Adapting the Santa Myth for Children in Care


“You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not shout I am telling you why….”

As you are probably aware, a lot of the Santa mythology repeats the idea that Santa will only come to the kids that are good.

However, when I was making this video of the children talking about their wishes for Santa, I noticed that Maria*, the older sister of three of the children, continually repeated reassurances to her younger siblings along the lines of it is no problem if he doesn’t come, that she loves Santa even if he cannot come.

Watching and rewatching this during the editing process, it occurred to me, that Maria was saying this because there had been so many years in the past when she had to prepare her younger brothers and sisters for disappointment,  because indeed Santa did not come.

So I realized that the whole “Santa only comes if you are good” would not be the right message for these children. Indeed, I tend to find that manipulative approach problematic anyway, but even more so in this context.

I really reflected a lot, and consulted with my favorite therapeutic storyteller, Susan Perrow.  I then came up with this speech for a hired Santa to say to the children when we organized a party at the kindergarten in Bucharest.

It is a pretty big job to make sure that each and every child receives something special for Christmas that reminds them that they are special and loved.
Every child deserves to know that they are special – even those that are a bit mischievous  or get in trouble a lot, because deep inside each child has a spark of pure love and light.

As you may have figured out – I need a lot of helpers to do such a big job and get to all of the children in the whole world.

But….sometimes my helpers get distracted!  They eat too many candy canes, gingerbread cookies and chocolate Santas and you know what happens when magical elves eat too much sugar!! They get super-silly!!! They start to dance and sing and forget things! They even forget what day it is!!!

Unfortunately – because of this, sometimes some very good, kind children didn’t get any presents – or they didn’t get what they were hoping for and are sad…I understand that this happened to some of you that are here with us today..

I am so sorry.  Can you forgive me?

I want you each to know that you are always very special and have amazing goodness inside  – whether or not you get presents. What I really hope for – is that the spirit of Christmas and the spirit of Love will live inside of each of you. In this way – as you grow up, you can help me to spread joy and love to adults and children around you – and especially to those that my helpers may have forgotten about.

Unfortunately – the Santa actor that came was really terrible and didn’t manage to pull off even a fraction of what I was hoping for.  He looked like he was hung over himself on too much sugar from the previous night. Totally uninspired and disappointing, he half-heartedly tried to remember a few lines of the text we had provided, but it came off  like frozen wood.  Later in the day George*, who is usually one of the sweetest of our little ones,  was in a bad mood about something else and was feeling pretty critical of everything,  told me that the Santa that came was fake….

So, my next challenge is to transform that “speech” into an actual story and tell it to them myself during the Christmas holidays..


names are changed to protect the children’s privacy