I know, I know. It’s a rite of passage in a child’s life. It’s magical. Their faces light up and there is an innocence in their belief. I am depriving my children of the joy that comes with believing in Santa, and I’m going against a rather American norm. I get that, and I have to say #sorrynotsorry.
My children are loved, cared for, and we celebrate the heck out of Christmas! We decorate the tree, make hot chocolate, read Christmas stories, watch Christmas movies, exchange gifts and even get pictures with Santa. The only thing we don’t do is tell our kids that Santa brings presents to all the boys and girls of the world. Here’s why:
It is a lie. Spin it however you like, at the end of the day, it isn’t true. Does this mean I never tell white lies to my children? No. It means I do my very best to be honest with my children about life. When they ask me questions, I want them to know they can count on me to be honest. I am sure that most children grow up fine believing in Santa, but I would rather not have my child question my integrity once they find out Santa isn’t real.
It is impossible. I’m not sure about your kids, but mine have asked for some pretty outrageous things. My son wants to be able to fly, my daughter wants magical powers, and my youngest wants to have One Direction perform a concert in our living room. Yes, seriously. Beyond that, they have asked for things we simply cannot afford ($400 scooter, not happening). How do I explain that Santa did not bring them what they wanted, when the entire premise of Santa is that he brings you what you want?
Christmas is not dependent on good works. Another thing taught in the Santa mantra, the “nice” and “naughty” list. How – how do we get passed this? I’m pretty sure at one time or another, our kids have been “naughty,” and some years, I can confidently say my children were likely more naughty than nice. What do I do? Give them coal? Or am I teaching them that no matter what I say and how they act, they will still get their presents. To me, their gifts are not contingent upon their behavior. I cannot reconcile that with what we teach our children about Santa.
It is unfair. Let’s assume we could get our children every single thing on their list, it still would not solve the issue of other children in their life not getting everything they want. Undoubtedly, children will talk at school. How can we answer the question “Why didn’t Susie get any presents from Santa?” without discussing income inequality and unrealistic expectations.
It is heartbreaking. At least, it was for me. Let me take you back to Christmas Eve, 1985. For my entire life, “Santa” was not only real, but I knew him! He would show up to my step-grandmother’s house to hand out presents. On that fateful Christmas Eve, when I was five-and-a-half years old, my brother callously informed me that the man I thought was Santa was only a relative dressed up and that Santa did not exist. Crushed, I turned to my dad to expose my brother’s lies, but he confirmed them. Of all my Christmas memories, this one is the most vivid. When I think back on my childhood Christmas, this is what I remember. I have no magical memories of Santa which aren’t tainted with the devastation I felt when I learned the truth. Of course, I’m fine now, and I don’t fault my parents or anyone over this (well, maybe my brother a little bit). That moment was a big and painful moment for me, one that I would rather not have my children endure.
So, what DO we do?
We teach our children about Saint Nicholas. We tell them how he lived long ago and because of his faith, he devoted his life to helping others. We explain in age appropriate terms how his life was such an inspiration that his work is still celebrated at Christmas in the form of Santa Claus. We tell our children that although Santa is not a real person who lives at the North Pole and “Sees you when you’re sleeping,” that it is still okay to celebrate Santa knowing who he is based upon.
We have done our best telling our children that some other people believe in Santa, and they have been instructed not to say anything about him not being real. So far, they have not ruined the magic for any other children. The closest they came was when my niece freaked out because my daughter touched the “Elf on the Shelf.” Yeah, we don’t do that either. Except for our own entertainment.