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Pros and Cons of "doing Santa"?

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 

Please help me process through this. 

 

I was raised Catholic by a very strict and rigid family.  Christmas was a huge consume-y extravaganza with a lot of Church. And a lot of "Santa is watching you.  Be good."  I believed in Santa for a very long time, loved the stories and TV specials.  I started questioning my religion as a teen, and had rejected the Catholic Church by High School, much to my mother's dismay.  Now,  I would say my beliefs are a blend of New Age and Humanism.  I also am big on ritual and tradition, and DH and I have spent 15 years together creating family rituals specific to us - we have plenty of Winter traditions, we do put up a tree for example...but not having a child until now ...we never really sorted out SANTA.

 

DH was one of 3 non Jewish kids in his entire Elementary School, so Christmas obviously was not a big part of his community and he says that he can't remember ever believing in Santa.  He says he would have been laughed out of school.  His family celebrated Christmas, sans church - and he equates Santa with a fictional character...."like Elmo" (his words)

 

DS is 2. We are trying to figure out how our family will handle the Holidays.  Our community is diverse, but most of his friends (the children of moms that I met in pre-natal yoga mostly) "do" Santa.  Now that I think about it, all but one are Christian!  So guess, not that diverse.... We are one of the few AP families that I know.  We are the only vegetarian family in our circles.  I mention this stuff, because in many ways DS is already the odd man out socially.

 

Here is what I am struggling with.  It feels really weird to lie to my son. As much as I love Christmastime, it just. feels. weird.  But.  (And it's a big but) he just turned 2 Oct 7, so in so many ways, he is a baby, attached to me; maybe I am too close to see him as the little boy, excited about the magical holiday that he will be soon....but he is a citizen of the world and more specifically of his community and 1. Do I want to deny him of the magic?   2..ESP when we operate left of the mainstream in so much of our life - am I taking away something kind of Universal about childhood?  3.  OY.  Our families will pitch a fit. 

 

I kind of like DHs experience.  Santa wasn't a huge thing - just something his family did among other seasonal stuff, kind of acknowledging that it was all pretend, and all going along with it....but I think he had that experience in part because he was growing up in a Jewish enclave.  DS is not having that experience.

 

For the life of me, I don't know how to NOT do Santa, if that makes sense....my own experience is so limited.

 

If we do "do Santa" there will be one gift on Xmas morning.  We will talk about the story of Jesus' birth, as we will talk about lots of stories from lots of religions all year long.  Perhaps we will celebrate Solstice and exchange family gifts then, and make the season about giving more than receiving....

 

I am sorry for the ramble.  I could really use some insight.  Can we discuss the pros and cons of doing Santa?

 

TIA

 

 

post #2 of 63

Mostly I am just subbing as I don't really have anything constructive to add.  DS is 3.5 and we've managed to avoid Santa talk up to this point.  I think what we're planning on doing is presenting Santa as a fictional character...like Elmo ;).  I'd like him to have some of the magic of pretending/telling stories, etc. about Santa without lying to him.  It just doesn't sit well with me. 

post #3 of 63
Thread Starter 

APToddlerMama, please tell me how you avoid Santa talk?  It's not even Halloween and I have already heard one Mama on the playground mention Santa, "maybe Santa will bring you that tricycle" ....

post #4 of 63
We never did Santa with our kids. But if you send them to public school it creeps in. You have to tell them that Santa is a fairy tale and some families like to pretend he's real... so you coach your kids into not spoiling the secret for others. As far as I know, my kids never told.


It helps that we used to travel with our kids at holiday time. They always came back to school with postcards and tokens of places they'd visited and so were able to re-direct the "what did santa bring you" talk.

We do solstice. A big soup and solstice party with our friends and neighbors at Dec 21st. No presents. A tiny potted tree covered with suns. A bonfire and candlelight.

No shopping.
No crowds.
No drama over presents given or received.
No rushing.

Just warmth and light and the company of fine friends.
post #5 of 63

I don't know if I have any suggestions, but I can empathize. Christmas and Santa were a huge freaking deal in my family growing up. HUGE. My mom went over the top with holiday decorations, baking, etc. and then Christmas day itself was almost unbearably exciting with some many little rituals to build up the anticipation of Santa, and then finally getting a huge pile of gifts!

