Ho! Ho! Ho!

Greetings from the North Pole!

Can you believe the holiday season is already here? We are working overtime in Santa's Workshop putting the finishing touches on the toys and getting the reindeer in shape for my sleigh ride around the world.

I know you are very busy too. You have gifts to wrap, rooms to decorate, parties to plan -- and, of course, a Santa visit to schedule! I am excited to hear what your little boys and girls have on their Santa List this year.

Visiting me is a very special time for your children (and for you). Sitting with me and sharing wishes are part of the magic.

However, as you can find in many family photo albums, not all children embrace our visit with smiles and wonderment. Seeing my long white beard and red suit, especially for the first time, can be frightening!

How can you make the trip to see me fun and exciting? The Children's Library Staff at the Johnson County Public Library asked me to share some tips on preparing your little ones for our visit.

So, grab a cup of hot cocoa and read on:

  • Introduce Santa long before you visit me. Talk me up! Show them pictures of me. Go to the library and find my photographs in books. Point me out when I appear on television shows or videos. Talk about my beard, my suit, my bells and my laugh. Show them photographs of your visits to me when you were their age. Tell them how I want to share their joy. Our visits are so much nicer when they are familiar with me before they get in line!
  • Watch me from afar at first. Sometimes, parents bring their children on a "test visit". They keep them at a distance and let them watch the other children sit on my lap and talk to me. If your son or daughter see other children having a good time, your child might be less likely to be afraid. When your child seems comfortable, you can ask if he or she is ready to visit or would like to come back another time. Don't get upset if your young son or daughter is not ready yet. Remember, this is about your child's enjoyment. Please never "force" a visit with me.
  • Agree to the Santa List before the visit. Ask your child several times what gift he or she wants to ask Santa to leave behind. Keep the list to one or two items they really want (and Santa can really afford). I will never promise to bring a gift that is too expensive or inappropriate. Also, please tell your child that Santa is not allowed to bring puppies or kittens or any other animals because they could catch a cold riding in the sleigh. (Adopting a pet should be a family decision, not a Santa one.)
  • Practice a very short Santa List. Rehearse the visit by having an adult serve as my "stand-in". When your child knows his or her Santa List by heart, the real visit is much more enjoyable. Also, I love to talk up one or two wishes -- rather than a long list. That gives us more time to talk about upcoming holiday events with family and friends.
  • Don't worry about getting the "perfect" photo of Santa and your children. Some of the most memorable family holiday pictures are the ones that capture the "natural" reactions of children with Santa. Remember, the visit is about them and for them.
  • Please don't get upset about waiting in line. That makes your child anxious and upset. Again, this is your child's experience. Also, because the wait could be long, you might want to have your child eat a snack and go to the bathroom before getting in line.

Can't wait to see everyone!

All of my very best during this joyous season,