When children think about Santa Claus, they think of this magical, fat, old man that lives in the North Pole and spends his entire year making toys with his elves for all the good little children of the world. They think of reindeer and a sleigh, a fur-lined red suit, and Christmas Eve. The night when jolly old St. Nick makes his trek around the globe, squeezing down chimneys, delivering presents, and eating at least a cubic ton of cookies an egg nog. Children write letters to Santa asking for impossible toys, stay on their best behavior in hopes Santa will make their wishes come true, and practically LIVE for Christmas morning when they will finally RECEIVE the presents Santa brings them.

When adults think about Santa, they think more about the spirit of GIVING and making other people’s wishes a reality. There is no time like Christmastime for trying to out-give each other. What ELSE can I give to my children, my friends, my family? How can I make them feel more loved and appreciated? How can I show them how much I care about them? Adults are rarely concerned about the presents they will receive from others, usually they get more joy about GIVING a gift (especially when they know it’s the perfect gift) to someone else.

This concept can be perfectly illustrated in my own life. I just finished what was probably the BEST Christmas week that I’ve ever had with my family. I’ve had plenty of good Christmases over the years, but I think the reason that this one was the best, from MY perspective, is because I got to GIVE a lot more than I have in years past. It was a good year.  We were able to play “Santa” and adopt two families, providing a Christmas morning for 6 children that wouldn’t have otherwise had one. We also were able to spoil our children and family members in a way we normally wouldn’t have. I enjoyed Christmas more because I was able to GIVE more to other people, and do it in a meaningful way that really communicated my love to them.

The warm fuzzy feelings I got, and that I think we all get, during this season, got me thinking about Santa Claus and the magic he brings to the world this time of year. I think there are some parts of what happens during Christmastime and the example that Santa sets for us all, that we need to examine more closely.

Here is what I’ve found to be the TRUTH about Santa:

His job is too big for one person!

Santa Claus is known for working tirelessly to make toys for over 1.9 billion children around the world, and deliver them to each and every one of them in ONE NIGHT!! No mix ups, no back orders, no late deliveries allowed! I think we can all agree that is a pretty much impossible task. I don’t even think FedEx could pull that off with its thousands of employees. It takes Santa having a CLEAR MISSION, creating a PLAN, and DELEGATING to a countless number of elves (and some pretty amazing MAGIC) to pull this off.

What similarities can we draw between being a child care center owner or director and being Santa Claus? Sometimes it seems like you have a gazillion parents, children and staff to please, and so many tasks to get done that the job is just too big for you to handle by yourself. How can you follow Santa’s example to PLAN and DELEGATE to pull it all off seamlessly, and still keep a twinkle in your eye?

“Santas” are everywhere!

We’ve already established that this guy has a pretty impossible job. To pull off Christmas morning miracles for each little child of the world, Santa has to enlist each and every parent on the planet to do the research and the work to make children’s Christmas dreams come true.  “Santa” shows up in families striving to show each other love with gestures of kindness, meals shared together and the exchanging of presents. Friends want to get in on the “Santa” action too, by giving gifts and hosting holiday parties. And even strangers wear the metaphorical “Red Coat” by working together, donating time, money and toys, to make sure children and families that are less fortunate have a happy Christmas morning. People everywhere love the feelings they get when they play Santa, giving of themselves to make someone else’s life just a little bit better. They’ve watched what Santa does, and MODEL his GREAT EXAMPLE of care for others, his thoughtfulness and his selflessness.

People naturally want to follow a LEADER that INSPIRES them. The way Santa gives to others, inspires us all to emulate his actions. How can you, as a child care leader, become a model that your team members begin to follow? What can you do, on a consistent and on-going basis that will inspire your staff and start a chain reaction of goodness?

The power of giving can have a profound impact, no matter how small the gesture!

Oftentimes, the impact of giving goes farther than just to the receiver of the gift or kindness. The giver is usually effected by feelings of joy that they were able to help someone else. And many times, the feelings stirred in the recipient causes a chain reaction that can be endless. A “Pay it Forward” type of phenomenon takes place.

As a child, when I was feeling down, my mom used to tell me “Go and find something you can do for somebody else, and you will start to feel better.” She was never more right. Every single time I shifted the focus off of me and my yucky feelings, on to what I could do to make someone else’s day a little bit better, it made MY day A WHOLE LOT better! Santa does this….figures out how to make other people happy though gifts, thoughtfulness, and selfless acts. I think that is why so many people try to imitate what he does. It makes them FEEL GOOD!

What can you do in your child care center to inspire continued gestures of giving throughout the year? (Not just gifts….helpfulness, thoughtfulness, acts of service, etc) How can you start a “Pay it Forward” movement among your staff and make that a part of your company culture?

Don’t let Santa die with the season!

What can you do in your personal life and in your child care center to keep the “Spirit of Santa” or the “Spirit of Giving” alive all year round? Can you look for ways to do good deeds or random acts of kindness for your employees and families? Can you start a “Secret Sunshine” or “Secret Sister” program among your staff (rather than Secret Santa) where your staff go out of their way to do nice things for each other? Can you find ways to volunteer or give back to your community? Think of your favorite aspects of this season and the feelings Santa brings, then purposely plan to add these things into your year-round calendar. The love and care that we show each other each December doesn’t have to die just because Santa has returned to the North Pole!

 

*I should note, that in my family we celebrate Christmas and Santa plays a big part of that holiday. I do realize that other families celebrate other holidays and have other traditions.  I want you to know that I mean no disrespect to those readers by sharing my perspective here. I am very open minded, and welcome and embrace other cultures, religions and holidays. But I have chosen to write about my own personal experiences and perspective in this blog post.