Zach has always been a person with a need to know people sincerely. He asks a lot of questions when he first meets someone and takes a great interest in keeping up friendships. He notices hurt feelings and reports them immediately to a grown up who can help (if he can't help them himself). He defends truth... which requires first seeking it.
I have answered more "Why?" questions since 2005 than I care to remember!!
By the time he was three, we'd prepared ourselves for his questions about this man with all the white hair, dressed in a fancy red suit, hanging out with elves and flying reindeer... who appears at malls, on TV and in print shortly after Halloween. Halloween - the time when we'd assured him that everyone coming to our door was simply a person in costume. How could we possibly switch it up and tell him that all these Santas were real?
Even more important... Did we want to lie to him? For Bryan, he remembers being crushed by the news that Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy were not real. For me, I just could not bring myself to tell him even the smallest of lies -- there are too many important things that I need him to accept on blind faith. God and safety issues being at the very top of that list! I couldn't risk blowing all of that on the myth of Santa Claus.
So, we have a story that we've been telling since Zach was little... I was just asked to tell it again last night.
It goes something like this:
Us: "There once was a man who gave gifts to children in his neighborhood who needed them. They didn't receive gifts based on naughty or nice, but based on their need and his heart to help them. Maybe he delivered the gifts on foot, horse back, or a horse drawn carriage..."
The kids: "No sleigh with flying reindeer?"
Us: "No... That is something fun that Mommies and Daddies added to the story to make it extra exciting. So... This nice man delivered a gift to each child who needed something. One gift. Not a big bag of gifts. He left them on their front porch; he did not come down the chimney. Isn't that chimney thing funny?!?!"
The kids: (laughing about Santa on the roof and burning his bottom as he comes down our chimney)
Us: "Other people heard what this man was doing and they started giving to people in need who lived around them. And that's how the tradition of Santa began... But it has obviously evolved into (an enormous marketing scheme) a time for parents to surprise their children with presents from 'Santa' - the fun, jolly, sly man who reportedly sneaks into homes after bedtime and leaves fun toys and stockings for all."
The kids: "Why do they say Santa lives at the North Pole?"
Us: "I'm not sure. Perhaps because this man lived far, far away from us... Maybe as far as the North Pole!
Me: "Zach, remember when you were asking me how many people we were shopping for, what they needed, what sizes and how old they were, and how much money we had left? You were helping us make the list and check it... over and over and over again."
Zach: "Oh my gosh... We're like their Santa!"
Me: "Yes... And God. God wants us to love one another and help those in need. He put this giving nature in your heart, Zachary. Not Santa."
"Happy is he who is gracious to the poor... He who is gracious to the needy honors Him [God]" Proverbs 14:21,31