 

At this point in my life, I have so many conflicting feelings about it all. It really was very exciting & fun as a kid to have the holidays turned into such a production. And my mom was wonderful at it, and since she died in 1998, I have found that the rosy glow around my memories of her are stronger than my memories of the stress/difficulty surrounding her devotion to the holidays. I wish my mom were around to give my DD a taste of what that kind of Christmas is all about, but there's no way I can re-create it for her. Not that I'd want to! The holidays totally stress me out, in part because I always feel myself falling short of those high expectations! And I'm really trying to forge a less materialistic, less frantic lifestyle for my DD.

 

So. DD is only 3, and we've gotten through 3 Christmases just fine. We focus on traveling to visit family and doing family gifts, but really focusing more on sharing food, singing, hanging out together. I find the holidays mostly fun & manageable, even with my DP's family. We've mostly avoided Santa talk.

 

But this year DD is in school, so I expect things to change. I'm not sure how. I just know that she's got a whole new set of influences in her life, and peer culture is a powerful thing.

 

Anyway, I will continue to read with interest to find out how things are working out for you!

post #6 of 63

I have this problem as well, in a major way.  I grew up with the whole nine yards myself, got in a fistfight defending Santa's authenticity in the 2nd or 3rd grade, and was OUTRAGED to discover that I had been fully in the wrong and lied to by my own mother.  My two sisters never felt this way.  My oldest sister was very touched when she found out that Mum had bought all those presents over the years, because we grew up in a single-parent family with very tight finances. 

When I was 18 I started converting to Judaism (for totally unrelated reasons obviously), spent many years observing orthodox ways here and in Israel, and eventually grew dissillusioned with it to the point that I stopped almost all observances (I still cannot bring myself to eat pork or shellfish for example), married a lapsed Catholic, and did not circumcize my son (now 22 mos). 

My DH thinks that all the 'regular' holidays are just fun for kids, with no harm in them, and definately to be shared with DS.  I of course see them all as christian holidays, even the parts that are not truly part of chrisitan religion.  Although I no longer practice Judaism, the sense of having firmly rejected christianity is very strong, but at the same time, I don't really have a Jewish leg to stand anymore either. 

Before DS, we never observed Xmas in any way except to visit with family for dinner.  Last year we did buy a small potted tree as a compromise.  This is the first year we will have to deal with Santa, and I dread it immensly.  I am already reluctantly allowing Halloween dressing up, which also brings the whole candy problem, argh.

Phew. what a tirade.

Maybe I can talk him into Solstice as a truly non-denominational alternative....

post #7 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post

We never did Santa with our kids. But if you send them to public school it creeps in. You have to tell them that Santa is a fairy tale and some families like to pretend he's real... so you coach your kids into not spoiling the secret for others. As far as I know, my kids never told.

Same with us.  We are very "religious" and celebrate Christmas but we've never told them to believe in Santa.  We talked about Santa in a very casual way and it's a fun story in our house.  It wasn't a big deal either way until last Christmas when my kindy-aged daughter was convinced there was a Santa because classmates had convinced her so.  I tried to say there wasn't but after a few times of her breaking down sobbing and saying "Yes, he is real!"  I let it go and didn't try to convince her he wasn't real.  That notion went away after a few weeks and it went back to the way it was before.

 

And I can see where CI Mama is coming from.  I enjoy "the holidays" but I don't like to focus on that time in a huge way.  We do a tree for the kids and exchange gifts but I don't want it to be a build-up and explosion thing.  I just like the idea that we can all treat each other with care and respect every single day of the year.

post #8 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by lemontree View Post

APToddlerMama, please tell me how you avoid Santa talk?  It's not even Halloween and I have already heard one Mama on the playground mention Santa, "maybe Santa will bring you that tricycle" ....



Lol.  Well so far this year it has been easy because I've been hospitalized for weeks in PTL, so we're not at any playgrounds.  Last year, DS was 2.5 and does have some speech delays, etc. so any talk of Santa totally went over his head.  As far as relatives bringing it up a few times last year, we just said things like "yeah, it IS fun to play pretend and talk about Santa."  DS had no clue what was going on, but at least it was a heads up for them.

