“What did Santa bring you?” was the question I heard right after Christmas break ended in my first-grade classroom. I sat in my chair, listening to two little seven-year-old girls discuss what they did on their time away from school. I smiled as I heard them talk about spending time with family and baking cookies for Santa. Then the big question came out: What did Santa bring you? My heart sank, scared of whether the conversation would go into whether or not Santa was real or whether it was going to be the dreaded comparison of gifts.
Luckily, I breathed a sigh of relief when the conversation went away from whether or not Santa was real, but that moment of relief went quickly into sadness when I heard the two girls comparing gifts. One received the latest iPad, and the other girl received a new winter coat. The little girl that received the coat sat there, silent for a moment. I could only imagine the thoughts running through her mind.
“Why did I not get a cool gift like that?”
“Was I naughty this year?”
“Why doesn’t Santa love me as much?”
“Is Santa even real?”
Although I can’t know for sure what was going on in her mind, it changed my perspective with my own kids. I decided to make my kids’ Santa gifts small from that year on. Does that mean that I will still buy them some expensive gifts? Sure. But those gifts will come from my husband and me. Last Christmas, my kids received a play kitchen, but it came from us. Santa brought them a wooden construction crane toy and a construction vehicle. And guess what? They were thrilled!
It’s a change of mindset for sure. For generations, the “big gift” always came from Santa. But let’s be real, we have been lying to our kids for years explaining how he can fit one million dollhouses in his sled. Let’s make that part of the magic a little simpler, as one million dolls are much more plausible. I know any way you look at it, the magical story is a bit far-fetched, but you understand the point I’m trying to make.
Do you remember when you found out that Santa wasn’t real? For most of us, it was something another kid told you on the bus, and it was devastating. It is much different having an 11-year old stop believing compared to a six-year old. Think of giving that six-year old five more years of joy, happiness, and magic of the holiday season. You won’t regret thinking about how you made the other kids in your child’s classroom feel when gifts are of comparable value.
I know Christmas gifts can’t be equal across the world, but we can do our part to make Santa gifts small and save the big gifts from Mom and Dad. Why not let the magic live longer in kids? Why not take the credit for the big, elaborate, and expensive gifts? Kids don’t get to be kids as long as we would hope, so let’s make a motion to keep Santa gifts small so all can believe just a little longer.