One of the most difficult conversations parents can have with their children is the “Santa Talk.” My husband and I hated having to break the news to our children. It was especially hard because his family’s tradition is to have an appearance from Santa at the big family gathering each Christmas Eve.
After a big dinner featuring plenty of pierogi and other Polish favorites, the host of the party gets everyone’s attention and reads the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke. We all sing “Silent Night.” Then one of the grownups, on cue, mentions that they hear some jingle bells and banging on the roof. They encourage everyone to sing “Jingle Bells” to tell Santa where we are. Then Santa comes through the door! The little kids are completely thrilled. One lucky child is chosen to hold the jingle bells. Big kids in the family act as Santa’s Helpers and hand him the gifts for each child, which are piled up under the Christmas tree. Everyone at the party, no matter your age or size, will be called to Santa’s lap to receive a gift and have a photo opportunity. When the gifts are all handed around and opened, Santa poses for pictures with each family and then with all the kids, big and small. Santa leads us in a few Christmas songs and carols and then heads on his way. Then it’s time to enjoy a variety of homemade desserts, most of which involve chocolate, and we all head on our way.
The visit from Santa is a magical part of my husband’s family’s tradition. Children and adults alike look forward to the event. Once the children are old enough to stop “believing” they are told that they are now Santa’s Helpers and they need to make sure they don’t ruin things for the little ones. Remembering the fun they always had, they usually don’t have a problem graduating to this new role. The Santa tradition brings out the best in all the members of the family.
Not every family has a Santa tradition like this one, but many families do struggle with the thought of having to tell their children the truth about Santa. Author and parent Christopher Fenoglio notes that
“there comes a time, around the fourth or fifth grade, when children start to figure out that their parents’ explanations don’t make sense. They talk to their friends, compare notes about Christmas gifts and the Jolly Old Elf, and little by little, The Secret evaporates as the truth becomes known.”
Fenoglio urges parents not to leave it to others to tell their children the secret about Santa. In a sweetly-illustrated new picture book, The Secret of the Santa Box, Fenoglio offers a beautiful way to teach children how to participate in the magic of Christmas giving in a new way — one which honors the Christmas-gift tradition that began with the birth of Jesus:
“When our Father so lovingly gave us His Son,
‘Twas the ultimate gift, a tradition begun.
As we give to each other, we magnify Love
And begin to resemble the Giver above.”
Told in the familiar cadence of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” Fenoglio’s story recounts how he and his wife shared the secret of Santa with their oldest child. It’s meant to be read aloud to children when parents discern that their child has reached the right age to know the secret and to begin to bear the responsibility of being “called to be Santa, to spread Christmas joy.”
Would you like to win a copy of The Secret of the Santa Box to read with your child?
Enter below to win The Secret of the Santa Box! 3 winners in the USA will receive a copy of this book. Contest ends Monday, November 13 at 11:59 PM. Winners will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to claim the prize. If prize is unclaimed, an alternate winner will be chosen.
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Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS
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