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Experience NOT doing Santa with kids?? Please help

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

I am looking to learn from other people in going against mainstream on on this one.  ECing, BFing, noTV, etc. ....I didn't have too many questions about as they made sense and are working for us.  This Santa and X-mas in general has me a questioning a bit because there are so many ramifications.  I looked at some older threads and while a lot of people were not planning to do so, I would like to see how that all turned out.

Our plan thus far as a non-religious/atheist is just to say that Santa is a tradition of sharing/ giving or a story.  DD just turned 3 and is pretty astute.  I would not feel comfortable lying to her at all to perpetuate a lot of things that I don't even like about the "X-mas season".  I am consenting to exchanging 1 gift exchange with DD for DH's.  I would chuck X-mas altogether, but that is what we have come to agree upon at this point.  He liked the idea of having 3 gifts for each person based upon that is what Jesus had.  Well, I don't like that as I don't want to emphasize the religious aspect.  However, we would empahasize making gifts, singing a song, writing a poem, etc.  We also would like to take a hike and go decorate a tree in the woods, but this year we will be traveling and be with family.  

 

I certainly do not expect that we will spend a lot more X-mas's with family and certainly will never spend it with mine EVER as I was done with their version of X-mas years ago.  I don't necessarily have pleasant memories of X-mas.  I would get tons of gifts, but never what I wanted.  I would have traded tons of gifts for one thing that I actually wanted.  I hated getting lots of junk and having to feel grateful for junk.  One of the best gifts I ever got was going to get a real tree.  Mom had (and still has 40 years later) has the same fake tree.  I was a senior in high school and Dad surprised us with a visit to a tree lot (would have been a lot cooler story if we could have gone to an actual farm).  I am a tree hugger, so don't get me wrong on this point....it is just an example.

 

I would like to hear your experience about what you might have done differently or what you did do that really worked if you did NOT do Santa.  Many people wish that they hadn't but I get one run at this and I would like to gather info from the community for making my attempt to go through this the best I possibly can.  I feel like her age and the season have both crept up on me.  I was not even thinking about it and then realized we are spending X-mas with family and will be singing X-mas songs soon with a music program. Hmmm.....  

 

Other questions to consider:

 

1.  Instructing child what to say to other children about Santa?

2.  What to do about other people asking her what she wants from Santa?

3.  Any surprises that I should anticipate?  How did you deal with them?

4.  Did you exchange gifts? Any number limitations/ explanations?  How do your children answer questions about not getting gifts from Santa? 

5.  Did the kids feel "left out" from the Santa experience?

 

Any other advice would be great!

 

Thanks

post #2 of 28

I did not want to teach my child about any mainstream holidays.  However, we had tv from the time she was 1 until recently at 7.  She also went to xmas with her dad to CA and her aunt's read her xmas stories about Santa.  I had even told xh that he needed to intervene if his family began teaching about santa or jesus.  she heard about both on that visit, and even though none of them are religious, I sure shouldve been the one telling her about it all.  she was 3.5.  NAK making this hard.  i have to try again later

post #3 of 28

My kiddos are 8 and 11.We always got them gifts. I explained the history of santa,and how many familys like to pretend that santa is real/still alive. They know that some kids grow up thinking santa man buys them things if they were good. My kids know that their parents/family buy them things.We bought more things when they were younger,but now we focus more on getting them a few items they really want.

 

I can not recall any issues with friends/school. They just went through the motions in school.

All the holiday activities were looked at as a way for people to get through winter. They understand the different religious activities and/or cultural traditions.To us the holidays is just a cozy time to spend together. We have a fake tree only because we do not want to kill a tree every year.If I was in the mood we might get a smaller pine that we could replant in the spring.

 

Like religion the winter holidays never seemed to be a big deal.We all take different *paths*. We watch santa movies and all that.Not sure what my kids will do with THIER kids,but I am glad to never have gone the *santa is real* route.

post #4 of 28
Quote:
1. Instructing child what to say to other children about Santa?

2. What to do about other people asking her what she wants from Santa?

3. Any surprises that I should anticipate? How did you deal with them?

4. Did you exchange gifts? Any number limitations/ explanations? How do your children answer questions about not getting gifts from Santa?

