I dithered about allowing Boy Three to go to his after school club’s Christmas Party – and here’s why…
|Claus for concern pic: Kevin Dooley via Flickr|
It’s supposed to be magical. Children waiting for the kindly, bearded chap to deliver their heart’s desire into an old sock on Christmas Eve. Then they ooh and aah about how lucky they are and play peacefully until it’s time for the sprouts…
Boy Three is seven years old – arguably the best years for the full-effect of festive fantasy. He’s old enough to join the confusing bits together and young enough to believe in it all. Or so we’d hoped. Cliched but true – most of the point of this time of year is the look on their tiny awe-struck upturned-faces.
Only at the end of last year he asked me whether Santa was real. “Of course,” I replied outraged and instantly forgetting my promise to tell my kids the truth where ever possible.
Part of the blame for his doubt may well lie with his big brothers’ careless talk but some, must, I’m sure, be with Father Christmas himself. Or should I say themselves.
It used to be that a trip to Santa’s Grotto was a gigantic treat reserved for the fortunate few. Or so it seemed to me. There certainly were far fewer chances to queue up to sit on the big fella’s knee while you whispered your secret desires.
These days every department store, community fayre, country park and garden centre plays host to Father Christmas and his elfin entourage. It becomes increasingly difficult to steer a curious child – especially one who can now read – away from a high-volume discussion about why it’s not possible to see Him this time.
If you think about the progress technology has made between my childhood and Boy Three’s, it make’s it even worse. I was about his age before I realised the Thunderbirds were actually puppets.
Nowadays, what was once miraculous is now mundane – and that’s what children expect. Their toys have more special effects than the movies we grew up with. Think about it, FaceTime on a pocket-sized screen whenever you feel like it, is nothing short of space-age, yet we’re all used to it already.
How, then, do we begin to expect bright and observant youngsters to believe that the fat chap in an evidently fake beard is the actual FC himself? And, equally, once they’ve clocked that at the same time he’s at the school fete, the shopping centre and pretty much everywhere else we might visit, how are they expected to sort that out?
It’s enough of a push to explain deliveries to every child in the world on one night by one person – unless it’s by Amazon drone – but, at least, he has magical reindeer.
If the idea is to keep our children as innocent and credulous for as long as possible, then we need to clamp down on this army of imposter Santas. Their beards and bellies must be banned along with the rest of the badly executed hokum.
Maybe it’s time to take a leaf out of Disney’s book. On every park, there’s only ever one Micky at large at a time. If we must, then licence Santa so there’s only one every 20 miles and, even then, only if they’ve passed the plausibility test.
Ho ho ho!