At nearly three it’s the first year that Tilly has been reasonably aware of Christmas, yet it’s by no means been certain that our bright and rational little girl would accept the magical idea that is Father Christmas.
It’s fair to say that we’ve been wholly unsure how to manage Christmas traditions this year. Tilly loves to pretend but doesn’t seem to actually suspend her disbelief; even from being a baby she’d pull puppets off my hand to see the hand beneath. While she’s extremely sociable at times she can also become anxious about situations or ideas she’s presented with.
While I bought into the idea of Father Christmas as a child, my wife realised at a very early age how it worked. Being more like my wife there’s some expectation Tilly might do similarly.
We also weren’t at all sure how Tilly would react to the idea of someone coming down the chimney into our house, so we played Christmas gently, going to loads of seasonal events but letting Tilly lead how strongly we went with the Santa idea.
One thing that quickly became clear was that she was not doing a visit to Santa’s grotto. Venue after venue we visited and she was resolute in not seeing Santa. I eventually engineered a meeting with the big man on the local steam railway that runs Santa Specials throughout December weekends.
Tilly was curious to see Santa but was shy when he sat opposite; understandably enough, I suppose. While she took the gift she was given, I failed to get her to respond to any of the suggested ideas about what Santa does at Christmas.
Throughout December we watched no shortage of Santa-based films, yet at no point did Tilly ask if he’d be visiting us or bringing her presents. Rather than force the issue, in case she was unsure about it, we just mentioned Santa periodically in the run up to the big day, still without much reception.
Come Christmas Day and our daughter, full of cold, opened her presents with interest, but no amazement at their provenance. Indeed a few days later when asked about Santa bringing her presents, Tilly had said that they’d come from mummy and daddy.
This begs the question in my mind: have we failed in our roles as parents in conjuring the Santa myth or is she still too young or simply to sharp to buy into magic?
We simply don’t know. Next Christmas should hopefully be more telling as being at pre-school will likely hype the season up as never before. Perhaps we’ll be doing grottos galore, mince pies, sherry and sooty footprints or perhaps she’ll remain as logical as ever. Time will tell!