“Mummy How DOES Santa Fit Down the Chimney?”
It’s almost December – hurray! Tinsel and Christmas trees are being pulled out of attics and houses everywhere are starting to light up with a neon LED glow. Invitations galore to Santa’s grottos and Christmas fayres are popping up everywhere and tickets to the panto are booked.
All of this Christmas excitement goes hand in hand with awkward questions from children about Christmas myths. Lying to children about Santa Claus and his gang of elves is as traditional as a Christmas pudding and parents have been going to great lengths for hundreds of years to keep their children believing.
Last year my 3 and 5 year old said nothing. Their eyes filled with glee at the thought of Father Christmas working in a workshop far away in the North Pole, making gifts with his gangs of elves and then setting off on a sleigh pulled by reindeers to deliver them to every child in the world in one night alone.
But now Sophia is almost seven, she is starting to hear rumours in the playground. Fuelled by movies such as the Polar Express and Miracle on 34th Street, her suspicions are beginning to rise and I am desperate to keep the magic alive even if it’s just for a couple more years. Here are a few of the more common questions that kids ask and ideas on how to handle them:
Santa looks different to the one we saw in the grotto last week, why does he have a longer beard?
When kids get to a certain age they start to notice small things. For example, why was the Santa we saw in the garden centre fatter than the one we saw in the shopping centre? How can Santa be in two places at once? Why did he have glasses on last week and today he doesn’t? All of these are valid questions for a child who is beginning to discover the truth, so play it safe and make sure you just visit one grotto this year. For older children, it may be worth just telling the truth by saying that there are pretend Santas for little children.
The chimney issue
Many houses today have no chimneys – especially if you live in a new build. Even in older homes, chimneys are now blocked off to make flat walls that fit with modern living. Sophia wants to know how Santa gets in our home. We have no chimney so what does he do? This is a good question – probably the best answer is to just say that Santa comes in through a door and he has a magic key so that he can get in, or that he has magical powers which allow him to transport himself into other people’s homes.
What does Santa do if he needs the toilet?
Again a good question, if Santa is visiting millions of homes across the world and drinking whisky and other seasonal drinks on his way, how on earth does his bladder survive? And how does he avoid getting tipsy (something a child is unlikely to ask). You could say that he has a toilet in his sleigh but he doesn’t actually drink every drink that he is offered – instead he uses it to power his sleigh and help the reindeers. That should put curious minds at rest.
The world is huge mummy, how does Santa deliver presents to every single child?
This again is a real struggle for children who are in the second year of primary school – they are learning about the vast size of Africa and the world’s population on one hand and then a miraculous man who can bring gifts to every single child on the other. Time zones are a good answer to this – claim that Santa delivers to Australia while we are still asleep and America while we are eating Christmas dinner – this will buy you at least one more year.
Santa wrapped my presents in the same paper that you wrapped granny’s in mummy?
Good spot – this is a common mistake for parents but a simple one to avoid. Buy special paper and keep it hidden in the top of your wardrobe to wrap stocking fillers – no need to get caught out.
How does he know if I have been naughty or nice?
Kids are really worried about this – Alicia panics about the thought of not having an Enchanted Unicorn (whatever that is) in her stocking. I pretend that there is a little elf who is so tiny that you can’t see him and he lives in our local town. He looks out for children who are being naughty and reports back to Santa. This is believable for my children at the moment but I may need to tweak the story in the future
…if in doubt – hire a Father Christmas
For a small amount you can just hire a Santa to visit your home on Christmas Eve – or simply ask a member of your family to dress up. Have your chosen Santa fill the children’s stockings and leave presents under the tree, eat mince pies and scatter snow and soot around. You could even claim you hid in the living room and took photos and show your children the next day – this may seem a little extreme but there will be absolutely NO doubt that he exists.