Today I read a news story about a second grade teacher who told her students that Santa Claus didn't exist. The class was doing a geography lesson and talked about the north pole. The students said they knew where that was because it was where Santa lived. The teacher took it upon herself to tell the class that Santa didn't exist and it was their parents putting presents under the tree. Remember, these were seven and eight year-old kids! I was shocked that a teacher would squash a child's imagination and wonder so callously.
I know the reality of Santa, and also know that the most important part of Christmas is not him but Jesus. However, we want to encourage our kids' belief in something beyond this world and foster their imagination. So we have always told them about Santa. In fact, their belief is so strong, that it's just about impossible to change it! This Christmas our daughter is nine and our son ten and they believe in Santa Claus. Some of their cousins and school friends have told them that it's just parents, but they don't believe it at all. Last year they tried to set up a video camera to catch Santa and prove to their friends that he exists; thankfully it was a cheap kids' camera with an automatic shutoff and didn't record long enough (though I had a plan for the cats to "knock over" the camera and film only boots....which I happen to have).
We also follow Swedish beliefs in Jul Tomte who comes on Christmas Eve while people are home (Santa comes after everyone is asleep). Each year we have come up with some excuse to leave the house for a while and when we get home Jul Tomte has visited and left presents and a note (I always find a way to sneak around and leave the presents on the back porch). This year the kids are adamant about not going anywhere and missing Jul Tomte yet again. We're still trying to figure out how to get around that, but are hoping to convince someone to stop by as Jul Tomte.
Some may think that we need to prepare the kids for the reality of the world and not foster false beliefs. But the world is cold and banal, and growing more so every day. So many people lack a sense of wonder and joy, and we don't want our children to be that way. I remember when I found out that Santa wasn't real, but I was around the age of my son and my parents did a great job of talking to me about Santa, gnomes, and other wondrous beings. I feel that I am better because of it and not worse, and that it's helped my outlook on life.
We need more magic in our lives. As much of a challenge it is to keep up with our kids determination to get proof of Santa and Jul Tomte, my wife and I are proud of the job we've done getting them to that point. The world is dark enough, and I want our children to see some brightness in it.