5. Did the kids feel "left out" from the Santa experience?
We are religious (Catholic) and have never done Santa. Apart from the religious parts of the holiday which don't seem relevant to you (like midnight mass and the story of Jesus's birth), here are some things we do: go for a hike in the winter woods, some years get a real tree and decorate it, make lots of christmas cookies, have a big meal with family on or around christmas day (often going to a few different ones over the season because i have relatives in different areas near us), sing christmas songs, share a few presents (like one or two per person...my extended family often gets DS more presents, which i don't mind as i will re-gift or donate any gifts which seem excessive or do not fit with our values...like toy guns or something), and we will do stockings on christmas morning.

gifts are NOT the focus of our christmas, although they are a fun part of it. we try to make homemade gifts as much as possible. last year, i made DS a book of poetry and gave homemade jam to the rest of my family. this year, we'll be in Peru for christmas, so i'm not planning on doing anything beyond the traditional Peruvian christmas eve midnight dinner of spaghetti (seriously...not sure how that tradition came about). no snow, no big christmas anything here, most people end up having a party (like drinking and dancing) after the midnight meal, it just doesn't make for the same feel for christmas! no warm, cozy family moments...

not doing Santa was as easy as just never talking about it...we do read some books which talk about the santa story or sing some songs which mention Santa, but i've always said that some people like to tell this story about Santa and how he brings presents, but it's just a pretend story. my son hasn't ever really been interested in going beyond that. my extended family is not huge on Santa, but they will occasionally ask "what did Santa get you for christmas?" and my son who is 5 gets that they just want to know if he got any cool presents...I haven't told him not to tell other kids that Santa isn't real. It really hasn't seemed like a big deal at all--no major incidents, no fallout from the family, no complaints from DS...
post #5 of 28
1.  Instructing child what to say to other children about Santa?

2.  What to do about other people asking her what she wants from Santa?

3.  Any surprises that I should anticipate?  How did you deal with them?

4.  Did you exchange gifts? Any number limitations/ explanations?  How do your children answer questions about not getting gifts from Santa? 

5.  Did the kids feel "left out" from the Santa experience?



We have never done Santa. My oldest is 7. We have approached it from the "some people like to pretend.." angle. They know where it comes from to some extent, we love Christmas and Christmas movies/books, even if they include santa. But the kids know that santa is pretend, just like they know the grinch is pretend.

 

I never really instructed my children on what to say. I told them that some people like to pretend he's real and he does this and that. They have never told another child (to my knowledge) that he is not real. I don't think it's really something that comes up.

 

Sometimes people ask them what they're getting from Santa or something similar. They have always said they don't know or nothing. My younger kids just look confused. :lol

 

We do exchange gifts. We do *Christmas* we just don't do santa. The kids each get three gifts, or at least after the first two years. The first two years we have always done one gift just because they're so little and don't seem to care for getting presents or anything so it seems silly to get them three gifts just for the sake of getting them three gifts. Getting them one gift just for the sake of getting them anything at all seems less silly for some reason. :) When asked what they got from Santa (it's only happened a few times) they said nothing. And I mean they said "nothing" not that they just didn't answer of course. No one has ever pressed the issue, but I'm pretty confident in my kids ability to answer whatever they are asked and don't feel like I need to come up with responses for them.

 

My kids do not, to my knowledge, feel left out because we don't do Santa. I don't think it's really been brought up much to them. We don't really celebrate Christmas with other families though, just us. Sometimes we go see our families but they live far away and we do not have any neices or nephews so they are the only kids there when we do visit family.

post #6 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhf View Post

1.  Instructing child what to say to other children about Santa?

2.  What to do about other people asking her what she wants from Santa?

3.  Any surprises that I should anticipate?  How did you deal with them?

4.  Did you exchange gifts? Any number limitations/ explanations?  How do your children answer questions about not getting gifts from Santa? 

5.  Did the kids feel "left out" from the Santa experience?



We have never done Santa. My oldest is 7. We have approached it from the "some people like to pretend.." angle. They know where it comes from to some extent, we love Christmas and Christmas movies/books, even if they include santa. But the kids know that santa is pretend, just like they know the grinch is pretend.

 

I never really instructed my children on what to say. I told them that some people like to pretend he's real and he does this and that. They have never told another child (to my knowledge) that he is not real. I don't think it's really something that comes up.

 

Sometimes people ask them what they're getting from Santa or something similar. They have always said they don't know or nothing. My younger kids just look confused. :lol

 

 



All of this.  We are very religious but have never "done" Santa.

 

The only thing I would add is that I did tell my kids along the way that "most" people believe in Santa so they shouldn't say anything to them about it. 

post #7 of 28

Well, we are Christians but we haven't done Santa.

 

I've told my children that "Santa" is a make-believe game some families like to do.  I also told them the history behind it, and the real man behind the legend.

