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Talk to me about Father Christmas please

(36 Posts)
DitaVonCheese Wed 19-Oct-11 20:33:16

I'm editor of our local NCT newsletter and am putting together the winter/Christmas issue. As usual, my appeal to local mums for stuff for articles has come to naught so I'm hitting MN and claiming you're local NCTers instead wink

I'm doing an article about Father Christmas - I have to admit I'm in the it's-weird-to-lie-to-your-kids camp but we do currently have FC and I know my outlook isn't particularly festive so I guess I'm asking you to tell me about how you do FC in your house: do you go the whole hog to fool your kids keep the magic alive with glittery oatmeal and phone calls from the big man or is it all a bit more half-hearted than that? Do you fall out with your in-laws because you want all presents to be marked from Santa or does he just leave a tangerine and a bag of chocolate coins? Please give me some Christmassy stuff!

TIA smile

gaunyerseljeannie Wed 19-Oct-11 20:35:49

We follow Santa on the Norad website all day on Christmas Eve!! Modern stuff eh?!

OliviaTwist Wed 19-Oct-11 20:42:18

We are firmly in the it's-weird-to-lie-to-your-kids camp. DD is 3 this Xmas so the first time she really 'gets' Xmas. I just can't bring myself to lie to her - it's just weird! I keep hearing stories at work of people whose kids still believe at 11 or so and I think WTF??

DitaVonCheese Wed 19-Oct-11 20:57:00

Oh I love Norad! Norad makes me feel all Christmassy and excited!

Olivia glad it's not just me. We do currently have FC because DH disagrees with me but I hate hate lying to her. We have started discussing things like whether the Gruffalo is real so am hoping to go that route if that makes sense. What do you do? Do you have FC/stockings etc at all? We had them as kids and I used to write letters to Santa/leave out sherry etc despite knowing from very young that it wasn't true - it was all just a fun game regardless of the truth.

This was all sparked off for me by a friend's nephew who still believed at 11 - his parents had to sit him down and talk to him about it. They were amazed that he still believed in it but he just said "It never occurred to me that you would lie to me" sad

bunnyspoiler Wed 19-Oct-11 20:57:52

He vets the wishlists and brings the stockings only, and if you don't believe he won't come! we keep it lighthearted. DD has never believed but goes along with it to humour us.

OliviaTwist Wed 19-Oct-11 21:06:21

When we were little we used to put out a pillow case for presents and a carrot for Rudolph, but we never 'believed' in FC and he never bought presents - they were from Mum & Dad. Never had stockings. Wrote present list from Argos catalogue for Mum, not FC!

LordOfTheFlies Wed 19-Oct-11 21:28:24

My DC will be 12 and 9.6 by Christmas and I can honestly say they twigged very early on about Father Christmas.

I've never heard of an 11yo still believing in FC. I think there's a bit of chain-yanking going on.

Mine 'play along' with it to keep the magic going, but they've known since they were 5 or so.I had to tell DS not to spoil it for his younger sister, let her work it out herself.

DitaVonCheese Wed 19-Oct-11 21:55:22

Lord apparently the 11 yo was very serious and literal and just took things as they were presented to him without questioning them too much. They lying-to-your-kids vs spoiling-the-magic-of-childhood debate generally comes up every year on MN and I'm sure there have been a few other 11+ who still believed.

One of my colleagues spent several thousand quid on a three day jaunt to Lapland for her daughter because she was starting to question it and she wanted to convince her for another couple of years - think the DD in question was 9 but maybe it was 7. Still weird though I think.

Listzilla Thu 20-Oct-11 10:21:51

I was 10, I think, when my parents had to sit me down and explain it to me; as in the case of the OP's nephew, it just hadn't occurred to me that two people who were so emphatic about how awful lying was would do it themselves.

I can't say I held it against them for very long though, and it didn't traumatise me enough to put me off having Santa for our kids. It's too magical an experience to miss.

Yama Thu 20-Oct-11 11:34:48

Firstly, he's called Santa Claus here (in Scotland).

No fall outs. People who have put thought into a gift should get to give that gift.

Santa brings a few small presnts for the dc.

On the run up to Christmas I like to watch the Time Allen Santa Claus films as well as Elf and whatever ones are on the tv. Santa sends the dc a video email. When dh puts the kids to bed on Christmas Eve they look out of the window to see if they can see a sleigh in the sky.

I admit, it's probably far more exciting for us adults than the dc. Can't wait.

tigerlillyd02 Thu 20-Oct-11 23:30:49

My little one will be 2 this year and I've already started talking to him about Santa. And yes, I'll be lying to him the whole way lol. I have the most amazing memories as a child of Christmas and remembering the feelings of excitement and the magical feel to it - I'd like that for him too so may go a bit overboard. We always remember the true meaning of Christmas too and that it's not all about Santa. We give to charities etc also and make shoebox hampers which my lo will be helping me with this year - I will be emphasising to remember how lucky we are to be able to have so much.

So, with that, I will be going the whole hog to make it seem as 'real' as possible. All my presents to my lo will be marked from santa, but I don't mind at all what other family members choose to write.

