Playing the Santa Card

For families who celebrate Christmas, the grip that December 25th, and specifically, Santa have on the minds of young children can be surprising. Take this recent exchange:

4 year old: "Mom, how many days until Christmas?"
Mother: "A long time. Three and a half months."
"But how many days?"
"I don't know, like 100?"
"Is that a lot?"
"Yes, I just told you it’s a long time. Why are you asking about this? We just started school."
"Because I can't wait until Christmas! Is it coming soon?"

Given the extraordinary power of the man in the red, fur-trimmed suit, it can be tempting to sometimes play the Santa card with a seemingly innocuous statement like, "I don't know, I think you might want to do a little be better job cleaning your room. Santa likes a clean room." Or, “Santa likes it when children eat all their green beans.” After all, visits from Santa can entail considerable effort on the part of a mother - why not try to get some cooperation and good listening out of it? Why not play the Santa card? And, more importantly, is September too early to start?

We leave our thoughtful, well-mannered readers to answer these questions as befits their own family dynamics. All we can say is, if and when you choose to "play the Santa card," do so with restraint, unless you are willing to go to elaborate lengths to back yourself up, as in this hilarious "Letter from Santa at your Birth."

What ever you do, don't invoke Santa in discussions of honesty: "Santa doesn't like children who lie!" Really. Dangerously hypocritical territory.


Anonymous said...

I used to play the Santa card all the time, until my 4 year old daughter freaked out. She is very intelligent and takes things literally. After several times telling her that Santa was watching she thought someone was actually watching her ALL the time. She totally flipped out. She wouldn't leave the house and was crazy. It ruined Christmas and we actually ended up at the psychiatrist. I will never tell my kids that Santa is watching again.


It is NEVER too early to play the Santa card. My darling middle child, who provides endless Facebook material for me, recently told me he was a little worried about Christmas this year...he and his brothers "haven't been *that* good this year." Ah, the powers of Santa. They are powerful. Use them wisely. Sort of like The Force in Star Wars.

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