Christmas time is here once again! It’s the joyous season of gift-giving where images and decorations of Santa Claus are widespread all over the world. If you’re a new parent, you are now faced with a question. How will you introduce the old chubby man wearing red with a gift sack on his back? Will you tell your child the truth or fiction? Here we lay out the pros and cons.
Pro: The Magic of Christmas
From a child’s perspective, the mystery of Santa makes them look forward even more to Christmas. They love reliving those magical moments of sleeping at night on Christmas eve without presents under the Christmas tree and the utmost excitement of waking up with lots of gifts for them under the tree!
I was fortunate enough to experience elaborate Christmas celebrations during my childhood whenever we spent our vacations with our half-cousins in Angeles City. My Uncle (also my godfather) was an American US Air Force working in Clark, Pampanga at the time and we get to experience Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas celebrations the western way. I still remember sleeping under the huge Christmas tree on Christmas eve while waiting if Santa Claus would come. We got excited, too, to wake up on a Christmas morning to open our presents and see our Christmas stockings filled with lots of candies and toys! Those childhood experiences gave us beautiful memories and feelings about Christmas.
Con: The Sense of Disappointment
The feeling of disappointment is inevitable when your child eventually learns that Santa is not real. Some children would not understand why their parents had to lie to them and that may cause some issues later on in life. “Nothing is more sad than the death of an illusion.”, according to Arthur Koestler.
Growing up in a Christian family, my mother had already told us that “Santa Claus” is not real (plus a bunch of other Bible-based statements). Of course, this “killed” the magic of Christmas for us but still, that didn’t stop us from enjoying the Christmas season, with or without Santa. We just love the presents and the feast!
Pro: Sparks Imagination and Creativity
According to Albert Einstein, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” What better occasion to spark creativity other than Christmas time? Imagination stimulates a parent’s creativity in how they can make Santa believable for a child. The effort to set up the whole house to help create a Santa-friendly scene is no joke.
I remember my Uncle’s effort in setting up the backyard with “snow” even though we are living in a tropical country! The funny thing was that the whole neighborhood was doing it, too, because it was a huge subdivision of US Air Force families. It only happens on Christmas day because “Santa brought some snow with him when he was delivering the presents because he wanted the Filipino children to experience it.” I also remember him bringing us to the mall where Santa is just before Christmas day so that we can tell him our wishes.
Con: Stressful and Pocket-Draining
Christmas-themed items are not cheap and even if you can DIY some accessories you would still need to buy some materials for them. To stimulate every minute detail becomes stressful, too, because you have to check that everything is at the right place at the right time. Also, buying all the presents that your child wished for is truly pocket-draining.
Realizing this, I am very much grateful to my Uncle for giving us the memories of a full-blown Christmas season.
Pro: No Need To Keep Up With Santa
Aside from saving money by not purchasing things to create the façade of Santa, it is also not stressful because there is no pressure and obligation to participate in making up stories about Santa.
Aside from the Christmas decorations that we have bought (which we reuse every year), there is no image of Santa that you can see displayed around our home during the Christmas season. We do not have to shell out extra cash just to keep up with the Santa story.
Con: Deprivation of Enjoying the Christmas Season
Some children who grew up without having the thrill of Santa Claus can get envious of the experience of other kids.
Sometimes, I regret denying my children of my own experience of the western way of celebrating Christmas, but still, we made sure that they were not deprived of the happiness and cheer that this season brings. Of course, we never forget the lots and lots of Christmas presents, too. Quoting my son, “Wowa (their grandmother from my hubby’s side) was our Santa Claus!” because she would spoil them with gifts from their Christmas wish lists.
Pro: No Need To Lie To Your Child
Telling the truth saves a lot of time than making up stories and this is an opportunity where your child will learn early on in their life that they can trust you with anything.
There was one time when my children were about 3-5yrs old, they asked in passing if Santa Claus is real after seeing the movie The Polar Express. They can’t remember it now but I certainly recall what I and their father said, “Santa Claus is a character based on a real person, Saint Nicholas, who is a patron saint of the children and sailors…” then we proceeded in explaining the history of Santa Claus and Christmas.
Con: Cause Argument with Other Children
Some children would feel like they have to tell other children the truth about Santa and this might cause some friction that could lead to arguments. Oftentimes, the ones who believe in Santa would be subjected to ridicule from other children their age or older who already knew the truth about Santa.
There was a time when my children told me that some of their schoolmates and friends believed in Santa and I just told them to not ruin their fantasy of Santa. If the idea of Santa makes the other children happy then let them be. It’s the happiest season of all, right?
No matter how you decide to introduce Santa Claus to your kids, what’s important is you have a clear plan on how to eventually close the narrative. Know how to evolve the story through the years and walk them through the lessons that they may pick up along the way. You know your child best. Is your child capable of letting go of Santa when it’s time? Or do you think he/she will appreciate it more if you tell the truth? Tell us in the comment section what works for you and your family!