With one adult son and two teenage sons, the days of everyone getting excited about a visit from old Santa Claus are now firmly in the past. But I have been clinging onto the joy that none of them has wanted to spoil it all for their little sister. She is the last bastion of belief in Father Christmas and I was certain that we would get a few more years of excitement to come.
Having said that, she will be nine next week. She is mature for her age and thinks carefully and logically about things, a bit of a super sleuth in the making. I have to accept with a tinge of sadness that this might be the final year of believing but I am still hanging on in there for as long as it lasts.
When she suddenly questioned it all, it took me a bit by surprise. We were sat at the table last weekend with my mum, making some Christmas decorations. She is super excited about the onset of the festive period as always and we were singing along to some festive favourite songs. “Is Christmas real, mum?” There it was, out of nowhere.
“What do you mean, is Christmas real?” was my quick response. “Of course Christmas is real.” My heart was pounding and I carried on decorating my Christmas bauble.
“Well, a boy in my class said that last year he saw his mum putting presents in his stocking and he knows that Father Christmas isn’t real.”
There it was. A shattering blow. I had to think quickly here.
“Sometimes Mums and Dads do add a few things to stockings, so that could have been what she was doing.” My daughter didn’t look convinced. She was looking at me expectantly. I had to pull out the big guns.
“If you don’t believe, you don’t receive.”
She looked a little confused. So I quickly explained that if you didn’t believe in Christmas and Father Christmas then maybe you wouldn’t receive any presents. A bit of a low blow really, thinking about it but I just want one or two more years with a child who really believes in the magic of Christmas.
I can’t take credit for the phrase either. A really good friend of mine uses it with her teenage kids and I liked it, it has a good ring to it. If you don’t believe, you won’t receive. Yes, I agree that it is a bit of a cop-out, but it seemed to do the trick for now at least.
Looking back, I really should have seen this conversation coming. My daughter has discovered a love of the American TV show Friends this year and there is one episode where Joey tells Phoebe that Santa doesn’t exist. At the time, I held my breath waiting for a reaction from my daughter but she didn’t say anything. We also made up some shoe boxes a few weeks ago, filled with gifts for a local organisation who ship them to children who have very little. My daughter said that she didn’t understand why Father Christmas didn’t visit them when they needed the presents more than anyone. That was a tricky one to explain.
In many ways, the most important thing about Christmas is spending time together as a family. I hope that I have always emphasised this and that although the presents are a lovely part of Christmas, it isn’t all about receiving. As long as we do enjoy our Christmases together as a family, there will always be some magic, but I do still want to cling onto the magic of Father Christmas at least once more before we close that chapter of family life for the final time.