As Christmas is now turning into a distant memory and the decorations are relegated to the loft with a good ole shove, there’s at least one small girl who won’t forget.
She calls for him at nursery. She calls for him in the car. She questions where he’s gone to when he’s played such a big part of our life for over a month.
We spend so much time investing in the idea of Santa coming and creating the magic that we forget how quickly he buggers off back up the chimney without another peep.
For young children who thrive on routine, he becomes an integral part of everyday life. There are pictures of him EVERYWHERE, the books we choose to read are all Christmas related with snowflakes and snowmen… until Boxing day.
For a figure that’s so all-encompassing for a month, his lack of presence in January is noticed like a plaster being ripped off.
After then, it feels like we sharply divorce the idea of him with all memories promptly removed from sight. Sure, he left his gifts, but his presence – or lack of is noted by her. Santa? She asks.
It feels so easily like a dream once we pack all of the memorabilia away as it disappears in one foul swoop. One day it’s all we can talk about and the next we’ve forgotten about him. Sure, from our point of view it’s a relief. I get my living room back to some sense of normality like a breath of fresh air.
But for her? She knows that something is missing that used to be here and that’s confusing.
I didn’t quite think it through to start with when we introduced the idea of Santa. Sure, I thought about what we were going to do on Christmas day, but didn’t think about how we were going to say goodbye to him or acknowledge how important that is for her.
So today, when she got into the car and asked after the Santa that she’d seen outside nursery for weeks on end I told her that he was gone.
She then looked at me and told me “Santa…Work”, which is her heart-breaking way of understanding that somebody isn’t in the room and comes from when I tell her that Daddy is at work on a Wednesday while we’re off.
So I’ve learnt my lesson. It’s all well and good introducing characters that make a fun and festive period, but it’s also important to let them know to expect them to leave.
Now we’re focusing on moving forward with 2017. Over time her questions about Santa will cease at least for a few months until we play the same game again… although next time with MORE fun and MORE festiveness as she’ll be old enough to start getting really excited.
I can’t wait for next Christmas and I know I’m going to do things a bit differently – like planning out her stocking before Christmas Eve (my bad), and doing a lot more Christmas craft activities.