 

For telling others, I have told them that because it's a make-believe game, we don't need to spoil it for others just because we don't do it, so they don't need to inform their friends about Santa, or be snotty when adults ask about Santa.

 

We do small gifts within our family.  Usually something made, or something bought that was inexpensive but fits the child's personality.  They get other gifts from extended family.

 

I do have one child who would looooove to do the Santa game.  He the same child who was enthralled by Halloween, while his two brothers were just disturbed by it all.  It's a personality thing, and I'm dealing with it from that angle.  We do lots of other fun stuff around the Christmas holiday, and I remind him of that often.

post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by la mamita View Post


not doing Santa was as easy as just never talking about it...we do read some books which talk about the santa story or sing some songs which mention Santa, but i've always said that some people like to tell this story about Santa and how he brings presents, but it's just a pretend story


 



Quote:
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post

 

I've told my children that "Santa" is a make-believe game some families like to do.  I also told them the history behind it, and the real man behind the legend.

 

For telling others, I have told them that because it's a make-believe game, we don't need to spoil it for others

I like this. This is what I do too, basically.

 

I wouldn't even mind 'doing' the Santa game, if a child wanted that, as long as everyone was aware of the 'pretend' aspect. Knowing that something is 'pretend' doesn't make stories, cartoons, plays, etc., any less fun. 
 

post #9 of 28

 

1.  Instructing child what to say to other children about Santa?

 

I told them some people believe in Santa and we don't want to be the pones to ruin their day but that we also should not lie.  Just change the subject. :lol

 

2.  What to do about other people asking her what she wants from Santa?

 

They usually just say "we don't do santa".  

 

3.  Any surprises that I should anticipate?  How did you deal with them?

 

My kids have never really cared about santa. 

 

4.  Did you exchange gifts? Any number limitations/ explanations?  How do your children answer questions about not getting gifts from Santa? 

 

We do gifts.  no limits.  I usually get them something practical, something fun, something crafty and  pajamas.  but it changes from year to year.  Whatever.  If someone asks them what they got from santa they just go on about what they got.

 

5.  Did the kids feel "left out" from the Santa experience?

 

No, they get gifts, what do they care about "santa".  They don't care where they came from.  And it is not like the santa thing lasts more than a few years anyway.

 

We never made a big deal out of it and they never made a big deal out of santa.  So many people don't do santa that few people care anymore.  They thought of him as a disney character for the longest time.  So if you asked them is Santa real.  Of course he was,  a real story book character.  they usually didn't get the finer point of that question.   They generally pitied kids whose parents were lying to them and I was always honest with them about I did not want to lie to them and then have them be sad.  But we do gifts and have a good time celebrating.  We celebrate St Nicholas day with stockings (Dec. 6) and they have chocolate coins and little fun things and religious themed gifts (new book, small icon, a cross or prayer braceltte) but that is really separate from Christmas.  We celebrate Christmas by going to church Christmas eve, eating junk food (we fast from all meat, dairy, eggs, oil and wine from Nov 15 until Christmas eve after church) and opening a few presents.  Then on a good year back to church Christmas morning.  Its pretty low key.  There is really no where Santa would fit into our celebration.  They have never said a word about it.

post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by babeak View Post

Other questions to consider:

 

1.  Instructing child what to say to other children about Santa?

2.  What to do about other people asking her what she wants from Santa?

3.  Any surprises that I should anticipate?  How did you deal with them?

4.  Did you exchange gifts? Any number limitations/ explanations?  How do your children answer questions about not getting gifts from Santa? 

5.  Did the kids feel "left out" from the Santa experience?

 

 

We do not teach Santa for religious reasons, that said..

 

1.) We have told our dd about Saint Nicholas, we have also told her that Santa doesn't come to our house. We do exchange gifts at Christmas and we've already told her that if she gets gifts at Christmas it's because we are blessed to be able to give gifts to eachother.

2.) She tells people that her mama and daddy buy her presents.

3.) Preschool has mentioned previously having problems with children insisting that the non-celebrating child is "naughty" and that is why Santa doesn't go to thier house.

4.) We do exchange gifts at Christmas as well as doing stockings. Nothing terribly extravagant. 

5.) Not that I know of, though this year we are going to be skipping a day of preschool because Santa is coming to visit...

 

post #11 of 28

1.  What to say to other kids about Santa

 

I never instructed my kids about this.  They have read Christmas books, movies, and such with Santa in it.  As far as they are concerned, Santa belongs in the world of stories and seem to assume other kids are talking about the same thing.

