As a young girl, I always wondered why Santa lavished more presents on a few neighbourhood kids than he did on my sister and I. We were obedient, excelled in school, and rarely came in past our curfew, so why did we only get one stocking instead of the four over-sized stockings that our friends did? Did Santa see us as undeserving with our best efforts not being sufficient enough for his approval?
My sister and I certainly didn't do without the necessities, plus more, with growing up in this consumer-based nation. Unfortunately, when children don't receive a balanced selection of gifts based off of what their peers do, this can be interpreted that no matter how hard they try they won't meet the approval of an imaginary man in the sky, which can then trigger a cluster of negative views regarding the importance of being your very best.
This possible pessimistic outlook can lead a child to feelings of inferiority and incur a dampened outlook on how to view the inner-workings of society. While the fantasy surrounding Santa can be a magical experience for a child, how to deal with the consequences of explaining "how a man with infinite resources has left you with less than your peers" can become complicated and send out the wrong message about the child's worth if Santa's yearly rewards don't add up to those of their elementary counterparts.
You're a single parent, perhaps you are disabled, or it's possible you barely make ends meet after your part-time job hacked your hours in half. Maybe you were laid off, in a car accident, or are going through a laborious divorce; what do you tell your sweet Sally when she asks why troublemaker Ted next door got an Xbox One from Santa while she ended up a second-hand teddy bear? (Who was it taken from anyway, a naughty little elf?)
I do not remember how my parents pacified my need for answers while keeping Santa's anonymity secure, although I'm sure my inquisitive nature led them to offer creative responses, but what I do know now is this: Christmas is not about Santa. It is not about the wish list of junk you send to the North Pole, it's about your innate desires along with the ability to maintain healthy and satisfying relations with people who matter to you. It's about interrupting the continuous flow of work/ learn/ eat/ sleep/ rinse/ repeat to enjoy quality time with your loved ones.
If you are the type of parent who never wants your child to feel alone, isolated, inferior, or rejected, you are already three steps ahead of parents who only throw toys at their children to replace the love and energy required to make them feel a sense of belonging. It is not necessarily what you say to comfort your child in the moment your child is wondering why familial poverty has overlapped with the jolly old man who is supposed to referee social justice -- it's how you nurture your child that will determine how confident he or she will be when it comes time step out into the world as an independent individual.
The best gifts one can have is being surrounded by family, however defined; the memories your child will cherish will be the timeless ones filled with laughter and love, not foggy recollections of what year it was when they received the unsettling gaze of their very own nocturnal Furby. Take interest in what you are able to provide your child with, interact and engage in play that will soon enough become distant feel-good memories. Redirect the attention of what your child didn't get to the wonderful gifts, monetary value or blessings, he or she has been granted. After all, it won't be long until the innocence that comes with believing in Rudolph will "go down in history."
Toys wear down or out, will be replaced or upgraded, and eventually forgotten or tossed. Give your child memories of being loved and feeling accepted for who he or she is. Creating positive memories and reinforcing a child's self-esteem will get him or her through this world despite any injustices that will be faced along the way. When you are no longer around, Sally would much rather trade in her $300 pair of shoes from 2004 to hug you for two full minutes and tell you that she loves you more than anything that money can buy. In years to come, Sally will cherish what you have given her, not what a mysterious man in red addicted to milk and cookies didn't.