Book Notes and Giveaway: The Secret of the Santa Box

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"Giveaway: The Secret of the Santa Box" (CatholicMom.com)

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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"Giveaway: The Secret of the Santa Box" (CatholicMom.com)


Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS
Your purchase of the resources mentioned here through Amazon affiliate links benefits the author of this article.

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About Author

Barb Szyszkiewicz is a wife, mom, Secular Franciscan, managing editor for Today’s Catholic Teacher magazine and editor at CatholicMom.com. Her three children range in age from high school to young adult, and she enjoys writing, cooking, and reading. Barb is a music minister at her parish and an avid Notre Dame football and basketball fan. Find her blog at FranciscanMom and her family’s favorite recipes with nutrition information for diabetics at Cook and Count.

38 Comments

  1. My son is 9. Last year, I heard the doubt in his voice, but a ride on the Polar Express bought me another year. I think this is the year we have the talk. 🙁

  2. Kunthea Jairam on

    My oldest is 8 and still believes in Santa. This book sounds perfect for the day I’ll have to have the “Santa” talk with him.

  3. My son is five but already asks some very hard to answer Sana questions. This book would be a great way to start the discussion when the time comes. I don’t think that there is any specific age in which to do it. I believe it differs greatly from child to child, family to family.

  4. By middle school I think is when my brother and I found out-13. After several failed Christmas attempts to have Santa take a picture of himself and capture santa on the legs robot cam, and talking with friends we figured it out.

  5. Only 1/4 of our kids has had a “Santa conversation” with us so far. We let the kids lead and ask questions, and I was surprised how long the oldest was willing to believe – age 12. As the oldest, it was an easy transition for him being a “helper” for his younger siblings. Not sure what happens when we get to the youngest!

    Your family tradition sounds wonderful, Barb!

    • It’s a cherished tradition — and it’s terrific to see how protective the teenagers are over it. They want the little kids to have the same magical experience they did. Actually, that’s my favorite part of the whole thing.

  6. Our oldest started asking some pretty difficult questions at 6, so it didn’t last long at our house. This book would have been so helpful during that time! We have 2 younger siblings, so this will be great for the future.

  7. My oldest is 3.5 so we don’t have to worry about breaking the news for a while, but I would think there’s no “set” age – just when they seem to suspect and have asked questions. And even then, I love the idea set forth in the book of how to continue the tradition with the help of the older children.

  8. my oldest is 11 and we havent told her yet but i think we are going to right before Christmas.. she already makes hints like she knows..she is at the age where i think kids in school say stuff and i dont want her to ruin it for her little brothers. i think it all depends on the child and situation but i say let them believe as long as you can

  9. I kind of fell like they should get to an age where they figure it out for themselves. My 9 year old still believes with all his heart. His 12 year old brother I’m fairly sure knows the truth but won’t admit it. Whether it’s because he wants to keep the fantasy alive for his little brother, or he is savvy enough to know to keep his mouth shut so he’ll get gifts from Santa, I’m not sure. And now we have a 3 year old little girl to keep it going for, too.

  10. Trisha Musgrave on

    I don’t think there is a certain age, I think when a child starts asking questions and not thinking he is real is the right time.

  11. That’s a tough one as I believe there should be no set age on this; when a child is ready, you will know and so will they. There can be a “too old point” but, it depends on the child’s mental capabilities honestly. I think let them believe, but unfortunately there are bullies to consider 🙁

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