Saturday, December 08, 2007

To Santa or Not To Santa

Y'all, I sometimes feel like a ginormous insecure failure as a parent. How's that for an intro, huh?

It's Santa. I have a love/hate relationship with Santa. I like the fantasy of Santa, but I don't like lying to my kids.

I think that if we'd raised our girls from infancy, we probably would have done things differently, BUT...

When we adopted our girls, they were 2, 4 and 5. The 4- and 5-year-old already believed in Santa, so we didn't tell them otherwise, but we downplayed the whole thing. Santa brings them one gift each, and since Tink has doubts, we tell her this: "You can believe what you want to about Santa, but don't tell anyone else that what they believe is wrong."

Do you know that I've heard parents say that the rule in their house is, "You have to believe to receive." In other words, when you stop believing in Santa, you stop getting presents. WHAT?

My girls will all tell you, "Santa's not important. Jesus is important." But Santa sure is a fun little fantasy, isn't he?

I think I was maybe 8 years old when I figured out that Santa wasn't real. It was actually Easter, we were at my Grandmother and Granddaddy's house, and I was ticked off because all of my aunts and older cousins were in a bedroom with the door shut, going through a bunch of shopping bags. I sat out there ticked off, pouting, trying to figure out the big secret, when VOILA! I got it. I talked to my Mom, she confirmed my suspicions, and the dominoes started falling...Easter Bunny...Tooth Fairy...Santa? I don't remember being upset or disappointed at all. I just knew.

The next Christmas, I remember laying in the bed at my grandparent's house, listening to the screen door slam, knowing that my parents were bringing in the "Santa" gifts. It's really a kind of neat memory to me, the first time I KNEW.

Around the time I learned the truth about Santa, I guess I became aware of the fact that my Granddaddy was a Scrooge. And reason for his Scrooginess? When he was a boy and learned the truth about Santa, he was devastated that his parents had lied to him, and he never got over it.

I'll try to remember to tell you more about my Granddaddy and Christmas later, but for now, let's get back to the point, shall we? The point being: I'm conflicted about going along with the whole Santa's Real thing, but I don't want to come right out and burst my kids' bubble, either.

So we won't. We'll probably just continue along the road we're on. Downplay Santa, but don't come right out and blow his cover. And be more confident in the choices we make, worrying less about what others think.

How's that for the most rambling post you've read this holiday season? Thanks for sticking with me; I needed to get that off my chest.


Jennifer said...

I understand where you are coming from. I struggle with it myself. When I was growing up, we never did Santa, so it was no big deal to me.

When CJ was little we decided not to do Santa either. My thoughts were, if I tell him there is a Santa, TF, EB, etc...and then eventually tell him, well - they aren't really real, it was all in fun, then what is he going to think about Jesus? Is he going to ask if He was just in fun too? Yes, I know that we could have explained the difference, but I just didn't really want to go through that. So we didn't do Santa. He always knew gifts came from us, but other people had fun believing in Santa and not to spoil it for anyone else. It was never a problem. As he got a little bit older (5+) when others would ask him what Santa was bringing him, he'd just play along. I was quite proud of him.

Now there's Ruthi. And we haven't decided 100% if we are going to do the same. We assumed nothing would change, but somehow she's already got wind of Santa, and is saying that Santa is going to bring her stuff. We just kind of laugh it off right now. I'm kind of thinking now, what's the harm? But I'm just not sure. So we aren't making a big deal either way yet, and we will decide soon. But we will most likely go with no Santa again. I'm just afraid she will be more verbal and ruin it for some other kid!

I like the fun, fantasy part too, so I almost want to have just a 'little' bit of Santa!!

It's tough having to make parental decisions, huh?

Ok, I am finished with my hijack of your blog now!! ;0)

Meredith said...

I really like what you told your girls--what a nice and understandable way to explain that children shouldn't tell others what to believe.

Unfortunately, the family of 8 visiting next door told my kindergartener that "your parents are liars and they are going to h___ because of Santa" and "you are going to h___ because you celebrate Halloween."

Where's the love in that?

Katie said...

We tell the kids that Santa is a game people like to play - and they shouldn't spoil the game for other people.
St. Nicholas was a real person, but sometimes people like to make stuff up and add on because it's a fun part of the game. Like when they play with their animals- the animals are real, but they don't actually wear shoes or eat cupcakes, etc.

We don't "do" Santa, but the kids still have stockings. We don't "do" the Easter bunny, but we still make Easter baskets for the kids.

Karen said...

I just posted about this the other day! (Great minds, I guess...)

Our family pretty much takes the tack like Katie. We read the stories, sing the songs, watch the specials but we don't say anything about Santa actually bringing presents. We feel like this gives us the best of both worlds.

We have also told our daughters that some people really believe in Santa and they are not to "enlighten" them and that it is "okay" to pretend just for the fun of it.

Sadly it seems to me that more adults are wrapped up in perpetuating Santa Claus than their kids actually are. But that's just my opinion and I'll try to keep it to my blog. :)

Candace & Anna said...

I will be the exception here. I am looking forward to the memories we will make for Anna. I don't see the harm in making Santa a part of Christmas as long as you make sure they know the real reason for the season. I believed in Santa and was told as long as I believed he would bring presents. To this day I still believe lol! I believe that Santa does exist in all of us. He isn't a person per say but a feeling a presence of sorts. I never felt cheated or lied too, in fact my cousins were never allowed to believe in Santa and I always felt awful for them even as a small child that they weren't allowed to believe in the "magic" of Christmas. I know that Jesus is the reason for Christmas and Anna will know that too but she will also enjoy Santa for as long as she can. We expect our kids to grow up so fast these days when we should allow them to be young as long as possible.

WendyDarling said...

When my nephew came to live with us his parents were going through a divorce. They had done the "santa thing" with him, and did not want us to tell him any different. I told them we wouldn't "play it up", but I wouldn't tell him that he wasn't real unless he asked me. I would not lie to him, because he needed to know he could trust us.

When he was 5 he asked me, "Is Santa real?" I responded, "What do you think?" He said, "No, I don't think he real." I said, "Well, you're right. He isn't. But, there really was a man named St. Nicholas..." and that is when we did a whole study about "Christmas around the world." We checked out books, made different foods, etc. It was really cool.

I also told him about the "spirit of giving", and that is when HE became Santa Claus. He had chosen a child or elderly person from the angel tree since he was 2 years ol, but now that he "was in the know" he truly became their Santa Claus. Of course, we stress Jesus' birthday, etc. He totally gets the Christian aspect, but it really helped when he got to "become Santa Claus."