In our family, it has been traditional to "pretend Santa." When I was a child, "Santa came" while we were sleeping, left an uwrapped gift under the tree for us, and filled our stockings with an orange, candy, and a trinket. I don't remember finding out that Santa was not real - it seems like we always knew it, and just enjoyed the fun of it all. As teenagers, my siblings and I began to fill a stocking "from Santa" for our parents, also.
We've continued in the same way with our children. However, for our children with special needs, it's a "whole diff'rent ball game," as they say. Their innocent minds grasp the Santa story and hold on tight. Many clues have not swayed them, and direct statements to Hugger are directly ignored. Whistle will figure it out eventually -- he's asked questions about not having a chimney, whether or not Santa can drive, and about what reindeer eat. The jury's still out on when Hugger will come around. ;-)
So -- this is what transpired on Christmas Eve at our house.
- Whistle put out a glass of milk and 3 dishes with one cookie each. One for Santa Claus, one for Mrs. Claus, and one for the reindeer, he explained. (He passed over tins of multiple varieties of homemade treats to put out his own favorite: Oreos with red cream filling.) He went to sleep in his bedroom, and Hugger was getting ready to join him.
- At least once in previous years, "Santa" forgot to eat the cookies, so I drank the milk and put the cookies in the kitchen. Then I went to bed, waiting for Hugger to be asleep as well.
- A little later, I got up to do the Santa duties, and found that Hugger had moved the 3 empty dishes to the kitchen, replaced them with a paper plate filled with chocolate chip cookies, refilled the milk, and had gone to sleep on the sofa.
- I tiptoed around the room, moved cookies and drank milk (again), and replaced the 3 dishes from Whistle to their original spot, which was now alongside the crumb-laden plate from Hugger. On Christmas morning, they both knew their cookies were gone, and no questions were asked.