 

post #9 of 63

We do Santa, because I love it. (So far, two of my kids have figured it all out - ds1 a looooonnnng time ago, as he's 18 - and they've been fine with it.) But, I don't think it's an essential part of it, if a person doesn't want to do it. If you want to, but don't like the lying part, why not just present Santa as a fictional being, and then make the stockings or a gift or whatever "from Santa". It can still be fun, even when everyone's in the know. My mom's done a few "Santa" gifts over the years (at least, I know one of them was mom, and I think the others were), even since we became adults.

post #10 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ma Cactus View Post

< Maybe I can talk him into Solstice as a truly non-denominational alternative....

http://www.amazon.com/Solstice-Tree-Jenny-Search-Future/dp/1573929301

My dh was raised Jewish.. I was at the knees of fundie parents and felt lied to at an early age. The solstice thing is very healing for me. As far a the "soup and solstice" thing I throw.. I think I invented it. And its a huge hit with our multi-cultural neighbors who don't always understand the hustle and oddness of the American xmas experience.
post #11 of 63

We "do" Santa here too.  I have so much fun with it!  Like pps I remember the excitement and "magic" of Christmas very fondly.  I had no disappointment or sense of breaking-of-trust when I learned that Santa wasn't real.  I guess I "got it" that Santa is a thing that little kids believe in (that parents "play" with little kids), and now that I'm big I'm "in on it".  We continued to "do Santa" though even once I knew.  We would still put out stockings, and milk and cookies on Christmas eve and everything.  It was just fun pretend.  And I also enjoyed being in on the stocking stuffing once I got older.

 

For whatever it's worth I wasn't raised with any religion, and I still am not religious.

 

post #12 of 63

I'm Catholic. We did Santa when I was growing up. I'm the youngest and for years I pretended to believe in Santa. I was afraid if told my parents I knew there was no Santa I would stop getting so many presents at Christmas (since "Santa" brought so many).

 

With my kids I'm not doing Santa per se, but I'm not bursting their bubble and saying he isn't real. We don't play up Santa. Basically, I'm going to do what I'd normally do for Christmas. If other people play up Santa to my kids, I don't care. If he believes, fine, if not, no biggie. If he asks me if there is a Santa, I'll ask what he thinks, and go from there. I'm not going to convince him one way or the other about him. That's at least our plan so far.

post #13 of 63

I had a similar experience to another poster where I did not take it well that santa was not real. I was crushed. We have never done Santa. My oldest child is in 3rd grade now and is 8, 9 right after x-mas. It honestly has never been an issue, ever. When she was younger, we presented santa as a fictional character like dora and that was that for years. When she was 5-6 then we started talking about how some people believed santa was a real person. She knows (or knew, I doubt many in her class still think he is real) to play along like he is real and not to reveal the secret to other kids. I never coached her on what to say but rather we just had discussions about how upsetting it would to tell other children, she chose to play along if adults asked her about santa. DD1 has always been a very literal child, her world is black or white, shades of grey do not exist for her. I did ask her last x-mas if she thought she missed out because we did not do santa, she didn't think so and was glad that we had never done it. We also elect out of the tooth fairy and easter bunny as well. DD2 turns 5 this weekend and is more much into fantasy play. She does pretend santa is real just like she pretends she is a princess or fairy. She isn't really aware yet that kids think santa is real but she is also of the age where most days she thinks she really is princess as well. 

 

I've yet to meet another family locally that doesn't do santa except for religious reasons. I have always been surprised by that actually. I doubted my decision the first couple years but now I am firmly ok with it. I couldn't of gone through with the pretense of santa. It still feels very unsettling to me. 

 

ETA: you mentioned that your fmaily wouldn't understand. My family lives locally and is very involved in our lives. I elected not to mention it for years. I don't think they realized until last year that we don't do santa. I didn't take the angle of keeping it from them but rather, "oh gosh, you thought we did santa? Of course we don't!". and moving on. 

post #14 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peony View Post

We also elect out of the tooth fairy and easter bunny as well. I couldn't of gone through with the pretense of santa. It still feels very unsettling to me. 

Yep, no easter bunny or tooth fairy here, either.

I felt very angry and betrayed by the parents lying about santa thing. I figured if they lied about all those things, ... santa, the tooth fairy and the easter bunny... that their god must be imaginary, too.
post #15 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by pianojazzgirl View Post

We "do" Santa here too.  I have so much fun with it!  Like pps I remember the excitement and "magic" of Christmas very fondly.  I had no disappointment or sense of breaking-of-trust when I learned that Santa wasn't real.  I guess I "got it" that Santa is a thing that little kids believe in (that parents "play" with little kids), and now that I'm big I'm "in on it".  We continued to "do Santa" though even once I knew.  We would still put out stockings, and milk and cookies on Christmas eve and everything.  It was just fun pretend.  And I also enjoyed being in on the stocking stuffing once I got older.

