Last Christmas, my son, aged 7, started to ask questions about whether Father Christmas was real, having heard things at school. I laughed the idea off as ridiculous, asking who would bring the presents if he was fake? He believed me as he always does – why else would he mistrust his mother?
Fast forward to this year but this time there were no questions. While walking in a wonderful Christmas market in Copenhagen last weekend, he announced loudly and proudly to his 6 year old sister that of course Father Christmas is not real and it is in fact Mum and Dad who bring the presents. Her face dropped and I again covered up the announcement by laughing it off as silly. He continued, to the point that I had to take him aside and ask him to stop (I say ask, it was more of a stern tell really).
He still believed me but his friends were continuing to tell him something different. I could see he was getting more confused as surely mum doesn’t lie.
I asked myself, “Is 8 too old to believe in magic?”
I then asked myself how sad it would be to lose the magic at 6, the age his sister is.
I knew that I needed to do something. Fast.
I chatted to a friend as her son was feeling the same, so taking inspiration from her and a few google searches, I sat down and wrote, for the first time, a letter to my son.
I wanted to write to you to talk more about your question “Is Father Christmas real?” that you have asked a few times and I feel is causing you some confusion which is leading to frustration.
You have asked if Mummy and Daddy are Father Christmas and the answer to this is no. However, it is not as simple as that.
Father Christmas isn’t an actual person. He represents the magic that is Christmas. He is something that we believe in, to give us hope and joy at a time that is very special.
He is in our hearts, a bit like God or other “out of this world” things people believe in. For young children, he is wonderful, mysterious and someone that we love as he brings us presents as well as giving presents to other children. He is pretty awesome huh?
But he’s special to grownups too, as the love and joy is felt by us all; and when we see the smiles on your faces we too feel the magic and glow inside.
But it is us that lovingly saves up all year, chooses the gifts, puts them in your stocking and under the tree. We are part of team Father Christmas, we are bringing the magic and love to you and Kitty.
And now it is time for you to join the crew, and we all together will create the happiness for Kitty.
We love you Herbie, more than you will ever know. And we thank you for keeping the spirit of Christmas alive for her until she is ready to join us.
Love Mummy and Daddy xx
I put it into an envelope and left it on his pillow to find and read alone.
I gave him a few minutes as I couldn’t resist seeing his reaction. He was full of wonder and amazement as everything now made sense without any joy being taken away. He said thank you to me and I felt relief.
Our children growing up can be hard to bear sometimes but it is our job to make the transitions easier, and to handle it in a sensitive way. It is our role to be honest when the time is needed, without crashing their innocent dreams. For us, the letter worked and is likely to be something I use again.
And it now my job to continue to create the Father Christmas magic for everyone in our home, young and old, with a new member of the crew on board.