After years of keeping up the Santa Claus charade, parents sometimes have a hard time breaking the news of his nonexistence to their kids.
But one parent has shared a lovely idea to frame the conversation. Mom Charity Hutchinson reposted an idea she came across online in an inspiring Facebook post.
In the post, Hutchinson shared what she believes is “by far the best idea I’ve seen about telling your kids about Santa.”
The concept involves transitioning children from receiving presents 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,” the parent’s post explains.
The process is simple. When your kids are around 6 or 7, or whatever age they start appearing suspicious about the reality of Santa, sit them down and make the following declaration:
“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!”
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.
The original poster’s children enjoyed being Santa over the years and delivered thoughtful gifts for people who could use a little Christmas magic.
The post ends by noting that the children “never felt that they had been lied to ― because they were let in on the Secret of Being a Santa.”
Hutchinson’s Facebook post with this anonymous parent’s advice has been shared over 4,200 times, and the comments section is filled with messages of gratitude from fellow parents, thanking the mom for helping to spread this nice idea.
Hutchinson told The Huffington Post she’s not sure where the idea originated. “I wish I could say I had thought of it myself ― it’s pretty brilliant!” she said. “I actually just saw one of my friends post about it, and it just felt like it needed to be shared!”
While the exact origin may be unknown, this post appears in online forums as early as 2007 in a discussion about single parenting.
Hutchinson has two sons, ages 4 and 6, and cares for her 8-year-old and 9-year-old nephews as well. She said she’s always struggled with what to tell her kids about Santa Claus. While she grew up in a Christian household with no mention or trace of Santa, her husband believed in Santa as a child and remembers feeling very upset when he learned the jolly man in red was not real.
”He mentioned how tough that was as a kid to find out in one conversation that all the magic was gone and he had been lied to,” Hutchinson explained, adding that she didn’t want her children to feel that way and also didn’t want them to think Christmas was all about about presents.
“Christmas is about helping others, giving selflessly, and being thankful for what you do have and not what you don’t,” the mom said. “Reading this parent’s story made me feel like I could, even as a Christian, encourage my children to believe in him so that one day they could become a Santa and give to others.”
Added Hutchinson, “In doing so I wouldn’t be taking away from my own beliefs or taking some childhood magic away from them, but I would be teaching them a pretty amazing life lesson instead.”
The mom said she hopes sharing the idea will help other parents find peace in the sometimes-stressful Santa tradition. And even if their kids aren’t old enough to “become a Santa,” she hopes they will still do something kind and generous for others this holiday season.
“It’s never too early in a child’s life to teach them to have a kind heart and to help and be a blessing to others,” she said.
‘Tis the season of giving!