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Do you do the whole Santa Claus thing? - Page 2

post #21 of 83

We don't do Santa. I made it very clear that he's a nice story, a happy idea, but he A. isn't real and B. doesn't make a lot of sense. What about kids who live in areas of the world where they don't do Christmas? Who gets to decide who is naughty or nice, and what constitutes being "nice" anyway? I want her to appreciate, also, that her gifts come from me- I plan and think and buy everything, very carefully- and her grandparents, aunties, etc.

I'm getting a LOT of resistance from my 5yo DD who wants to believe- and tells me, "he is TOO real, you just think he isn't because he's INVISIBLE!" I don't belabour the point, but I have made it clear that I don't think he's real. I've said so far that she is welcome to believe whatever she wants- everyone is allowed to believe whatever they want- but not to be surprised if there are no Santa Clause presents under the tree, this year or any year.

post #22 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post

No santa here. I had big time trust issues with my parents after discovering that most of the fun stuff in childhood was a lie and fabrication. (santa, easter bunny, tooth fairy) We traveled when the kids were small to avoid the holiday stuff and then we invented our own quiet solstice thing that we still do with them as teens.


Philomom, this sounds like exactly what happened to me as a kid! My littles are 2 & 4 and this will be our 2nd year celebrating Solstice rather than Christmas. We're still searching for traditions that fit us. Would you mind sharing some of yours?

post #23 of 83

We don't do Santa.  We can't avoid the presence of him at Christmas time, but instead of carrying on the myth, we talk about the history of the St Nicholas, and the spirit of giving, and refer to Santa as being a fun character.  We homeschoold DD and most of her friends are homeschooled as well, so the school influence is not really present.  We are clear with her about our disdain for consumerism.  In our immediate family we only give handmade gifts and we do it at Solstice.  Our extended families all celebrate Christmas with varying degrees of religiousness.  We let each part of the family give Christmas gifts, but with a no Santa policy.

 

Our solstice traditions are just evolving, but the week before solstice we string popcorn and dry apple rings and make birdseed ornaments, felted ornaments, etc and then on solstice go to our outdoor balsam tree and hang decorations and talk about the importance of the dark time and celebrate the coming of the light with songs and merriment around our tree. It is along our cross country ski path so we visit it all throughout winter and remind each other about the returning light.  (We take the decorations down at the spring equinox.) We have our dinner by candle light. And then we each share our homemade gifts.

 

On Christmas day we go for a family hike and also have a nice dinner, and open the gifts that our family has sent.

post #24 of 83

Full-on Santa family here! tiphat.gif  I don't consider myths lying at all and, although I think there are ways to provide this type of cultural identity and fantasy if a family isn't comfortable with this type of thing, I think these types of myths & traditions are important for kids, whatever culture they come from.  But, we don't do "naughty or nice" at all. Our Santa is unconditional. :wink  We also don't do the Elf on the Shelf because there are enough old traditions in our extended family -- no need for us to add new ones when there's barely time for the old. 

 

FTR, we are an atheist family and very comfortable in our skin about that. My DH is the first generation of his family to not practice Christianity. I am the third. It's slightly harder for him to reconcile practicing Christian traditions than it is for me. We tell our DC that we are "culturally Christian" because our extended family were part of that religious tradition and so we honor our heritage in a non-religious way.  I mean, we all know that a lot of the Christmas traditions pre-date Christianity and/or has no real relationship so it's really not a hard thing for me to reconcile. 

post #25 of 83
We are a Santa family too, but don't really talk about it much, never have. Stockings get filled overnight and boys are happy in the morning. They haven't really believed after age six and my older son was never the type to swallow the story. We just haven't discussed it much, it's always been such a peripheral part of the holiday, and my sons sensed that from my attitude and didn't question the issue much, I guess. Once they were big enough to know better they knew better but it wasn't a stark moment of change. I presented it as a fun idea that was mentioned only once or twice per season and left it at that. I assumed they've pretty much always understood it as a myth.
post #26 of 83

We do Santa but not like most people do. We make sure the kids know that Santa isn't a real person, but we all, even the kids, pretend that we think he is. *wink wink*

 

When we were reading the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, I loved the part where she started to grow up and began to realize on her own that Santa wasn't a real person. Her mother stressed that Santa IS real. Santa is the name for the magic of Christmas which is love. 

 

"Christmas Eve was the time when everybody was unselfish. On that one night, Santa Claus was everywhere, because everybody, all together, stopped being selfish and wanted other people to be happy. And in the morning, you saw what that had done. "

 

I just love that quote. It's so beautiful. We don't put any presents under the tree all of December. The tree stays empty. Then on Christmas eve, the kids go to bed excited and the adults bring out all of the presents from hiding and put them under the tree. In the morning "SANTA CAME!" And the kids get to take part in being Santa, too. They can hide their own presents to others under the tree when they wake up in the morning before the adults do and then they get to say "why, I don't know where those presents came from! It must have been Santa!" 

