Random ramblings and TV-inspired activities

Monday, 19 December 2011

Teddy Sledge

Things we have had to explain to ToddlerGirl about Christmas this year:

* It's not guaranteed to snow on Christmas Day
* Just because it is snowing doesn't mean it is Christmas Day
* Father Christmas and Santa Claus are the same person; you won't get presents from both

Actually, she won't be getting presents from either, as we're not really comfortable with that tradition. Why? Well, we're not religious types and the idea of an omnipresent person who watches and judges you and rewards you accordingly isn't something that I choose to subscribe to. I'd ideally prefer moral compasses to be directed by internal values than external incentives. The whole "you must be good or you won't get stuff" thing can have unintential side-effects in the long-term, and I'd refer you to Alfie Kohn (or my previous post) for further info.

However, recognising this is a sensitive subject and trying to be respectful of other people's beliefs makes the 'not doing Santa' line harder to walk. Father Christmas already came to preschool and gave ToddlerGirl a book. I'm telling her that's her present from Father Christmas. She will be getting stockings and presents on Christmas Day, but that's not contingent on her behaviour; I don't have a mental tally of how good or bad she has been and therefore which presents she is or is not entitled to. Although it is amazing how many people just assume everyone does Father Christmas... How many times already has she been told "have you been a good girl for Santa?", "I hope Santa brings you lots of presents", or, when she doesn't want to leave somewhere she's having fun, "you have to go or Santa won't know where to bring your presents" (if he "knows when you are sleeping, knows when you're awake, knows if you've been bad or good", surely he knows if you are in your own house or not?)

You can't apply a logical approach to Father Christmas, though I know of several children that are terrified by the idea of a strange man breaking into their house, which seems utterly logical to me. And I know of children incredibly distressed as to how Father Christmas will get in if they have no chimney. At times, they're more logical than you'd credit, kids.

So I'm telling her Father Christmas doesn't come to our house. He may visit other people's houses, but we have lots of presents already. I'm hoping this is an adequate compromise. I don't want her to be "that" child in the playground the other mothers hate for shattering illusions, but equally I don't want to be railroaded into a tradition which has no real benefit. If I'm going to lie to my kids, I need a better reason than that. Anyone wailing about "the magic" will get short shrift. There's plenty of magic to go around; just watch my toddler playing in the snow. There's no need to fabricate it. I've long believed Father Christmas is more for the adults' benefit anyway. If Santa's so lovely, how come he's so often used as a threat? "If you don't behave, Father Christmas won't come!"

We're treating Father Christmas in broadly the same terms as Peppa Pig. Father Christmas is in around 90% of the Christmas Specials I've seen thus far anyway, I'm not going to be so "bah humbug" as to ban any mention of his name, or any image of his face from our home. In that spirit, when ToddlerGirl asked if I could make something out of an empty nectarine tub, I couldn't think of anything other than a sledge... It's not a Santa sledge, though she insisted it is pulled by deer.

Look at my beautiful balloon deer! Technically it's probably an antelope as it has horns rather than antlers but I've only been trying the old balloon modelling thing for three days so as improvs go, it'll do for me...

If you want to make a sledge for teddy, take:

* An empty fruit tub
* Wrapping paper
* Tinsel
* A bit of curling ribbon

Wrap the tub in the wrapping paper, sellotaping it down inside the tub.
Sellotape tinsel around the top of the tub
Sellotape ribbon to front so that sledge can be pulled along by optional deer.


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