I asked myself this question for the first time on my little #1's first Christmas. We remembered that when we found out Santa wasn't real it was devastating for us and decided to avoid that altogether. Plus, the waste and materialism it can turn into isn't what we are about either. We put up a little tree, lights and a few decorations and spend a really nice night together but that's as far as we have taken it. Recently, after finally coming up for air after little #1's birth, I started remembering the importance of believing in the magical and the unseen. So I started questioning our decision to have Santa skip over our home. I asked a friend who is very devoted to the Waldorf way who has an excellent blog about everything Waldorf. I thought her response was so well put and beautiful so I want to share it here...
Me: Shorty after we both read your post, we had a conversation about the Sugar Sprite. We were both affected by the loss of Santa Clause when we realized that he wasn’t real so we resolved a long time ago to not do that to our kids. I love the idea of the Sugar Sprite and think is beautiful and useful as well but where would you say the line between introducing magical things and ideas and lying to our children is? It’s something I haven’t figured out for myself yet…
Patricia: What you question is a tough conversation because today more and more individuals look and want only the physical truth - but in reality there are many perspectives to this topic.
If one were to look at this in a more Socratic method - you would begin to see there are multiple layers of reality and that some of the most ephemeral to adults are the nearest to children and are, in fact, the most nurturing to them.
For instance if you celebrate Christmas - as we adults can easily see and understand, that there is no little fat man in a red suit called Santa Claus and he does not have a team of reindeer that can fly. But, as adults we can also see, and through our feeling life, experience evidence everywhere that this is a spirit of kindness, of generosity and warmth toward mankind - this feeling that is experienced is a true tangible role among people at this time of year. In a child's world, calling that spirit Santa Claus helps them relate to it personally. Later, when they ask out of themselves somewhere between 2nd and 5th grade (usually) - whether Santa really 'exists', the first answer a parent should give is the one above - if, and only if, the child persists to point out the problems with that answer or questions Santa's existence, then a loving and caring way, the parent can move into the 'Spirit of Christmas that we all carry within us and call Santa' sort of answer. Doing this allows the child to continue to have faith in adults and the world in general.
Volunteering information that pertains only to physical reality makes children nervous and insecure, because it is at variance with their own experience.
I hope that makes a bit of sense and I was thrilled to read that you and John sat down to have this conversation - how refreshing. It is up to adults to really imbue the soul of each child in our care - the soul needs to be awakened into a warmth - not just filled with coldness, harsh reality and physical facts.
This really helped me remember there is always more ways to look at things. So this year we will introduce Santa Claus in our own special Schott Clan way!