 


 

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post #16 of 63

My family "did" Santa growing up but I don't think I ever truly believed, not much after very early childhood anyway. My mother, bless her, has still refused to admit there is no Santa even though I turn 30 later this week so I never really had that moment of feeling parental betrayal. There was a whole big deal about it when I started taking on Christmas responsibilities like baking, like I was "in on it," and I liked that.

 

We "do" Santa now with our Christmas-obsessed two year old but I don't really try and convince her any of it is truly real. For instance, I wouldn't come right out and say that Santa is bringing her presents since that involves a pretty big lie but I do read Twas the Night Before Christmas. I wouldn't tell DD to go to bed on Christmas Eve so Santa could come but we do plenty of Santa crafts. Now that I am trying to describe this I see I have given myself a very fine line...

post #17 of 63

Wow! It's like I've been looking for this thread all my life!! 

 

I grew up Christian but without Santa as a literal thing. I raised my DD1 with Santa, just because my ex-husband felt very strongly about it. Am now remarried, have put my foot down, and DD2 will be raised thinking that Santa is a fun guy related to Christmas, which we don't really celebrate, but Grandmom & Grandpop do. Even if we did, I would introduce it as a fun figurative idea. I mean really, I have met Christians, Atheists, Jews, who have acted like I am a criminal because I don't want to teach my kids that SANTA REALLY EXISTS. Truly!
 

It's just such a problem to combat the psychosis and the consumerism. My inlaws are really into giving 1000 gifts on a complete overload and I get really annoyed every year. We try to talk to them about it and they are just in denial that DH/we are doing things our own way. Ironically for them, when DH discovered Santa was a big lie, he decided God was too. Hilarious. I mean, regardless of belief system, you have to think about the effects of lying to your kids! I agree with many of you big time on that one.

 

Meanwhile, like one person above, we celebrate Solstice. We started it last year after much concentration on what we wanted. It was divine. We took elements we loved (magic, family, warmth, fire, lights, good food, music, a tree), added some more stuff, and ditched the rest. Basically we get either an evergreen tree or - this year - we're going to create a tree out of fallen branches from this beautiful curly branched tree we have, and decorate it. We do presents, but not in the extreme. We have a yule log onto which we attach notes we all write - together and/or privately - hopes, fears, dreams, ideas, things we want to let go of, we even sit late the night before talking to the log (it was great! crazy but therapeutic) and then we burn it in a big bonfire in the afternoon. In the evening we had a special fancy tapas meal by candlelight with a few friends over. We took DD1 out of school for the day, which is annoying to me to have to do, but it was worth it to make it 'real'. 

 

 

post #18 of 63

We do Santa, and tooth fairy and Easter bunny. Ds loves it.  It' part of our traditions as a family. He's looking forward to all these rituals.

 

But it's not about the money or the presents. He gets $2 / tooth from the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny brings only chocolate eggs (no gifts) and we have a set amount of money for Santa's gifts.

Also, we don't threaten ds that Santa "is watching", he doesn't need to be good in order to earn his presents.

We don't make up stories about Santa. I think ds already knows it's pretend, and loves to pretend as well.

 

You can still keep the magic and take out the consumerism and icky part out of it.

post #19 of 63

I'm big into the imagination.  Believing in things for the fun of it.  I don't like the use of Santa Claus as tool to garner good behavior though.  My parents loved to do that on. 

 

We have a neighbor who dresses up like Santa every year and decorates his house.  My girls have been his front yard elves for years.  He finally has two grandsons and he's gotten them into the mix as well.  Every year his wife sends him over on christmas eve to give my girls their gifts.  My girls believe he's the real Santa.  I've never said he was, I've always said "you just never know".  

 

I let them believe in the magic, why not?  I have told them before that someday they won't believe in these things anymore and the excitement and magic will be gone.  DD1 told me that a girl at school told her that her parents give her all her gifts.  There is no Santa, no Easter Bunny, no toothfairy...  DD1 decided her mom gives her all her gifts because when you stop believing the magic goes away and your parents will have to take over the gift giving so that you won't feel left out. 

 

If my kids keep dreaming and believing I'm okay with that.  I was the same way.  I was never angry when I found out all that jazz wasn't true.  My mom always said that parents make up the magic so that their kids can dream bigger.  That was good enough for me. 

post #20 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post  My mom always said that parents make up the magic so that their kids can dream bigger. 


 

I like that.

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