DitaVonCheese Fri 21-Oct-11 22:55:35

Yama I thought people would jump up and down and tell me off if I said Santa instead of FC - always thought it was an Americanisation for some reason.

tigerlilly are you planning to tell him at some point or keep up the pretence for as long as possible? Won't he wonder (at some point, unless he's a particularly advanced 2 yo wink) why he doesn't get any presents from you and his dad?

For those of you who didn't really do the whole FC thing, did you actually tell your DC it wasn't true or did you just wait for them to catch on? I feel (irrationally) too mean to do the former so am going for the latter. I am hoping that DD will just eventually work out from our tone etc that it's a game, not a real thing (she is just getting the hang of when something is serious or a joke atm smile).

TelephoneTree Fri 21-Oct-11 23:10:43

You wouldn't believe the goings on in this house....

A christmas elf comes on the 1st december and just appears. At night she goes back to FC and reports on what the kids seem to like playing with so that he can set to work to make some stuff in his work shop. The kids can talk to her but not touch her. Every morning she reappears in a different place and they have to find her. Sometimes she leaves notes, ideas of activities to do, sometimes nothing and sometimes a little book or other very small surprise (e.g. cookie cutter or something the kids can do something christmassy too).

The kids can write a letter to FC and leave it in the fireplace and it will whizz up the chimney to him when no-one is looking. He will reply either by royal mail or via elfie where it is left in a tiny 'christmas tin' when she comes back in the morning.

Christmas eve - throw oats out in to the garden for the reindeer and snack for FC, bath time by candle light and new PJs and book left by elfie (discovered after bath) before she shoots off one last time....

FC comes only when they're alseep and only stocking presents and all must be individually wrapped up and only 'little things' e.g £2 and under

DitaVonCheese Fri 21-Oct-11 23:22:34

Tree that sounds ace grin Is that the elf on the shelf thing? I've read about that before but previously only seen it described as an elf-sees-everything-you-do-and-reports-back-so-you'd-better-be-good thing which I found a bit sinister/blackmaily confused

Love the idea of Christmas activities - saw an idea which was like an activity advent calender with a different Christmassy thing to do each day eg decorate tree etc. Not sureif I can think of 24 different Christmassy things though (but might start a whole new thread wink)

Actually I might have to get an elf/angel I am so smitten with this idea. DD would love looking for her every day.

addictediam Fri 21-Oct-11 23:33:55

tigerlilly are you planning to tell him at some point or keep up the pretence for as long as possible? Won't he wonder (at some point, unless he's a particularly advanced 2 yo ) why he doesn't get any presents from you and his dad?

i know i'm not tigerlilly, but i just wanted to answer this point!

my parents let us believe in santa for as long as it took us to twig. i honestly cant believe when that was! but i do remember thinking at around the age of 6 and then having a conversation with my parents along the lines of - it was a good job there was a santa as my parents were really poor and otherwise we wouldnt get any presents! we did however get an 'after dinner present' and this was from my parents

dd is 11mo (with dc2 on the way) and i will be doing the same with her - letting her believe for aslong as she wants, and then encouraging her to go along with it to humor me keep the magic alive for dc2

VoldemortsNipple Sat 22-Oct-11 10:04:18

tree your house sounds like mine except my elf is more "the elf is watching" kind of elf. My dcs don't actually believe anymore, the youngest is 9. the elf will still visit though, he's part of our tradition.

The saying in this house was always if you don't believe you dont receive. This was to stop older children spoiling it for the younger ones.

My answer to Ds2 when he stopped believing in fc was that I believe in the magic of Christmas and fc is part of that magic. Therefore I can't be accused of lying to him.

Fc always brought all the presents from myself and dh, but dcs knew that we had to pay for them. Family members give dcs their presents personally, so dcs know they have bought them.we also place presents for family members under the tree before Christmas so dcs know we have to buy some presents.

grumpypants Sat 22-Oct-11 10:18:28

FC leaves stockings on beds, to be opened in the morning. Last year he also left a Wii (in our room, to avoid ownership problems!). I think its weird to say he brings everything - after lunch we open presents from family and friends. We leave sherry and mince pies for Santa on Xmas Eve. Absolutely no 'don't believe, don't receive' - i fully expect the older ones not to tell, and i have explained to them that they will not be doing that.
when the oldest dc guessed, we sat down and i explained to her about the exisitence of te original father christmas, and that after his death it was the job of mums and dads to keep the kindness going. she quite liked that, and it linked fantasy to reality.

Trills Sat 22-Oct-11 10:21:48

My general Father Christmas feeling:

1 - There's a difference between lying and playing games.

2 - Any adult who is worried about keeping the magic going probably has children who already know the truth and are pretending because they can see how much it means to their parents.

3 - All presents coming from Father Christmas is bad for teaching children to be grateful and to say thank you. HEes just as magical if he brings one present, or if he brings the stocking.

gregssausageroll Sat 22-Oct-11 10:31:56

In our house the stocking comes from Santa. We don't say Father Christmas. All other presents come from us.

We do a hamper on Christmas Eve with new jammies, dvd and may be bubble bath which I leave with my neighbour and I ask her to leave it on the step and ring the bell just before bathtime so DS can answer the door.

