Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Confession

I guess every holiday deserves a confession.

Here's mine.

Our children don't believe in Santa Clause. And it's our fault.

We decided, long before we had children, that we would not do Santa Claus in our family.

I could say it is for religious reasons. I could say it is because we want to focus on Christmas being about Jesus's birth. I could say all those things and more. But that's not the real reason.

I don't ever remember believing in Santa Claus. Hubster doesn't either. And maybe missing out on those memories made our decision easier.

The real reason we decided not to support the idea of Santa Claus was due to watching friends stop believing.

I had friends who described the devastation they felt when they realized Santa wasn't real.

The other reason was the whole idea of lying to my child. I have friends who, even now, go through complicated charades and set-ups to keep their children "believing." Setting out cookies, then eating part of them after the kids are in bed. Addressing presents as "From Santa." Even getting on skis and taking a loop around the yard in the snow to make it look like Santa's sleigh had been there. Or using Santa as a way to manipulate children into good behaviour.

It feels dishonest.

I don't want to lie to my children. I'm not saying I tell them everything about everything. Sometimes I omit (How did the baby get in her tummy?), sometimes I simplify (What is blood made out of?), sometimes I just tell them I can't tell them (Why is that person on the news?). But I'm not going to go out of my way to support what amounts to a lie.

I recognize these might be rather strong feelings. Maybe overly strong. And I don't want anyone to think I'm condemning parents who do promote Santa. We've just chosen not to.

There's another thing about Santa that I don't like. The concept of Santa makes me sad. I always wondered how people explained that Santa only came visit children whose parents made money, but that he didn't visit children who were poor, or homeless, or sick in hospitals.

I desperately wish that there was a Santa, and that he brought new computers and PlayStations and puppies to every child. I wish there was someone that made sure everyone had something to open Christmas morning. I wish there didn't have to be children who only got one pair of socks, or a piece or candy, or nothing.

But wishing doesn't make it so.

So my children don't believe in Santa.

Watching their eyes light up this time of year, I don't think this has decreased the magic that surrounds the season. Or given them any less to believe in.


  1. I was just talking with Cam about this today as we were doing our Santa Shopping. I love Fairy Tales and Make Believe and I remember Santa as one of those fabulous things. But at the same time I totally feel like I am lying to my kids- especially as Hannah gets older. We do have Santa at our house but we scaled him back compared to what he did in our homes. We decided that Santa would bring 1 toy and fill the stocking- that's it. I have really mixed feelings about Santa- I don't want to let my girls go without Santa because of the Magic and Joy it brought me but, I want to transition them to the truth without the sadness- My parents did a great job with this. They kind of inducted me into the "secret" made it cool to know and I got to help out with all the sneaking for my younger siblings. So I chose Santa when my first was born but looking back I might not have- I just went with what my parents did.

  2. We also do Santa here, but don't go overboard with it--a stocking and maybe a few toys. When the kids start asking about the truth of it, I plan on talking about the spirit of Santa, the idea of wanting to give to everyone, etc. I also have fond memories of Santa and make believe, and I want my girls to have those same kinds of memories (though I think you're right, there can definitely be a magic about the season without Santa). Mostly I just want to install in them the idea of giving, and I think Santa, when done correctly, can easily lead to that.

  3. For me, believing in Santa is just plain fun. I wasn't devastated when I learned the "truth." It was just kind of one of those things that one day I believed and the next I didn't. It was no big deal.

    I have no issue with anyone not teaching their children to believe in Santa Claus. What I have an issue with (and I'm glad you stated your position) are the non-Santa folks that actually condemn anyone who teaches their kids about him. You know, you do your thing and I'll do mine and we can all be happy.

    I do agree with you about the big charades. I mean, when I was really little, my mom drank some of the milk and my dad ate the cookies, but that was as far as it went. When we started questioning, they didn't try to provide a big, lengthy, dishonest ruse to keep us believing in Santa longer than necessary.

  4. While we've never really been a "Santa" family, I had not given thought to premise of Santa not visiting those who are really in need.

    Much to think about on that point.

    Merry Christmas as you celebrate Christ's birth!

  5. My boyfriend's ex told their daughter there's no Santa. She was busted by not leaving money for the tooth fairy so she just decided the jig was up. Heck, she found out when she was 8. I guess that's about right? The way his daughter explains it, though, is "There was a Santa, but he died." I think however she was told, something is getting lost in the translation!

  6. I remember when other children started telling me there was no Santa, so I asked my dad. He told me, of course, Santa existed. That settled it in my mind, and I I was willing to fistfight the brats who teased me. Later, when Dad broke the news, I was so MAD that he had lied to me when I asked him straight out.

    The interesting thing to me is how my girls have learned and started to believe in Santa WITHOUT our ever mentioning or emphasizing him. Then I wasn't quite sure what to do. My eldest daughter figured out on her own that he wasn't real, and was totally fine. My 9-year-old, though, was fairly traumatized by the news.