Say what you will about Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson and her family. One thing's for sure: they are feeling the Christmas spirit. They recently bought $3,200 worth of toys for poor kids in their community with money donated by their fans. It's such a wonderful gesture and a great example to other children. Though it brings up a prickly problem for us parents. How do we teach our kids to donate gifts to less fortunate children during the holidays without ruining the Santa myth? It's a problem I recently faced with my own incredibly shrewd 4-year-old when I let it slip that we were buying gifts for others in need.
His immediate reaction? "But Santa buys Christmas presents," he said as a matter of fact. I swear a bead of sweat formed on my brow as I tried to figure out what to say. He is entirely too young to start questioning whether Santa is real. I want him to believe for years to come. That said, he's a smart kid. So I decided to tell him a half-truth.
I explained that Santa buys most of the gifts, but not all of them. He's so busy and has so many toys to give that mommies and daddies help Santa out and buy some gifts too. And because some children’s parents cannot afford to buy those extra gifts, we should help so that everyone has a nice Christmas.
Him: Why can’t they buy their kids gifts?
Me: Maybe they lost their jobs and don’t have money?
Me: Sometimes that happens.
Him: Can they buy food?
Me: Sometimes they don’t even have enough for food
Him: They can have some of my food and toys.
So yes, I let him know that parents are in on the gift-giving too and that seemed perfectly reasonable to him. He thinks it's cool that I am "Santa's helper" and that he can be too. He really likes the idea of making other kids happy at Christmas. I'm beyond proud that he is so caring. And to be honest, this makes things a heck of a lot easier going forward. Now if he sees a wrapped present before Christmas morning, he won't be so suspicious.
How do you explain gifts that aren't from Santa to your kids?
Image via TLC