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Do you believe in Father Christmas?

I bet you don’t. But did you when you were a child? I did. But I don’t actually remember when I stopped believing.

Due to my parenting policy of honesty irrespective of subject matter, my kids believed in Father Christmas only for a nano-second. Likewise the tooth-fairy. We still had fun with pretending they were real though, and the thought that other children had been hoodwinked was a special secret between us.

Cal, my five-year-old stepson, still believes. But when do you tell a child Father Christmas isn’t real? When do you break the spell?

Cal’s mum sponsors a child called Stanley in Africa. Last weeks Cal’s mum was telling him that Stanley probably won’t get anything for Christmas because his family is very poor. “That’s OK” says Cal innocently “he can ask Father Christmas.”

Given everything that Cal has been told about Father Christmas, why wouldn’t he assume that Father Christmas would shower Stanley with gifts and toys? Cal’s mum, not wanting to break the spell for Cal or his two-year-old sister had to think fast to respond… “mums and dads have to pay Father Christmas” she told him. Phew! For Cal, the spell remains unbroken.

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