2011 brings a Christmas first for our family.
2 of 3 Diehl boys no longer believe in Santa. If you remember, we told Luke last March. And based on the way it all went down with Bennett, I really don’t think Luke told him, as Bennett figured things out one (Easter Bunny in March) by one (tooth fairy in July) by one (Santa, in about September, I think).
Each time, when Bennett asked me if they were real, my question in return was “What do you think?” I always knew that I was never going to lie to my kids when they asked me this question, but I also didn’t feel like I needed to just come out and say it if there was uncertainty. His immediate response was “I don’t think so” followed by a reasonable explanation every time.
For me, there wasn’t another choice besides the truth, even though he was younger than I hoped he’d be when he figured this out. And I get that there are parents that want it to go on as long as possible, and I know that there are people who don’t do Santa at all, and I’m not judging, trust me. But for our family, this was the right choice.
Santa is just not a very big deal in our house. He brings a couple of small presents on Christmas morning, but the bulk of the gifts come from Matt and me on Christmas Eve. Honestly, part of that, from the beginning, was to avoid the “I want a million things for Christmas so I’ll just ask Santa if Mom and Dad say no” mentality. And part of it was to help keep the focus on the real reason we celebrate Christmas: the miraculous birth of our Savior.
I did wonder how it might affect this season, having not one but two of them not believe. I can honestly say that it’s been no different: the wonder of Christmas is still very much present. I get cute little winks from Luke and Bennett when Jack Henry talks about Santa, and the boys have done a good job of protecting the secret. They still get excited about all of the traditions we have. There’s still lots of anticipation about the gifts they’re getting. It’s no different.
More than that, though, I think that their service work took on a whole new meaning. Our church participates in the Angel Tree Ministry, where people buy gifts for children whose parents are incarcerated. Several churches in the area do this, and last Friday night, all of the gifts needed to be delivered to a local school, where on Saturday, children would come to choose their gifts. Understanding that there’s no Santa to swoop in and make these kids’ Christmas dreams come true really changed their perspective on the (very fun!) work they were doing.
At this point, I’m not at all dreading Jack Henry someday figuring it all out. I mean, I’m not going to hurry him along, and I definitely don’t want to wish time away, but it’s not a sad prospect for me. I hope that as the years go on, the boys’ sense of generosity and realizing that they can really do something to make someone else’s Christmas special will grow. I don’t expect the wonderment to go away.
We’re doing our best to balance Advent Conspiracy ideas…
…with the fact that we love to give our kids gifts at Christmas, because we don’t ever just buy them something just because. Sara at Are We There Yet? wrote a post that I loved called “In Defense of Gift Givers” where she referred to giving gifts as her love language…and I can totally identify. I love thinking about/making/buying things that I think people will love.