Appreciating Santa at Any Age
November 25th, 2016 by Sharon Naylor


Carry on the spirit of the jolly red elf even after the youthful wonderment fades

When kids are little, they glow with the anticipation of Santa’s arrival, perhaps sitting with glee on Santa’s knee for photos. But as they get a bit older, there is a different feel to the holidays as their sense of wonder about Santa Claus changes.

How do you keep the spirit of Santa in your holiday celebrations when the magic of St. Nick fades?

The key is to help children’s appreciation of Santa evolve into an appreciation for what Santa represents: joy, giving, family togetherness and kindness.

During the weeks leading up to the holiday, sit down and talk about the meaning of the holiday season—a spirit that can stay in the heart all year long.

Ask your child to list the values Santa represents, and share your list. Take each value—such as giving—and have the child list ways he or she can exemplify that value.

For instance, your child may think of giving holiday gifts to a children’s hospital or nursing home, or collecting his or her outgrown toys to donate to charity, all in the Santa-inspired sense of giving.
Here are some values to inspire you:

  • Kindness. Create a holiday tradition of leaving complimentary notes for members of your family. Your child can do something kind for a sibling, parent, neighbor or friend.
  • Family togetherness. If your child is old enough to participate in family holiday gatherings, such as Christmas Eve dinner, invite him or her to help create the dinner menu, design place cards or make a list of holiday songs to play.
  • Joy. Encourage your child to write in a holiday joy journal, listing the things he or she is grateful for and what brought joy that day. The journal might be a great place for your child to list how he or she brought joy to someone else that day.
  • Giving. Give your child the opportunity to learn the art and value of giving to others. Make him or her responsible for choosing gifts for each member of the family, thinking about what each person might like, shopping with you and wrapping the presents. Gifts do not need to be expensive. At present-giving time, your child sees the recipient’s joy.

“Christmas is one of the most important celebrations for Christians around the world, but it can also be one of the most stressful,” says Debby Mayne, etiquette expert at “Between the crowded shopping malls and people’s expectations, we all run the risk of feeling let down, which can lead to tension and bad behavior. Avoid letting this happen by taking breaks to think about what the holiday is truly about.”

Children also can join in decorating the house, buying or, even better, making holiday ornaments and decorations—which may become gifts for others.

Making it OK to appreciate Santa’s lessons and image can inspire your child.

Debby recommends including a good etiquette lesson, too: to send thank-you notes for all gifts received, with personalized messages written by your child.