When the Elder Kid Is in on Santa

Featured Holidays

It’s been a few years since I got hit with the feels over our older kid having the clock running out on his Santa days. I think it’s just another one of those little milestones that remind you all too much that your kids are growing up. For a while now, I have had a household with one believer and one kid in on things, and it’s changed the holiday dynamic, but not necessarily in a bad way.

When the older kiddo started to suspect and question the whole thing, we came clean. I also revealed all of the steps we had taken to create Santa magic from the different wrapping paper to not handwriting notes to taking the kids to the same Santa each year for consistency. It felt like the part in a Leverage episode where they revealed how they pulled off the heist. We got to admit to kiddo about scrambling to move the elves when someone forgot. (The elves slept in was our common excuse.)

One of the neat things about that was that the kiddo actually was impressed and appreciative at all the work we did, especially as it sank into his head that everything he had credited to a magical man and a team of elves was his parents who were also managing the fact both of our kids have birthdays near the holidays too. I’m not going to lie, that acknowledgment felt nice.

As another sign of our kid maturing, we explained that the reason for toy drives and angel trees was because the truth was Santa is created by parents, and not all parents have equal financial means to make Santa magic. As the saying goes, “magic has a price,” and Santa is easily a more expensive one. I think that making him pick out toys to donate to a family one of his activities was sponsoring suddenly had a little more meaning to him that first year that he was in the know. We told him that, as a kid who knew, he now got to help create that magic, mostly by not spilling the beans to younger kids who were on the other side of Santa magic years.

Sometimes my elder kiddo helps set up the elf crew. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

This year, there’s been another layer of fun. “Can I move the elves?” With a later bedtime from his sibling, our older kid realized he was in a position to help in ways he had not gotten to before. Now there was a new accomplice in making Santa magic, and I was totally in on it.

There are a few customary things our elves do like bring advent calendars on the first of the month that I stayed 100% in charge of, but the kiddo has helped me write the notes and brainstorm ideas. There’s a whimsical, childish tone to my elf notes that the elder kid is not confident enough to pull off yet, so this year we’re a team. He usually moves the elves just before he goes to bed while I write the note.

As further proof he really understands the craziness of things, he almost forgot last night and we scrambled to set up the elves together. It’s been fun seeing the different ideas he’s come up with after I’ve carried the job for five full Christmas seasons already.

Our younger kid is now on limited time before he’s brought in on things. I’m not sure how that will change our holiday dynamic quite yet. Will they still want the elves because they like the whimsy or will the elf crew retire? Will Santa’s visits be replaced by something else? I don’t know yet, but I’m coming to terms with the fact it’s not always a bad thing just because it’s different.

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