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If I had the chance to go back in time (to 2007) and have a complete parenting do-over, I’d rethink my whole attitude toward Santa Claus.

I’ve been pretty hit-and-miss when it comes to the whole mystical creatures deal. One year at Easter, I chewed up a carrot and left bits of it on the coffee table. I hid eggs all over the house and left a note from the Easter Bunny. In the morning, I told four-year-old Nicky and two-year-old Georgia that I thought I’d seen him hop through the house at about 2am while I was feeding Millie. It totally freaked them out. Not just a little bit. Nics kept asking how he gained entry into our home and questioning whether we were safe from midnight burglars.

After that, I decided that our kids didn’t really need all that Santa, reindeer, bunny, tooth fairy nonsense.

But then I’d see mums doing the elf-on-a-shelf thing, or I’d remember how I was convinced that my dad disappeared on Christmas morning every year because he was reindeer-sitting while Father Christmas did the rounds of Yallingup Hill on the back of a truck. It took me many years to notice that Daddy had the same watch and boots as Santa. Maybe I was just a kill-joy?

Some years, Santa came to our house. Some years he didn’t. If I could go back to 2007, I’d advise myself to construct a more consistent Cherry Family Santa Policy.

This year, I decided not to do Santa gifts.
This year, I severely misunderstood how deeply Santa had captured Sienna’s imagination.

When Nicky helped Sienna set out cookies and carrots, and then ate them before she went to bed, I had an inkling that I was in trouble.

In the morning, when there were no gifts from Santa, Sienna cried. “Other kids get presents from Santa. Why don’t I?”

Over the course of the day, I could hear her quietly singing, “Santa isn’t coming to town.”

I tried to tell her that I was sorry. I said that I thought Santa and I had an agreement that he wouldn’t do presents for the Cherry girls because they get so many gifts already. She wasn’t impressed. She wanted to know why Santa had come last year then. She could recall exactly what he’d given her.

I’d forgotten about that.

As a new parent, I’d been really keen for the kids to understand that Christmas is about Jesus, and not about Santa. These days I realise that the two concepts aren’t so contradictory that they can’t both exist together for a while.

If a new parent asked me if I thought they should encourage Father Christmas in their house, I would now say, “absolutely yes!”

There’s nothing wrong with a little imagination and magic.

I’m thinking Santa might send Sienna a little, belated something in the mail…