Come Christmastime, three kinds of parents emerge. The “fantastic” ones perpetuate the Santa Claus myth: that he is real and alive, and that he would leave a big gift under the tree while managing not to wake you or the kids up on Christmas Eve -- provided the tots were nice all year round, of course.
Then there are the realists. Santa Claus is Saint Nicholas, and through time, his legend has permutated to become a Western symbol for commercial activity and merry holiday festivity. He is known for his generosity and kindness towards children, but no, he doesn’t come a-sleighing down from the night sky with reindeer to deliver you goodies.
The last is the repentant group of parents -- those whose children are too old to be fooled or those who are scared of being caught red-handed and have decided to come clean. This is the year they are going to shatter their children’s holiday fantasies (unless, of course, the kids have known all along, but the charade had just been too good to pass up).
If you find yourself belonging to any of the three groups, prepare to be questioned—and so as not to leave you dodging them, we enlist the help of a child psychologist (as well as your favorite celebrities) to give you sensible ways to answer. Now, take heed!
IF YOU ENCOURAGE THE BELIEF IN SANTA…
Kid query # 1: “Why is Santa so fat? Doesn’t he take care of his health?” Aida Maria Perez, Ph.D., developmental psychologist and school principal at DBC Child Learning Center, Inc., advises you to say: “Santa would like to take care of his health, but he’s just too busy watching children doing well in school and at home.”
Tintin Bersola-Babao, TV host, and mom to Anya, 8, and Nio, 4, says: “Funny that Anya has never asked me this. But if she does, perhaps I would say, ‘Maybe he didn’t have time to exercise because he was too busy delivering gifts to kids like you!’ or ‘Santa’s belly fat helps keep him warm in the North Pole.’”
Kid query # 2: “Why does Santa have to sneak in at night? Doesn’t he want to meet me?” Dr. Perez advises you to say: “Well, that’s the exciting part. He wants to give you a surprise and watch you open your gift to see if you are happy with it. Maybe there will come a time when you can meet him face to face.” (And that’s the time when you can spill the truth about Santa—i.e., you!)
G Töngi-Walters, actress, mom to Sakura, 8, and Kenobi, 6, says: “I’d tell them, ‘There are other children whom Santa needs to deliver gifts to, so he has no time to socialize.’ My kids have a direct line to Santa via their ‘Elf on the Shelf’ so they can relay messages to him directly.”
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Kid query # 3: “Why are there so many Santa copycats? How do I know which is the real one?” Dr. Perez advises you to say: “Santa copycats are there to multiply the fun. It’s difficult to say who the real Santa is if they are all wearing costumes, but the real Santa Claus is the one who has a good heart.”
Jodi Sta. Maria, actress, would tell her son, Thirdy, 7: “Better if you ask them yourself, ‘Are you the real Santa Claus?’”