Another blogger I follow recently posed the question on facebook, do you do the Santa thing?
This is something that I have thought about quite a bit, even before I ever had a child. Would I “do the Santa thing” with my child?
As Evelyn gets older, Michael and I really have to solidify our holiday traditions. This year will be her third Christmas, and while she is just turning two, she is so very aware. Already, she knows Santa Claus. She doesn’t really know what he does, but she can pick him out in a line-up. She also knows he’s “coming to town” and loves to sing for all the world to know. But she has no idea about presents or chimneys or flying reindeer or a naughty list and the more I think about all that “the Santa thing” entails, the more I’m sure we won’t do it with Evelyn.
This image has been floating around the internet and it really puts a visual to the approach I plan to take regarding Santa.
Santa is a pretty likable guy. I have nothing against him. I am not anti-Santa. But I really don’t like the idea of lying to my kids…even if it is just for “fun”. Yes, my parents did the Santa thing and I turned out fine, but they never went to the extreme to make me “believe” and I knew pretty early on that Santa wasn’t real.
So, while we aren’t planning to do Santa, we aren’t going to hide him from Evelyn or demonize him. The man behind the legend was raised with Christian values by wealthy parents. They died when he was rather young and he used his inheritance to help the poor, particularly children. Unfortunately, low income children these days are less likely to receive gifts from Santa and the Santa that we know today is very far removed from the man who helped the poor. He’s more like a character in a story…just like Elmo and Curious George (her faves). He is fictional. So, we will read The Night Before Christmas every year. We will tell the story of St. Nick. She will know the legend. She will understand that some people like to dress up like Santa and pretend to be him. Hopefully, we will also be able to teach her that others do believe and to respect their right to do that. I don’t want her to be the kid that teases other kids for believing. Just like I wouldn’t want her to be teased for her beliefs.
I know people who would argue that by not doing the Santa thing, we are robbing our child of her imagination and the “magic” of Christmas. I would argue that planning out an elaborate scheme to convince a child that Santa exists does not foster the imagination. Children are imaginative all on their own.
So, how will we celebrate? What will our traditions look like?
Several years ago, a co-worker told me that when her son was young, they didn’t have a lot of money. She couldn’t afford to get him a lot for Christmas so she would give him three gifts, to represent the gifts given to the baby Jesus by the Three Kings. If three gifts were good enough for the baby Jesus, it had to be good enough for their family. That story has stuck with me and now, as I look ahead to Christmas, I have three gifts for Evelyn, and as she gets older and becomes involved in the giving part of Christmas, she will help Michael and I choose three gifts for each other as well. I like the idea of three simple gifts. She will always know what to expect and hopefully not feel entitled to mountains and mountains of presents. I suppose that part of my problem with the Santa thing is the materialism that comes along with it. I don’t want her to expect anything and everything she asks for and to be disappointed if she doesn’t get it. I would much rather focus on the giving part of the holiday rather than the receiving part.
I’m sure we will also incorporate other traditions from our own childhoods and create new ones as we go forward. Santa will be there, but he won’t be the focus.
What do your Christmas traditions look like? Do you do the Santa thing?