 

2.  When other people ask what they want from Santa

 

We've come across this and it was quite funny.  My ds was three at the time, looked at the woman like she wasn't quite all there and said "My mom buys my Christmas gift".

 

3.  Any surprises and dealing with them?

 

last year, when my children were 3, 2, and newborn ... people from the general public and my parents (who are Christian and never did it for us)  were actually offended that we weren't pretending Santa with our kids.  It seemed like we were going to be ruining Christmas for our children.  "It would be so much fun for them" and "why wouldn't you?" were common comments.  Depending on how rude they were when they asked me, I either told them I don't believe it's ok to lie to my kids or that I don't want to make up a story for them, only to tell them a few years later none of it was real.

 

My kids themselves could care less about Santa.  They look forward to any reason to celebrate and Christmas is no exception.  It's a great time for them to do something special, who cares about Santa?  

 

4.  Exchanging gifts ...

 

Yes.  But we are very limited with this.  We wrap up things our kids would need anyways and put them under the tree -- they are young enough that this is fun.  Socks, underwear, pj's, a new diaper has been found under the tree.  It's also a time their art supplies are replenished.  They each get one new toy.

 

5.  Do they feel left out?

 

Nah, I honestly think they could care less.  We do, however, celebrate Christmas.  I think it would be different if we did absolutely nothing whatsoever.  No gift, no special food, no getting together with anyone, no parties, no decorating, no cookie baking, nothing at all.  My DH and I make a conscious effort to shift the focus of Christmas away from gifts and have that as a small part of our celebration.  We have a lot of fun decorating up the house, visiting friends, family; giving to people; making (and eating) Christmas foods; and spending time together.  We want our kids to remember Christmas as much more than the present they got.

post #12 of 28

I decided that we are going to skip the whole Santa thing too. However, we will certainly read books about Christmas and Santa. Santa will simply be another character to pretend to be, or pretend to hear, or pretend to eat (my toddler is totally into pretending to eat people-not sure where that came from!!). Just like Lily or Owen or any other Kevin Henkes character he is crazy about.

 

We will do stockings because I like doing them for everyone. I take joy in getting small and inexpensive but thoughtful gifts for us for our stcokings.

 

He will be 31 mos at Christmas so it will be interesting to see how much of the Santa stuff he absorbs anyway. But, I am not going to pretend he is real and ds will know all his gifts come from real people.

post #13 of 28

I have a slightly different take.  We did Santa with our oldest 2 due to pressure from family.  My kids are 12 and 13 now and have actually expressed that it would have been better to not personally "do" Santa, but enjoy it as a make believe game up front.  This is what we do now. 

 

Of course, I never gave Santa credit for the really good stuff anyway....smile.gif

 

If we ever have another child we will talk about Santa/Easter Bunny etc.. as a fun game people like to play...so play along upsidedown.gif

post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for your responses.  It is definitely reassuring.  

 

FatAprodite....that is interesting..you know my DD was not quite 2.5 for her first Easter Egg hunt and she was very into hiding the eggs.  That was another difficult holiday for me because of all of the candy....as was halloween.    For some reason the way you stated your post really resonated with me.  Thanks.  I love games and never really thought about it is a playing a game.

 

I now have more confidence as I have done Easter without candy amongst all of her cousins....they were wanting some her dried mango and pineapple and the tiny tape measures that the young ones got   ;-)    We also did halloween this year and went to several carnivals/ festivals with both of us dressed up.  I just told the game attendants that we were not doing candy and she got little trinkets/ toys....though hello gum tape measure is still junk candy we don't want.  It was the games that were fun, not the getting of stuff.  It really became apparent to me at the last of the last games where they were rushing DD through a ball toss and trying to give her candy.  I am like there is no one behind us...just let her play with the balls.  Geez!  It is too bad that all of the holidays pedal a lot of bad stuff:  excess consumerism, etc. at X-mas, excess candy at Easter and Halloween, etc.  Why can't we just enjoy the holidays without those things?  The mere suggestion that we try to make arrangements at Easter with my family ruffled my brother's feathers and lead to some jeering about my beliefs.   However, mission was accomplished as my DD got to participate in the fun of Easter anyway.  It is extra hard because I live way far away from family and it is hard that the only times we get to see them is on holidays and I would really rather have the holiday be spent the way we would like to spend it rather than having to complicate things by having strong beliefs counter to mainstream.

 

I feel better prepared now and not as worried about what kids/adults think, say and do about the topic of Santa.

 

Thanks

 

P.S.  I guess the good thing too is that she is not in preschool.  Perhaps by the time she actually enters school in K, it won't be that big of a deal.  I just remember writing letters to Santa about what presents I wanted etc.  I guess we can just make that as part of the pretend game/ traditions or request that teachers do alternate activity.

