santa Sessions photographer, messaged me this morning with the sweetest information from Santa.
I can't deal with how sweet this is. Just wow.
Cheers to our babies growing up...and to us handling it as well as we possibly can.
Elizabeth aka "Mama"