This is a conversation that took place roughly 16 years ago in early December:
Six year old son: Mum, tell me honestly, is Father Christmas real?
Six year old son: Mmmm, didn’t think so.
(A pause as six year old looks thoughtfully off into the distance)
Six year old son: So I’m guessing the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy aren’t either. (Said as a statement not a question)
Me: No, they’re not.
Six year old son: Okay. (runs off to play)
Me: So you know how we talked about Father Christmas, the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy? Well, some kids your age don’t know they are not real, and their parents don’t want to tell them, so tomorrow when you go to school, you need to not tell anyone okay? Can you do that, do you think?
Six year old son nodding emphatically: Yep, no worries mum!
Next day at school six year old son in the ‘do you have anything interesting to show or tell’ section of the day: Now, I have something to tell you all….and most of you aren’t gonna be happy!
You can imagine the angry stares and tuts of disapproval I received in the school carpark the following morning 🙂
Believing in the big fat man at Christmas time never did me any harm and I was happy for my kids to believe as a long as they wanted to. But if they flat out asked us, we always agreed we would tell the truth.
Yet, for some parent’s this is not the case, and part of the reason I think is leverage. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but kids can be a bit crazy this time of year and parents are tired and stressed, so I can understand to a certain degree, yet I still cringe when I hear a parent in a shopping centre tell their kids that Santa won’t come if they are naughty. And it doesn’t work, the child still keeps misbehaving because I’m sure they were told the same thing last year and still found presents under the tree.
Surely gifts should be given not because of our behaviour but because of the intent and love of the giver. The whole notion that you must be good to get gifts kinda goes against the whole meaning of Christmas, don’t you think?
Jesus came, as a gift, to a world that was far from good – no strings attached, no conditions – which humanity barely recognised, let alone deserved.
The first ever Christmas Gift was given, not because we earned it through being good, but because the Giver wanted to show us love. Plain and simple.