What did Santa get you?!
Forget hello, the first words kids will be excitedly shouting to their friends on the first day of school after the holidays will undoubtedly be to ask their friends what special gifts the Mr. Kris Kringle brought them on Christmas morning.
As some children jump about and happily share their answers, you’ll notice other children becoming more withdrawn or even upset at this line of questioning.
Because while Santa brought their friends everything they asked for, he may have only brought them a modest gift.
Or not visited at all.
Yes, as adults we can understand that this is due to income inequality – “rich kids” and “poor kids” – but for kids, Santa represents rewarding good behaviour and punishing bad behaviour. (Regardless of what you try to teach at home.)
Despite our best intentions, kids quickly determine that their friends who got everything they wanted must have been very good and those who didn’t get lavish presents must have been naughty.
That’s why this year, I’m encouraging you to consider letting Santa bring the smaller gifts – and put your name on the big presents.
I mean, after all, why should Santa get the glory for your hard work and effort?
It doesn’t mean that those presents can’t still be special and meaningful. In fact, we all know that it’s not often the jaw-droppingly expensive presents that end up being the most special. And Christmas magic is often best captured in other ways, beyond gift bringing:
- Making Santa footprints on the floor with a bit of flour
- Tracking Santa on Google GPS
- Leaving out milk and cookies – and some reindeer mix, too!
- Hot chocolate and special Christmas stories
- Christmas Eve traditions like tobogganing or getting to open one gift
- Singing Christmas songs and baking
- – or crafting
- – or building LEGO!
- Doing something special for someone else
In a season where we try a little extra hard to think about others and practice kindness, it makes sense to me to want to let other children’s feelings and self-worth be preserved. Our children lose nothing from having a simple name swap on their gift tags. They’re still getting the same presents we planned – we’re just taking all of the credit for the big ticket items!
Of course, we can encourage our children to be humble and not brag about all the gifts they received, but we can’t expect kids to not want to share their good fortune with their friends. What we can do is ensure that when our kids do share, that it doesn’t leave other children wondering, “Why did Santa bring Johnny an XBox and I got slippers? I must have been bad this year.”
Santa is real for a short window of time, but the scars of feeling bad and inadequate can last a lot longer than that. There’s enough opportunities out there for kids to feel unequal – let’s do what we can to let all kids have a magical Christmas.