December 09, 2020

Kidsplaining Christmas

Christmas isn’t the same holiday for everyone. Some of my clients embrace it as a time of joy and merriment, filling their homes with boughs of holly, nutcrackers, and the sound of sleigh bells. Others become nostalgic or downright sad at Christmas, remembering things and people past and counting the days until January. But there is one category of person for whom Christmas is almost universally positive: children. 

Make no mistake of it—children also perceive stress and loss, at Christmas as at all other times. But despite the realities of life to which they are not at all oblivious, Christmas is, through a child’s eyes, a time of enchantment and hope. After all, the climax of the season sees a centuries-old elfin saint climb into a deer-powered sleigh and fly through the night distributing millions of presents to every child on Earth. What’s not to love?

As we contemplate the challenges past and present from 2020 into the future, I encourage you to tune into the frequency of the children in your life this holiday season. Children’s explanations as to how Santa makes his journey are a balm for the soul of even the most grizzled non-believer. (And if you don’t celebrate Christmas for religious or personal reasons, reflect on any traditions in your life that involve something like magic; I promise you, you have some.)

Take, for example, nine-year-old Gia and eleven-year-old Enzo, who were overheard by their mother (a dear friend) debating the logistics of the Christmas Eve flight. The conversation went like this:

“Santa can’t possibly visit every house in one night,” said Enzo. “Get real. That’s millions of square miles. It doesn’t make logical sense.”

“It does so make sense,” Gia retorted. “He bends the space-time continuum. It’s physics.”

Another client intercepted a letter from her eight-year-old son Dean to Santa after teasing from school friends led to doubts about Santa’s existence. In the letter, Dean resolved the conflict in favor of belief, as follows:

“I know you don’t actually fly on a sleigh. That was the old school way. Now that the planet is over-populated, I figured out that you hypnotize all the parents and make them buy the presents for you. You’re a genius.”

He went on to ask for a new bike. 

Children are adaptable, resilient, and preternaturally positive. We can and should learn a lot from them. At Christmastime, we are given the gift of a child’s vantage on life—one open to myriad marvels and delights. Pay attention to your children this holiday season. Ask them to share their perspectives, then listen with curiosity and no judgment. In their sweet voices is the real holiday magic—not just in December, but the whole year through.