No, this isn’t really a post about Christmas. Although Hobby Lobby does already have their décor out. (Personally, I think it shouldn’t come out until after Halloween, but that’s for another time.) It’s about the man in the red suit, Santa Claus.
A couple of weeks ago, I was involved in a deep discussion on Twitter (as deep as it can get 140 characters at a time) about how/why/if different families “do” Santa. And since our perspective is a little different than others, I thought I would take the opportunity to explain it a little further. Plus, my Twitter friends asked for it. And if you haven’t figured out by now, if you ask for it, you’ll hear about it. (Maybe even if you don’t ask.)
First, let me just say this: this is just what we choose to do for our family. We don’t think anyone is bad, wrong, or evil for doing things differently.
When we got married, obviously we knew about Santa’s status (he’s not real, in case you weren’t aware.). But the difference was that I had never “believed” in Santa, whereas Husband had. We had different perspectives on the fat man, obviously, due to our different backgrounds. I never felt cheated because I didn’t believe Santa was real. Husband had pretended to believe long after he found out Santa wasn’t real for the sake of others.
My siblings and I grew up with the understanding that there were kids who believed Santa was real, and it would not be cool to ruin it for them. So we didn’t. We also played along – “Santa” came to visit us every year during our Christmas celebration at Mimi’s house. We each sat on his knee, had pictures made, and all that jazz. (Trump usually screamed her head off while the rest of us laughed. Because we’re supportive like that.) Other than that, no one made it a big deal either way. We knew it was a fun thing to do at Christmas, but that was all.
Long ago, Husband and I made a commitment to never lie to our kids. About anything. We knew it would not be easy. We know that not all information is suitable for little ears. And that’s ok. We don’t have to give Caedmon (and soon Honor) all the information on a given subject, but telling the truth in all situations is of the utmost importance to us.
And that includes Santa. And the Easter Bunny. And Tooth Fairy. (I know…*GASP*)
There are many reasons it’s important to us to be honest with our kids. First, we expect them to be fully honest with us. We cannot expect more from our children than we expect from ourselves. And “it’s for fun” or “for their own good” are not valid reasons in our opinion.
Second, if our kids find out that we lied to them about Santa (or Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy…and they eventually would), why would they believe us when we tell them about Jesus? Santa is tangible. He’s at the mall every Christmas. You can go and sit on his lap. Talk to him. There are books. Movies. TV Shows. Culture. We even know that Santa drinks Coke. And he eats cookies and drinks milk left out for him. Still, he’s not real.
Now, let’s talk about Jesus. He’s not tangible. You can’t go and sit on his lap. You can’t talk to him face to face, hear his voice. You can read about him in the Bible. But movies, TV shows, and culture aren’t really that up on Jesus. And while I would like to imagine that Jesus would’ve been a Coke man, I can’t say that for sure. And he’s real. Very.
Third, I don’t think Santa should be used as a tool. Even as a child, I hated hearing “Santa’s watching!” as an incentive to get kids to do what they were supposed to, especially as it got closer to Christmas. As I got older, I disliked it even more. And as a parent, I hate it. I want my children to obey with a good attitude for the right reasons – not because they might not get presents because of it. It teaches conditional behavior and conditional love. Neither of which I’m a fan.
So what do we tell our kids about Santa? The truth.
The first part is making sure they know that Christmas is about Jesus’s birthday. Because if it’s about Jesus, it automatically makes Santa less important.
Even last year when Caedmon was barely three, he understood that Santa is a symbol. He reminds us of a real person who lived a long time ago that gave gifts to people. It’s fun to think about what it would be like if someone really had elves and flying reindeer and could squeeze down your chimney. And “Santa” even came to visit Caedmon last year. He loved it. We all had fun with it. But we didn’t make it into a big deal.
If Caedmon asks to go see Santa at the mall, we’ll let him. We read “’Twas The Night Before Christmas” and watch “The Polar Express” and other Christmas classics. But we don’t push Santa or his
minions elves as a part of our Christmas celebration. It’s just not our thing.
So there it is. As I said, it might not be right for everybody, but that’s our philosophy. I would love to hear how your family “does” Santa.