My 8yo happily believes. A friend outed Santa to her last year. She told me about it & I asked her what she thought. She reasoned out why her friend was wrong! I'm sure there's a part of her that knows, but obviously, she wants to believe for now. And I'd be lying if I didn't admit I'm pleased she still does. I'm starting to wonder if the 5yo is going to know before her though; she had questions about the characters at amusement parks recently; "They're just people dressed up as that character, aren't they?" However, she was hard to contain when we went into a mall week before Thanksgiving & spotted Santa. She HAD to go see him & tell him how much she loved him! Her devotion is somewhat troubling. When you put it in the context that we're basically encouraging her sit on a strange man's lap, and take pictures with him. It makes me VERY uncomfortable, but I do love that they believe in magic, so I try not to think about it TOO hard. In the case of both girls, our local mall has helped me out by providing a skylight that is best viewed from the Santa photo booth. You can just see the tops of the reindeer's antlers in the skylight. That's where he parks his sleigh, you know. A few years ago, we go an Elf on a Shelf. If I'd thought it through, I may not have signed up for that one. You have to move the guy every night! And I make sure to keep him up high so that neither of the girls can get to him, because if they touch him, he'll "lose his magic!" And if the elf lost his magic, that would kinda put a damper on Christmas. I was smart enough to make sure Elfie (girls' named him,) doesn't show up till December 1st, so there's at least one less week of that to deal with. At the end, I'm scrambling for places to put him. That first year of Elfie, was when Big was 4. She, naturally, wanted to know, "why didn't Elfie come to visit us before that year?" I quickly concocted an great answer; "When I was pregnant with you, we signed up to get a house elf for Christmas. There's a limited number of house elves and we were placed on a waiting list. We didn't realize the wait list was THREE YEARS long! So we were lucky to get one, when we did." As much as I complain sometimes about the maintenance of Elfie, I do love the excitement of the girls trying to locate him each morning. I need to remember that, I know the days of magic are numbered.
I think, part of the reason Big still believes has to do with the tale I've got going for them. We also celebrate the religious aspect of Christmas, and I've explained to my girls that Santa gives to them because he was so taken w/God sending us his son as Baby Jesus that he wanted to show his love and gratitude to God as well. We are NOT super religious, but I think knowing that someone beside their parents loves them unconditionally is part of what makes the "lie" believable. There's much comfort in knowing there's an adult out there, who loves you, even though he's never met you. When the time comes I hope to handle the subject with half as much grace as Martha did here. But I've also done some research of my own. I plan to direct them to websites that talk about St. Nicolas and the legends that surround Santa. And, like Martha, I plan to show them how to make the magic continue for all of us who believe.