What did I learn this week?

Here come the holidays…

So, the holiday season is upon us, and Solstice and Christmas will be here before you know it. C is enjoying watching the original animated version of the Grinch twice each evening. If you are wondering why that cartoon still looks good, its because Dr. Suess wrote the screenplay, and was intimately involved with the production, thereby ensuring that the original Grinchiness was preserved. I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to hear C telling people, “You know, Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Christmas means a little bit more.” I guess a little TV is not a bad thing after all. Notably, she has not asked for a single thing this year – except candy from the advent calendar I made for her.

Christmas is so much more complicated than it used to be. On the Santa issue alone there are two sharply divided camps – yes to Santa, and no to Santa. I have tried to carefully walk the middle here. C very matter of factly points out that the Santas we see around town or on TV “are not actually Santa, only people dressed up like Santa.” I’m not exactly sure if she believes Santa is a real person, or just a story, just as I’m not exactly sure if she believes that there really are fairies or not. I think she enjoys the idea of mystery and magic, and so I try to support that. I don’t say anything definitive, I mostly let her lead the way.

Of course, there are a lot of parents now who really do not want their kids believing in anything that isn’t real, and so have chosen to explain to them right from the start that there is no Santa, fairies, or the like. This is fine for them, but for me, I prefer to just let C’s imagination take her to the places that children like to go. I was a child who lived deeply in my imagination, and I want her to be able to develop and explore her own power of imagination too. Imaginativeness is a skill like any other, that children need time and space to develop.

What do I do when she asks me point blank, as she did last night, whether there really are mermaids living in the sea? I just tell her that I think that mermaids live in the sea in our imagination, which is a great thing. Her answer? “Oh, mummy! I think that in my imagination there are african mermaids too!” So, I guess it is working for her.

3 Responses to “Here come the holidays…”

  1. I was one of those parents who was anti-Santa (well, against the idea of lying to my child until she was old enough to figure it out.) However, after 3 years of me trying to explain that Santa was more of an idea of giving and generosity than an actual person, my child just said “I choose to believe that Santa is real.” and that was that. It’s like she knew that for her, understanding that spirit would be easier if she thought about Santa as a real person for a while.

  2. Oh Sarah, that is just such a great way of putting it! I think you are right that very young children sometimes have a much easier time understanding a concept when they can associate it with an actual concrete thing…er, not to refer to Santa as a “thing”, but you get my meaning:)

  3. Hi Justine,

    Izzy – nearly 6 – still believes in fairies and mermaids. When people tell her that they don’t really exist she just feels sorry for them. A couple years ago, when her beliefs were first challenged, I told her that no one had any recorded proof of fairies or mermaids, but proof is not necessary for belief. I love that she believes in magic and want to nurture her imagination as much as possible.

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