While I love the magic of my children believing in Santa and encourage it as much as possible, I do have a serious problem with telling kids their presents are actually from Santa.
In fact, I’m just going to say it bluntly. I think it is wrong to tell your child that the presents under their tree on Christmas morning are from Father Christmas.
And I have very good reasons.
My very good reasons
I have three reasons for feeling so strongly about this.
Firstly - if my children believe that the presents under their tree are simply made by magic in Santa’s workshop then they don’t need to worry about how much they cost.
They can demand as many Lego sets as they like because they don’t need to give any thought to the cost or what the budget might be.
I don’t think that’s particularly good for them and I don’t want Christmas to encourage them to be more demanding than is okay. Christmas should be magical for children but it shouldn’t encourage greed.
Secondly – I think it is very important to encourage my children to thank the people who buy them presents, whether they are from relatives or from us. Their presents show that people who love them have been thoughtful about them and I think they need to understand that.
If they think their presents simply arrived thanks to the mysterious whim of a jolly fat man, then they won’t see them for what they are: expressions of love.
Thirdly – I don’t want them to wonder why some of their friends get more presents and some get fewer.
If they know children whose families don’t or can’t buy them as many presents as they get, I don’t want my boys to assume that those kids have been naughty and Santa is punishing them.
Nor do I want them to look at their friends who get iPhones and ponies, and wonder if Santa likes those kids more.
Right. So why tell them Santa exists?
Despite my strong opinions on why it’s wrong to tell children that their presents come from Father Christmas, I am perfectly happy to tell them that he’s real.
I want them to have the fun of leaving out a mince pie and a carrot, I want them to listen out for sleigh bells on Christmas Eve and to run downstairs in the morning, giddy with excitement that Santa has actually been here in our house.
So I’ve tried to walk a tricky line. As far as my boys are concerned, Santa is the one who brings the presents. He uses a magical flying sleigh, lands on the roof and eats the mince pie and whisky left out for him (it’s always whisky in our house. Don’t try to fob him off with milk; it’s cold outside).
However, I tell them that Santa is delivering the presents that friends and family have bought, with real money.
We’ve arranged for those presents to be delivered to the North Pole because… well. Just because. They haven’t asked why yet.
But this is a workaround that lets them have the joy of Christmas without letting the magic encourage greed and ingratitude.
Yes, I am very fun at parties. Why do you ask?
Look, I realise that having strong opinions about Santa might make me sound deeply, deeply unfun. Felicity Hannah, Christmastime Fun Police.
But I think that Christmas should bring out the best in us; it’s about family and love and spending time together. It shouldn’t be about a magic free-for-all where they can rip open presents without giving a thought to where they came from.
Nor should it be a chance for kids to measure how ‘good’ they have been by the pile under the tree, especially if they have friends who are likely to get substantially more or substantially less.
On the other hand
I wanted to see if I am the only person to worry about whether Santa bringing the presents risks making some children worry that they got fewer gifts because they have been naughty.
So I did what every modern parent does in these situations and searched the internet. As you’d expect, this issue has already come up on Reddit.
If you want to tell children that Santa makes and brings their presents, even the branded ones, but you need to explain why poorer kids may get fewer presents, I’ve scoured through the various answers and this is my favourite:
‘Kekabillie’ says: “Santa is contractually forbidden from altering the socioeconomic status of any individual. On a grand scale, the ability to alter the status of particular groups would allow Santa too much influence over political decisions.
“This would eventually be noticed and cause discontent which runs contrary to the primary mission of the North Pole: the deliverance of Cheer™. As such he can only provide presents that are appropriate for the environment the child is in.”
Hard to argue with that.
What do you think? What should we tell children about Santa Claus, if anything? Is Felicity overreacting? Have your say using the comments below.