This year has been coming for a while. In fact, it could easily have been last year or maybe even the year before. This has been the first Christmas that H (8 years old) hasn’t believed in Santa and it’s all been out in the open. Last year I don’t think he really believed, but he went along with it. The year before he had severe doubts.
The Santa myth is not a terribly credible tale to tell a boy with a scientific bent of mind. There are all sorts of questions that are difficult to handle in any sort of empirical way. How does Santa get down the chimney? What does he do if there isn’t a chimney? How does he possibly know where all the children are? How does he get round all the houses in such a short time? How does his sleigh fly? The list goes on.
Whilst I’m sad in a way that the magic has gone, I’m relieved too. We have always tried not to lie to H and the whole Santa thing kind of went against that. When we were fending off questions about the logistics of the Santa story, I found myself saying things like ‘maybe this is how it happens’ rather than actually lying. Ok it was a bit smoke and mirrors, so I’m glad that we don’t have to do that anymore.
This year H has avoided anything Santa related. I’ve turned down a number of visits to Santa grottos because he didn’t want to go. I talked to him about this and whilst he didn’t actually say it, I think he is drawing a line. He has said that he might go again next year. Maybe then he’ll have made his point and can happily go back to the idea of the Santa myth as something that’s a bit of fun and not to be taken too seriously.
I’ve been very proud of him for not letting on about Santa to his best friend, who does still believe, and to the younger siblings of other friends of his (who we see very regularly) too. He’s found it very difficult with his best friend as it’s meant that he can’t talk about some things that he’s wanted to, but he’s kept quiet. That’s kind of the feeling that I have been wrestling with the last few years with him, so I can sympathise.
Christmas has still been fun. He’s still had his stocking. He knows we’ve filled it, in fact we got told off this year for filling it before Midnight as he spotted it bulging when we lifted him before we went to bed on Christmas Eve. It’s been a more honest festive season, but it hasn’t been any the worst for that. All the presents are now from us rather than Santa taking some of the credit. It’s meant we can be more flexible about our gift budget. If I was doing the whole Santa thing again with another child, I would do it a bit differently, but that’s easy to say with hindsight. Christmas this year has been about spending time together without the old man in red popping into the party. We’ve given each other the gifts we’ve picked out; we have played board games together; enjoyed some Christmas TV; and eaten some lovely family meals. Like I say, Christmas without Santa isn’t so bad.