I’ve probably got another year before I have to start answering questions about Santa Claus, but I don’t want it to catch me off guard. My son is almost two and a half, and while he asks plenty of questions, they’re grounded in the physical present and haven’t yet turned toward the abstract. Plus, he barely knows about the concept of Santa Claus. Over the Christmas holiday, we rode the Holiday Express train here in Portland, and it was a lot to adjust to even without the addition of Santa and his elves. My son had never been on or near a train before, so that was a surprise, and (thanks to the pandemic of the early ’20s,) he hadn’t been around such a large group of people in an enclosed space before.
When Santa came through our car, he wished us a Merry Christmas, offered my son a candy cane, and asked if we’d like a picture. The toddler just stared and Santa moved on—the guy playing Santa is used to little kids, and they don’t experience wonder at meeting Santa under a certain age. And my son hadn’t received any presents from Santa yet, so he didn’t have any personal association with the man.(more…)