I've never been a huge fan of encouraging Camden to believe in Santa. In fact, it's always been a source of tension for me. Why? Because I want the focus of Christmas to be on the real "reason for the season" - the birth of Jesus. And Santa kind of conflicts with that... In my opinion. So, while I've never really discouraged his belief, I've never really encouraged it, either. Sure, Santa has always brought him a couple things (but not much), and we have on occasion put out milk and cookies, but that's about it. I spend my energy on trying to teach Camden about the spirit of giving (not getting...) and about Jesus. I have been waiting and waiting for him to ask about Santa b/c I have a policy of not lying to him (which is just another reason I don't like this whole pretending that Santa exists thing...). So, he FINALLY asked. We were running errands, so we talked briefly (I did the whole "What do YOU think?" when he asked if I believed Santa was real) and told Camden we would discuss it more at home.
What led to this discussion is him bringing up The Polar Express movie and wondering about the boy who said Santa hadn't visited him before (the poor boy in the movie, not the main character). He wondered if Santa really didn't visit some kids or what that was really all about. So, we sat down with Camden last night, armed with brownies and ice cream (ok, that was more for me...) - and it all came out. (I am SO relieved!) I expected him to know what might be coming since we put off the discussion until we were at home and since we asked him "If Santa weren't real, would you want to know?" (To which he answered yes.) But he didn't put two and two together until we outright told him. We explained where the idea came from, who St. Nicholas was, etc. At first he was a little mad that parents lie to their kids about the whole Santa thing (which I totally get). We explained many of the reasons that parents pretend about Santa, and I think he got it. We looked up more about St. Nicholas, and he was really interested in the truth behind him, which was pretty cool.
But what was he REALLY upset about?? The same thing from earlier the same day... When he first brought up the whole "poor boy thinking Santa forgot him" - he got really upset and was crying. He thought it was awful that some kids would feel that they got overlooked by Santa. And this was still bothering him. He was upset about this all night - about the kids who get so little or nothing at all. Now, he doesn't get much either. Part of it has been b/c of money, yes. Being a single mom in college - you don't have a lot to spend. But I also don't agree with splurging even if you have it - kind of takes away from the real meaning. But back to the story... He hated realizing that some kids really don't get much and that they might think that Santa just didn't stop at their house. He thought it was so sad and felt really badly for those children. He was upset all night and had such a hard time going to sleep.
I reminded him about how he gives to a child each year to help with this. At his school, they have a "Dolphin Tree" (their mascot is a dolphin), and he picks out a child and buys them a gift with his own "charity" money that he has saved up. I explained to him that while it is sad that many children are worse off, instead of focusing on what they don't get and simply feeling sad about it, it is better to do something and try to make it better for some. So then he got upset because we only signed up for one child this year. When I told him we could do more, he was upset b/c he didn't have enough money in his charity money for this. I explained we could help with that. I mean, this is the point I want him to get!! And he's getting it. Regardless of how much or how little we have, I want him to learn to give to others and consider those less fortunate - and not just to consider them but to DO SOMETHING about it.
I love that my child has such a big heart. It nearly broke my heart seeing him so very upset and crying over children he doesn't even know, over a character in a movie. He kept wondering why they would put such a character in the movie b/c it is too sad. And I think this is one reason why. I'm so proud of Camden right now. We had such a great talk, and I'm glad that the biggest thing that came from it has nothing to do with finding out that Santa isn't real but that it has to do with caring about those less fortunate. I had many "proud mama" moments last night.
Oh, and when asked if he thinks we should teach Aiden whether or not there is a Santa, Camden thinks we should not. This is another reason we have wanted Camden to find out - b/c we weren't sure we wanted to keep it up and teach Aiden there was a Santa. It's nice to have the opinion of a child that just found out b/c, honestly, I forget what I felt when I first realized it. Sure, we can still have fun and pretend, but I would rather my children have a little fun with that while focusing on what Christmas is really about. Like Camden said, "so that really is why it's called Christmas - CHRIST!"