I’m going to let you in on secret that I should probably be a little embarrassed about (but I’m not) — I believed in Santa until I was eleven years old! And not just kind of believed. I TRULY one hundred percent believed in all of my heart that he came down the chimney and magically delivered presents to every child around the world. How did that happen, you ask? I was obviously old enough to realize all of the impossibilities and I no longer believed in the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy. But I didn’t want to let go of the magic of Christmas in my heart, so… I just kept believing. Also, my parents had some pretty good tricks up their sleeves!
The first Christmas that I finally accepted what was up, I was twelve years old. On Christmas Eve my Dad asked me if I wanted to help deliver the gifts for my younger brother. I said yes with a bit of a sad heart and he told me to follow him. As we walked through our yard to my neighbor’s house I was extremely confused but my Dad just smiled and said “come on!” We entered the neighbor’s basement and there in the corner were bags full of gifts all carefully wrapped. My parents had hid all of our Christmas gifts at our neighbor’s house my entire life! Secret number one. My Dad and I carried the bags back through our yard into the living room while my brother was fast asleep. That night I helped put bows on the gifts and arrange them under the tree. The gifts from Santa were all wrapped in their special Santa paper with special Santa cursive lettering on the tags, which in later years I learned to perfect. I helped eat the cookies and milk my brother left out for Santa. We went back into the yard and left a bell outside on the lawn that would be discovered days, even weeks later! We sprinkled carrot chunks from the reindeer and I even rang bells outside of my brother’s window right before I went to bed. Some years I would put my Dad’s boots on and make foot prints in the snow. It was magical. And it was exciting. And the spirit of Santa and Christmas was with me every year after as I continued the tradition for my siblings. It became my secret as well, and I was determined to keep my brother’s believing as long as I could.
Now that I have my own children I intend to do the same. There are a lot of ways to keep the magic of Christmas alive and as our children get older and smarter and start asking questions, I’ll attempt to do what my parents did. Simply believe with all my heart in the magic of Christmas. Because when I did ask questions, even when I was eleven years old, my parents didn’t waver for one minute in their response that yes, Santa is real. And at the end of the day (where are my Walking Dead fans at?) Santa IS real, because I AM SANTA and YOU are Santa. So, keep that magic alive!
Finally, without further ado, here are some ways to help your older children keep the magic of Christmas alive:
- Enlist your older children to BE SANTA and help spread the magic to younger siblings, family members and even friends. They’ll get swept up in the magic as well!
- Embrace the spirit of giving. There are so many ways to give, both in your community and around the world. Include your children in your giving decisions during the holiday season and even throughout the year.
- Celebrate the teachings that the holiday season honors. While faith may already be intertwined into your holiday celebrations, now that your child is older, you can take this opportunity to talk more with them about their spiritual or religious beliefs.
- Insist on Santa lists no matter how old they get. To this day my siblings and I still get an e-mail from my Mom asking for our Santa list despite the fact that we’re adults. And we still send them 😉
- Surprises go a long way. Keep the kids on their toes and head to holiday markets or go ice-skating. Partake in all of the fun activities that the holidays bring and make it a family affair.
- Create traditions. Every year on Christmas Eve our whole family makes sugar cookies and decorates them together. The older the kids get, the funnier it is to see how serious they are about their creations. Make your own traditions and stick to them or celebrate the traditions that already exist.
- Remember your kids learn from you. Make sure you are enjoying the holiday season too! It is easy to get swept up in the madness and feel the stress that the holidays can bring. Remember to embrace the magic of the season and the kiddos will too!
- On Christmas morning wake everyone early and join in the excitement. Jump on the kids beds, make a big breakfast while they go through their stockings. Celebrate the day as it truly is a special one for so many reasons!