LP came home from school the other day and said that some of her classmates were being mean. They’d said that Father Christmas didn’t exist.
LP was upset. Not upset because Christmas had been ruined forever more but upset because she didn’t know why they were being so mean. She said they were lying and that she definitely believes in Father Christmas, after all, he eats the mince pie she leaves out every Christmas Eve and when she wakes up on Christmas morning there are presents left for her under the tree.
LP is seven and her whole life revolves around her imagination and little bits of magic in everyday life. From the magic of an Easter Egg hunt to listening to the Greatest Showman soundtrack for the billionth time. Magic is everywhere when you’re LP and so Christmas for her is a pivotal part of the year – just as it is for the rest of our family and many, many families across the country. We love Christmas, we look forward to it and it’s the one time of the year you can really just get pushed along in the Christmas spirit and the magic of it all. Christmas is a wonderful time to be alive and it’s a wonderful time to be a child who believes.
But, then there are children who don’t believe. There are children who have been told by their parents, older siblings or other kids in the playground that Father Christmas doesn’t exist and so some of them make it a mission to shatter the magic for everyone else. For them, Christmas is no more than material things wrapped under the tree, ready to be opened and played with on Christmas day. It’s no longer about Father Christmas, reindeers, magic reindeer feed, carrots and mince pies left out on Christmas eve or magic keys left by the front door.
But that’s just it. Once you know the truth about Father Christmas it’s your duty to keep the magic alive for everyone else for as long as possible. The truth about Father Christmas is a secret that so many people hold close because they know how wonderful it is to believe – how wonderful it is to wake up on Christmas morning and race down the stairs to see if he’s been. They know that feeling of anticipation, of being good, of knowing that Father Christmas is watching and of really hoping that he’ll bring them that thing on top of their Christmas list. They know how wonderful it is to have a little bit of magic in your life.
I remember being a young child and trying to stay awake as long as possible to see Father Christmas leaving a sack of presents in my room. I never managed to stay awake but one year I remember hearing sleigh bells so vividly. Even now I am sure I heard them but my parents always insisted they never rang any bells – or heard any bells ringing. I am sure, back then, that those bells were just part of the Christmas magic of really, truly believing.
I never had a conversation with my parents about Father Christmas. A time came when I knew he didn’t exist but it wasn’t a big thing or one instance that led to that – it was just a gradual realisation over time and for me that was the best way for it to be. Despite that, Father Christmas still came every year until I moved out of home. We would talk about what Father Christmas would bring, presents would appear under the tree in the lead up to Christmas and on Christmas morning I would open them. We never had a conversation about who bought, wrapped and delivered the presents – we just enjoyed Christmas, wrapped ourselves up in it and spoke often about Father Christmas. Whether he existed or not was irrelevant – everything he symbolised was so much more important.
I love Christmas and looking back now I still love those family Christmases, they were some of my favourite parts of my childhood and I know that my own children are having the same kind of Christmases I had. One full of festive spirit, lovely food, friends, family, Father Christmas and just a little big of Christmas magic. And I don’t want that to be spoilt for them, I want them to have that same bubble of Christmas joy throughout their childhood.
So if your child stops believing and you decide to talk to them about it or they bring it up in conversation, make sure they know how important it is to keep the secret of Father Christmas, to not believe if they don’t want to but to let other people believe for as long as they want to – and as long as they can, after all, everyone stops believing at some point.
It would be really nice of them to keep that secret, to not tell other children about Father Christmas and instead help to keep the magic alive for other children just that little bit longer. There really isn’t that much magic in life – so let’s hold onto every little bit of magic we have left and have a lovely, lovely Christmas.