DEAR HARRIETTE: I have three children. Two are under 5 years old. My oldest is 10. My concern is that we are getting close to Christmas, and it’s getting harder and harder to manage the children’s expectations of Christmas, especially when it comes to communicating with and about Santa. My eldest is ready to be a spoiler. He doesn’t want to write a letter to Santa. He doesn’t want to do anything other than talk about what his friends are saying about Santa in school. What can I say to my son to get him to keep the magic of Christmas alive for the whole family? My husband and I really get into the holidays, and we want our eldest to stay engaged. What can we say to him? -- Spoiler Alert, Athens, Georgia
DEAR SPOILER ALERT: Your 10-year-old needs holiday duties. Give him the big-boy role by engaging him in the duty of keeping his younger siblings psyched about Christmas. Anoint your son as Santa’s helper. Assign him tasks such as helping his siblings write their letters to Santa. He can even help them think of what they want to put on their lists.
In terms of his school friends, encourage him to tell them that he is helping to make it a great holiday for the whole family. Remind him of how much fun it is when everyone pitches in. He can be cool at school without dissing the holiday. Instead, he can talk with pride about being a helpful big brother. You and your husband can point out that Santa remains alive and well in your home, and everyone is grateful for it.