When I first had S, I was determined not to do the whole Father Christmas/Santa is watching and he won’t bring any presents if you’re naughty charade. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I felt I didn’t want to join in with the whole Father Christmas thing at all.
The problem is that as parents we don’t really get to decide on that one; schools, nurseries and random people in the street will all bring Father Christmas into th econversation with your small child from a really young age. To me it began to seem more cruel to not do a Christmas stocking than to just go along with it all.
I didn’t want S to think this big bearded character was bringing presents to all her friends and not to her. And really, it can be fun to visit a grotto or two during the festive season and get into the Christmas spirit.
And so, for her first Christmas I made S a stocking and that’s what we hang out every year. It’s not very big; in fact every year I find that I’ve bought more stocking presents than will fit into it. The contents of the stocking are the only things Father Christmas brings to our house though.
When I was little, we each had a pillowcase with Father Christmas on, which we used as a stocking. As well as this stocking, several of the gifts under the tree were from Father Christmas too.
Looking back, I think most of the presents in my stocking were things like the chocolatey breakfast cereal my parents couldn’t afford the rest of the year, toiletries and sweets – nothing expensive, but presents that were great for filling up a whopping great pillowcase!
What happens when children find out the truth about Father Christmas?
While it’s nice for children to think Father Christmas has brought them lots of lovely things, I still remember that feeling when my sister whispered to me, They’ve been lying all along; I saw Dad creep into my room with my stocking!
I don’t want S to feel like I’ve been lying to her all her life! I don’t want her to look back at all the times Father Christmas has been mentioned and feel bad.
Father Christmas doesn’t take the credit for presents I bought!
I am a self-employed, single parent. I spent a lot of time working. I try to keep my work to the times when she is either in school or in bed but there are inevitably times where I need to do something urgent while she’s there – or entire days during school holidays where she sees me sitting at my desk.
Each day on our way home from school we talk about how our respective days went, nd mine usually involves a lot of “and then I did some more work.” S knows that I work, and I want to associate all that time spent at my desk with the presents under the tree: Mummy does work; she gets paid; we have nice things.
I don’t want some fantasy stranger taking the credit for the things I’ve worked bloody hard to buy. But also, it’s important that she undersands that my time spent at the laptop does have its rewards.
Obviously S is quite young so I don’t expect her to grasp this concept just yet but it needs to have been there from the outset.
How to deal with children and Father Christmas
I have seen several different suggestions on social media as to how parents should approach the situation when children realise Father Christmas is not real.
Some suggest explaining that Father Christmas is the spirit of Christmas, so it’s alive in all of us.
Others say He’ll exist as long as you believe in him.
In one example, a lady made a big deal of telling her son he had been very kind that year, and she thought that now he was ready to become Santa by secretly buying a present for someone who needed it each year – a nice idea but how many parents have the time (or money) to facilitate buying random gifts for strangers in the run up to Christmas?
Of course, there is always the option of holding your hands up and saying Yep, you got me; it was all a lie.
I don’t know how I will approach the subject with S when the time comes, but I am hopeful that it will be easier for her to accept when Father Christmas has not been the main present provider for her entire life.