One of the most precious elements of the Christmas Season is the genuine joy and excitement expressed by the children. The level of innocence and faith in an old jolly magical white-bearded man is something to be cherished.
Most parents have told the story of Jolly Saint Nick many times. Although the true meaning of Christmas is one of a spiritual nature, as a child you were thankful for the birth of Christ, but you were excited that Santa was coming to bring you gifts.
What parent hasn’t leveraged the legend of Santa Claus to motivate their child's behavior during the holiday season slightly? Should we have, the kids go to bed early so Santa Claus can come soon or use the ever favorite “naughty & nice” list the weeks leading up to Christmas Day?
The thought and image of Santa Claus excite most children. Quite frankly, it excites most parents as well. Many fathers have dressed up as Santa Claus at one point in their life. Moms and Dads alike have taken several dozen bites out of the homemade cookies left for Santa Claus. Many parents (like us) even used flour or the actual ashes in the fireplace (a mistake which is only made once) to create Santa footprints on the floor from the fireplace to the Christmas tree. It is an extra special time not only in the child’s life but also the parents.
Then comes that dreaded conversation…..your child comes home from school one day and challenges the actual existence of Santa Claus. Then to make matters worse, your child accuses you of willfully misleading them for years since you, in fact, was Santa Claus.
I don’t know a single parent whose heart did not ache a bit following this conversation. Logically, every parent knows the conversation is coming. However, logic and emotion do not always go hand in hand. It was the reality that a layer of innocence had just been peeled away from their child and along with it a little piece of the parent’s innocence as well that makes the conversation so painful.
Where girls appear to express an emotion of sadness during the conversation, boys take on the behavior of a criminal prosecutor in their questioning. In fact, even at a young age, there exists the unfortunate male ego. At the end of the conversation, the boy will always attempt to explain how he knew the reality of Santa for a long time.
In my case, the existence of Santa conversation took place with my oldest son during the month of September. I recall my son’s expression of childhood arrogance immediately transforming to one of sadness when I questioned his timing of the conversation. I told him that if I were him I probably would have delayed the conversation until January to ensure one more Christmas of receiving double gifts – from Santa as well as mom and dad. It was the first memory I actually have of my son being speechless.
Honestly, I wish he would have waited and extended my Santa Claus time. It is a wonderful time not only for the child but the parent. With that said…….I have been blessed. There are many challenges that accompany a child with Autism; however, there are also many blessings. One such blessing is an extended childhood – which means an extended Santa Claus time with my youngest son Jackson.
The holiday season is often a time of great stress but it is also a time to reflect and give thanks for the blessings we have received. Even though it is often difficult to identify blessings during troubled times, they do exist. Look at me……I found a blessing in the oddest place – Autism.
Photo by Janet Arnold
Husband, father, coffee connoisseur and lover of all things hockey. At 51 I sometimes wonder have I done enough. I have been married to my best friend for 30 years. She knows all my faults and loves me anyway, As a father of “almost always” perfect boys, I am always surprised at what life has to offer. It is messy, scary, thrilling, and always fun.