The dreaded w question

Two children stand in front of the shining Christmas tree

One of the biggest challenges for parents this holiday season is keeping a child’s faith in Santa Claus. The big one (7) knows (unfortunately) long ago about it. The little girl (5), however, bravely holds on to her belief. This is on the one hand very nice for us, but on the other hand also quite demanding. Basically, any little carelessness on the part of adults can shatter this belief like a glass ball falling from the Christmas tree.

So as parents you have to be on your guard. It already starts with the parcel carrier. During Advent, we, as well as many other families, receive many a package, which also contains one or two gifts for the children. As soon as the doorbell rings, they sprint to the door. Then comes every time the question: "Mom, for whom is the package??"

Approximately truthfully I answer: "for me" or "for daddy". At least my name or his name is on the label – as the big one can read himself by now. Mostly it is then swallowed like this. I wait for an unobserved moment to transport the parcels to the attic and stow them in the small "cubbyhole", the hiding place between the room wall and the roof. Afterwards I barricade the door with flea market cartons.

The closed door to the living room acts like a magnet for children at Christmas time.

The wrapping paper drama

I also keep the Christmas wrapping paper in the "cubbyhole", after a serious mistake on my part: I had put the rolls in the basket in the study after Christmas, where the big boy discovered them. He confronted me with the paper and his resulting theory: "Mom, I know: Santa Claus does not exist! You have lied to us! This is the exact same paper our presents were wrapped in!"

Feverishly I thought about what I could say in my defense. Fortunately I remembered a white lie: "But honey, it’s all good. Santa Claus has fallen ill. So we took over the wrapping of the presents for him."Fortunately, the big one reacted very understandingly. He was even proud that his parents were allowed to give Santa a helping hand. His doubts were quickly dispelled. But I would not get away with such a story again.

Does Santa Claus really exist?

Eventually the moment came, and he asked it of us, the dreaded W question. I do not remember in which context. Anyway, before that my husband and I had agreed to finally tell him the truth. But what do you answer when a child looks deep into your eyes and asks: "Does Santa Claus really exist??"

We wanted to teach it to our big one as gently as possible. So we told him what we had agreed on before: "As long as you want to believe in Santa Claus, he will exist in your heart. But know this: Santa Claus can be anyone who wants to bring joy to others. You can be Santa Claus too, if you want to."

At this moment we expected a tantrum, at least tears of disappointment. Nothing like that happened. He smiled at us conspiratorially and had understood. We asked him not to reveal anything to his little sister. He still keeps this promise today, which makes us extremely proud. But it will probably not be long before the beliefs of the little ones are also disenchanted.

When the candles on the Christmas tree light up, the children’s eyes also shine.

The almost moment

Recently, there was another near-moment when my parents-in-law were watching the little one. As soon as I returned home from an appointment, my father-in-law started a conversation with me: the gift for the baby had already been delivered. The fact that she was sitting on the sofa with her grandmother at that moment didn’t stop him from happily talking his head off. Only when his wife pierced him with glances, cleared her throat while reading aloud and became louder and louder, did he change the subject. Not without a "She does listen to grandma. She certainly did not realize that!" to push behind.

I would not be so sure. Children often notice much more than we adults are aware of. They have particularly fine antennae for what they are not supposed to notice. And one thing is for sure: At some point, the moment will come when our little girl also asks us the dreaded W-question. The good thing is that we already know exactly what we are going to say to her.


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