I want Christmas to be as magical as I can for DS. Having had a shit upbringing where I was told there was no such thing as Santa pretty much from day dot and having no memories of Christmas at all I want his younger years to be special so if that means glitter with oats outside, playing the game, hampers on Christmas eve then so be it.

DS has many years ahead of him when he will know.

gregssausageroll Sat 22-Oct-11 10:33:57

He is 3 BTW.

ShowOfHands Sat 22-Oct-11 10:38:37

I think 'lying' is a bit strong. But I think that's because in this house it's seen as story telling, no more, no less and then dd takes from it what she wants. In the same way that I would no more sit at a magic show declaring 'they're tricking you dd, don't listen', I have never entered into a discussion about FC being a 'lie'. It's not a lie, it's a story.

That said, I do wonder at the sense in pinning the celebration of Christmas so much on the jolly, fat man and desperately trying to string it out/worrying that the magic could die. Because the magic of Christmas isn't about that one aspect. And I don't mean in a sanctimonious or smug way that children who believe are somehow oblivious to the other sides of Christmas but that it's falsely championed as the focus of Christmas when it's such a lovely opportunity to celebrate so much more.

Because FC is a 'story' (DD doesn't believe it to be literally true at all, never has), we also cover other aspects and stories. So dd hears stories of Yule and Pagans and Christianity and St Nick and Baboushka etc. And smug as I seem to sound when I talk about it, if you ask her about Christmas, at 4yo, the joy she takes from it is rarely about presents. She will wax lyrical about the stories and the songs, about seeing her family, about the traditions which have sprung up. We go to a friend's house to pick up logs and help clear out their stables as payment (dd gets a certificate to say she's a qualified stable elf, allowed to care for FC's reindeers if the need arises and she thinks it's brilliant). We bag up toys of hers (of her choosing) and clothes to give to the local shelter for other families, we go and volunteer at the soup kitchen (we do this throughout winter), we sing carols, go and look for Jack Frost, make decorations, make salt dough gifts for family, make up stories, dd puts on 'plays', we jingle bells outside her bedroom door and she pretends she doesn't know it's us. We do hang up a stocking and dd will get a few presents 'from fc' but most presents are from friends and family and dd has always known this. She also knows the fc presents are from us.

I never believed in FC either but I adored the magic and story telling and entered into the spirit of things. I loved and love Christmas.

Cartoonjane Sat 22-Oct-11 10:41:01

Its so comforing to hear that people feel like I do about the lying aspect of it all. One of my friends feels the same and i didnt think I would, i thouht I'd just see it as a story but when I actually come to say it all I have found it really difficult because it feels like a lie. Having said that I do go along with it because its part of childhood and DP disagrees with me. I dont go the whole hog though and respond to quite a few of DD's questions with "What do you think?"

ShowOfHands Sat 22-Oct-11 10:41:22

Oh we have a master elf visit btw. He comes on Christmas Eve while we're out visiting friends/walking/looking at the town lights. He leaves a parcel with hot chocolate, marshmallows, a book to read, new pjs and bubble bath/a flannel and a note wishing dd a Happy Christmas and a good night's sleep in case one of the stable elves falls ill and she has to step in and help out.

snailoon Sat 22-Oct-11 10:56:31

I don't think the magic of Christmas necessarily has anything to do with FC. In our family, it is homemade ornaments and wreaths (worked on for weeks), lots of candles, singing carols Christmas eve, special food, messages of love, and generous piles of presents. The magic should be something that can't be destroyed by discovering the truth, and I think, should depend on family traditions.
I could never tell kids that FC exists and "trick" them, but you can still have lots of fun with cookies, oats, stockings etc, just why can't it be done with a little sense of "maybe it's true, and maybe not" slightly tongue in cheek.

I don't get parents who think I'm going to "ruin the magic" by telling kids old enough to ask, that FC doesn't literally exist. Is there no magic in life if you don't believe in faeries, mermaids, FC etc? That is sad.

SHOWOFHANDS said it better than I did, and Christmas at her house sounds amazing, very magical.

bytheMoonlight Sat 22-Oct-11 11:18:35

On Christmas Eve the elves bring dd's new pyjamas and their new dresses which they will wear Christmas day - along with 'the night before Christmas book which father Christmas looks after all year as it's his special book.

We leave a mince pie out, a carrot and a glass beer. We also follow Norad.

Father Christmas fills the stockings, brings a present for the girls to share and a leaves a present under the tree for them each. If he wasn't to bring presents what would be the point of writing a Christmas letter to Father Christmas? Might as well just tell us what they want.

We leave a mince pie out, a carrot and a glass beer on

DD1 was just 3 last year and loved the magic and the stories. I couldn't deny her that just so I was able to say to her 'I never lied to you'. As an adult I think she would prefer the memories of a magical christmas over the knowledge I never lied to her. I think she would prefer me to lie tbh.

It is by far the best time of year for me, I get butterflies thinking of the excitment on dd1s and that's because of the fuss my mum made when I was little and how perfect she made it for me. I so want to re create that for my children.

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