 

 

post #15 of 28

Why would pretending to write a letter to a fictional character who can grant wishes be something you would object to?  So long as the teacher wasn't selling it as real.

post #16 of 28

Quote:

1.  Instructing child what to say to other children about Santa?

2.  What to do about other people asking her what she wants from Santa?

3.  Any surprises that I should anticipate?  How did you deal with them?

4.  Did you exchange gifts? Any number limitations/ explanations?  How do your children answer questions about not getting gifts from Santa? 

5.  Did the kids feel "left out" from the Santa experience?


We haven't reached what to tell K to say to other kids... She really only sees other children at church. Nobody has asked her what she wants from Santa, but we did see a Santa in the mall. She tried to remember his name and it was pretty funny. We told her that some kids get their pictures taken with him around Christmas but she didn't have to. We do let her wear a little santa dress (and M gets a santa outfit too) and hat at Christmas to hand out gifts. She doesn't think anythin of it yet... but I imagine she'll have questions later and we'll just explain it to her. We exchange gifts just like everyone else. I've explained to her that the presents are because it is Jesus' birthday. She hasn't yet thought to ask why we get them and not him.

 

I never believed in Santa as a kid. And neither did my siblings. My mom said she worked too hard to get us the things we wanted for someone who doesn't exist to get the credit. Haha. And I feel that is true. In addition... Kids only believe in Santa for such a short time... what's the point? Why lie to your kids for a few years only to have to deal with the heartbreak when they find out you were indeed lying? I'd rather skip it.

post #17 of 28

I don't think ds feels left out. he knows we don't celebrate christmas and he seems ok with it. I told him the whole story in his terms, the origin of christmas and how it is not really Jesus birthday and all that, and he gets it. However he likes presents and he thinks christmas is pretty. Which it is (the decorations) When people ask him about Christmas lately he has been saying (of his own accord) "Santa isn't real and Christmas is a lie." Which is very embarrasing to me, because not everyone feels that way and I don't want to offend other people. But, that is his interpretation of why we don't celebrate it. I also told him not to tell the toher kids that Santa isn't real. But he can't understand why their parents would lie to them  and frankly I haven't come up with a good enough explanation. So, I'm still figuring that one out. He is very black and white right now...even though he gets "pretend" he is really into "you're a liar" about everything in general. If I say I'm in the bathroom brushing my teeth and he then sees me combing my hair, "mommy, you LIED to me." So that has translated over into Christmas.

 

about gifts.....we don't do christmas gifts, but I do buy him actual presents (with tissue paper to unwrap and all that) for various occasions, so he isn't missing out on the whole gift giving experience.

post #18 of 28

I would instruct my child on how others have different religious and cultural beliefs and we need to respect them. Then tell her exactly how to answer when people ask her those questions. My children have celebrated many different holidays that are not a part of our culture or religion, but they have learned to respect and even embrace those times. 

 

I hope that helps.

post #19 of 28
Thread Starter 

lilyka....because exactly that!  I think that the teacher said that we would mail them to the North Pole and was I surprised to see it years later in my papers that my mom saved.  I am pretty sure that it was not sold as a pretend letter.  I think that I would start having problems if the teacher tries to do any selling of the idea at all.  I also have a problem with the concept of writing a letter to ask for the sole purpose of asking for a present.  Strikes me as icky....maybe it probably has to do with my own experiences.

 

 

post #20 of 28

Most of my family, myself included grew up in Sovet Union where we celebrated New Year and Christmas was strictly religious experience, devoid of big parties and presents. New Year Eve was the time when everyone celebrated and "Ded Moroz" (granpa Frost- equivalent of Santa) was expected to come with presents. Kids were encuraged to believe in him, write letters, etc but there was not as much pressure about it as it is in US.

Since moving to US my family adopted the secular version of Christmas complete with party and presents after church service. We do "Santa" buy putting all of the presents in the bag or under a tree and designate one person who gets to wear a "santa" hat to distribute the gifts. So our kids know that "Santa" is a pretend person.

Also our church hosts a "St. Nicholas" festival first weekend of November every year and kids get to get their pictures taken with our prist dressed up as St. Nicholas  (prototipe of Santa) and hear the legend about St. Nicholas helping two young maids by putting gold coins in their stockins at night.

My DD is three and a half and we never had any questions come up about Santa, but if they did we would answer them by stating that people pretend that Santa exists and brings them presents to make a holiday season more exiting.

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