I first decided to write on this topic a couple of weeks ago when I was discussing with some friends the different ages we all stopped believing in Father Christmas. The general consensus was that for most of us, the illusion was burst around the age of 7 or 8. My friends were quite shocked to learn that I, of all people, learned of Santa’s non-existence as early as 3 years old. Yes you heard me right!
As a toddler, my parents have told me how I was terrified at the thought of an old man coming into the house when I was asleep. According to them, during the December of my third Christmas I expressed an awful lot of fear about the ever looming Christmas Eve when said figure of ‘Saint Nicholas’ would come down the chimney. Considering how obsessed with Christmas I am now, it’s quite bizarre to think that I was scared to death of this man who serves as a symbol for the entire celebration!
My parents found themselves in a strange situation, deciding between putting me through unnecessary trauma by carrying on the lie or by swiping away the magic that I might soon come to participate in with other children my age.
What was their solution you ask? Well, it was BARNEY.
I’m sure you all remember Barney-you know, that purple dinosaur who used to always go on about using our ‘imagination‘! My parents sat 3 year old Becky down and explained how the idea of Santa Claus was all in my IMAGINATION and it changed everything for the better. None of the magic was destroyed – every year on Christmas morning I would run down the steps shouting ‘Has he been!? Has he been!?‘ , every Christmas Eve I would put out milk and cookies for St Nick and I would never fail to write my list to the ever so accurate address of ‘Santa’s House, The North Pole’. I knew he wasn’t real but it seemed that using my imagination didn’t bother me at all and my parents never had to admit to lying for however many years of my childhood.
I think over the past decade or so, the idea of telling children Santa exists has become more and more controversial. Is it lying? Is it going to destroy the trust between kids and parents? Is it a bad example for the younger generation that manipulating the truth is sometimes acceptable?
Personally, I think it’s something parents have to decide themselves as every child is different and every situation is individual – there isn’t one right answer. However, I couldn’t recommend the Barney solution more!
Definitely no lack of Christmas spirit here.