My mum informs me that when I was a little girl she had to tell me that Father Christmas wasn’t real as apparently I was anxious about a big, fat man, dressed in red, coming into my room in the middle of the night. I guess that stands to reason. She also had to tell me that although bees made honey, they weren’t in honey. I was concerned by the picture of a bee on the front of the honey jar suggesting each lovely bite might be filled with a nasty after sting. Clearly, either a very literal child, or a child with a wild imagination! Turns out I’m a bit of both. In the last two years, Poppi has become more and more excited by the prospect of Christmas and everything that brings with it. In today’s society, it is so easy to get swept along by the paraphernalia of whatever the occasion…Halloween (seems to start in September), Valentines Day, Easter (which I’m sure marks the supermarket shelves just as the last advent calendar is cleared), whatever the festival, it is now everywhere. So, perhaps it isn’t that difficult to get excited by the prospect of Christmas, but how we can we use that to our advantage?
As a mum, I initially was of the opinion, “oh no, I mustn’t lie to my child about Father Christmas.” What will happen when they find out? They’ll never trust me again. However, as Poppi’s excitement grew, so did the magic for me. How could I burst her bubble? Of course, if she asked me outright “is Father Christmas real”, then I wouldn’t lie to her, but answer with “he may not be real but we can still use our imaginations”. At the moment, Poppi’s main concern is that we are at our house for Christmas morning in case Father Christmas can’t find her!
I think allowing a child’s imagination to flourish is so important. Things are so prescriptive these days and we disallow the magic of creativity or inspiration. Surely, this is how great thinkers are born? By allowing them to go all out and imagine the impossible. How would we ever go on holiday these days if the Wright brothers didn’t imagine getting humans into the air? How would we ever have conversations with people in another place if Alexandra Graham Bell hadn’t imagined the telephone? Whether Father Christmas is real or not in our child’s minds the magic of the imagination is very real. Poppi kinda knows fairies aren’t real (quick clap your hands if you believe), but that doesn’t stop her wanting to pretend and dress up anyway.
So often today we see kids stuck in front of a screen. I’m not saying that these games or programmes never have an element of creativity, but they are so much more dogmatic than good-old, make-believe role play. As you know I am passionate about play and creativity, so why not allow the magic of Father Christmas to fuel the imaginations of our little ones? Under no circumstances am I suggesting lying or avoiding the true meaning of Christmas, but I am advocating fun and creativity in a world which it is so easily pushed to the wayside.
Enjoy the magic.