Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Little Christmas Confusion

Gabi knows that Santa Claus is pretend.

Well, she knows that WE think Santa Claus is pretend. After everything she heard over the last few months, though, she has developed other ideas.

I thought we were doing a pretty good job of making Christmas about the birth of Jesus, and explaining that we give presents in remembrance of the Magi's gifts, while also having fun with the whole Santa thing and telling Gabi about the Elves and Rudolph and the Naughty and Nice list. As a STORY. A PRETEND STORY that you tell for Christmas.

But just before Christmas our conversations started to take a turn:

Me: Gabi, look, there's Santa!

Gabi: That's a daddy dressed in a costume. Right, mommy?

Me: Yes, that's probably a daddy dressed in a costume. Doesn't he look jolly?

Gabi: Yes, but he's not the REAL Santa.

Me: Gabi, Santa is just pretend. He's not a real person. It's just a story, like The Little Mermaid is a story.

Gabi: Hmmm. I like that story. Ariel is my favorite! Will the real Santa bring me a present?

I think the confusion is founded in a million other people telling Gabi that Santa is real. Isn't this a parent's prerogative? They're all probably just acting on the safe side in case Gabi DOES believe in Santa, but she doesn't, or didn't, so it's just confusing her.

And what child wouldn't want to believe in Santa? He brings presents! And has flying reindeer! And gives out chocolate at the mall! If I was Gabi, and hearing different versions of the Santa Claus story, I'd choose the one with the presents, too.

Christmas is now over, and Santa didn't bring Gabi any presents. She seemed a little disappointed at first, but was soon much more excited by what she DID get. A dollhouse! And new clothes for her Bitty Baby. And so much more. We all had a really wonderful day.

Hopefully by next year she'll be old enough to understand that the Santa story is just pretend, and something we do for fun. It's pretty important to both Gilberto and I that Gabi know the truth, but a million to one odds are hard to beat!

1 comment:

  1. Santa, the person, is not real.

    But the story represents a great spirit of giving and part of the magic of childhood. To quote the famous letter,

    "Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no child-like faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished."

    You're doing the right thing, to tell her it is a story, but do not fear if she truly believes for now. Believing in those things that make no sense, can't be seen or cannot possibly be true are parts of the joys of childhood. And teaching children that there is joy in the act of giving selflessly (for the stories obviously show Santa is jolly about his giving)is one of the best gifts you can give Gabi.

    Although she knows they are stories, somewhere in the recesses of her imagination, she believes Ariel will swim up to her in that ocean, and what little princess doesn't believe in her shining knight? Although she knows Santa is a story, told for fun, there are far worse things she could believe. Continue telling the story, not because you cannot avoid it at this time of year, but because it is fun. She will stop beliving in fairy tales all too soon, and you will long for the days when you worried about this.

    Laural, you are a GREAT mom. Don't worry if she believes in a little magic now and then. Enjoy the fact that she believes in a little magic now and then. Too many children in this world never get the opportunity.

    Have a wonderful New Year! I miss you all.


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