 

Santa is a lot of fun around our place.

post #27 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post

Full-on Santa family here! tiphat.gif   I don't consider myths lying at all and, although I think there are ways to provide this type of cultural identity and fantasy if a family isn't comfortable with this type of thing, I think these types of myths & traditions are important for kids, whatever culture they come from.  But, we don't do "naughty or nice" at all. Our Santa is unconditional. winky.gif   We also don't do the Elf on the Shelf because there are enough old traditions in our extended family -- no need for us to add new ones when there's barely time for the old. 

FTR, we are an atheist family and very comfortable in our skin about that. My DH is the first generation of his family to not practice Christianity. I am the third. It's slightly harder for him to reconcile practicing Christian traditions than it is for me. We tell our DC that we are "culturally Christian" because our extended family were part of that religious tradition and so we honor our heritage in a non-religious way.  I mean, we all know that a lot of the Christmas traditions pre-date Christianity and/or has no real relationship so it's really not a hard thing for me to reconcile. 

We do Santa, and no, we're not lying to our children. No more than when we read fictional stories, play make believe, or leave out tiny presents for the fairies.
We didn't bother with Santa at all until she was three and was 'getting it' from all around the community. At that point, DP and i decided to play along, and be honest when she inquired. At almost four, she asked if we believed in him. We said that so many people believing in the spirit of Christmas makes him real. At almost five, she's asked again.
Me: I believe in the spirit of Christmas.
Her: Do you believe that Santa is real?
Me: People make him real.
Her: I believe in him.

And that's where it's at this year. I expect that next year, she'll be Santa to her little brother.

Might be worth mentioning that we do a pretty simple Christmas. We stay out of the stores this time of year. We go visit a low key, no-mall, no-photo-package-required 'pretend Santa,' one that our kids know is not actually Santa. Our big celebration is the Solstice. We rent a cabin and light a fire and send our wishes for the new year into the world by putting them in the fire. Is that any more of a lie than Santa?
As for Christmas proper, we do stockings, and one gift.

I wrote about attachment parenting and Santa on my blog last year. Here's the gist:

"I’m not lying to my child. I’m encouraging magical thinking. There is great value in magical thinking. We need to be able to believe in things we can’t see and concepts that challenge our imaginations. There are all kinds of things that we can’t see or prove exist, but are, nonetheless. Love, hope, faith, to name a few. We need to be able to take a turn at being enchanted, in order to understand how to enchant others. We need to be able to take a flight of fancy, because we are a species of storytellers and story listeners. Stories are an integral tool when it comes to absorbing and understanding human nature. Childhood is filled with stories of all kinds. Or, at least, I hope it is. And I think it should be."
post #28 of 83

There's a part of me who would love to say that we do a simple Christmas but THAT would be a lie. :rotflmao We DO IT UP!!  For whatever reason my extended family just showers gifts for this holiday. So much so that nearly everything I own was a past Christmas gift. All my kid's clothing, toys, our kitchen stuff - nearly every thing we own besides the stuff we thrift for the rest of the year. From the outside looking in it probably seems pretty consumerist but we aren't consumers the rest of the year and the gifts we exchange are by-in-large well-made, ethical, useful gifts. 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by starling&diesel View Post

I wrote about attachment parenting and Santa on my blog last year. To quote myself:

I’m not lying to my child. I’m encouraging magical thinking. There is great value in magical thinking. We need to be able to believe in things we can’t see and concepts that challenge our imaginations. There are all kinds of things that we can’t see or prove exist, but are, nonetheless. Love, hope, faith, to name a few. We need to be able to take a turn at being enchanted, in order to understand how to enchant others. We need to be able to take a flight of fancy, because we are a species of storytellers and story listeners. Stories are an integral tool when it comes to absorbing and understanding human nature. Childhood is filled with stories of all kinds. Or, at least, I hope it is. And I think it should be.

100% agree and love how you phrased this! 

post #29 of 83

My oldest has always been a very cautious child. She can be very naive, too, but she never truly believed in Santa. I think the idea of some strange man in a funny suit sneaking into her house in the middle of the night just freaked her out too much. I wanted to have the stockings and the trappings so we did read Santa stories like "The Night Before Christmas" and I sort of suggested to her that "wouldn't it be cool" in the same way that wouldn't it be cool if we could fly, etc. I never suggested that he really was real or that it was all fake. I just left enough room for her to pretend if she wanted to. My younger daughter did want to believe at certain times. I know one year maybe in the summer she was convinced it was all parents and no real Santa, but then when Christmas rolled around she really wanted to believe again so she let herself. We didn't contradict. It can be a fun game to play. I remember when I was a young adult I really liked filling the stockings for my parents and brother and sister when I would go home for Christmas. At this point I'm a little more Bah humbug about the whole holiday, but I try to keep up a good front for the kids' sake. 

 

Elf on a Shelf was concocted by a mom in Georgia or Alabama in the past ten years or so. The little guys have been around since the 50s. My folks had them when I was growing up and I think I still have one I inherited somewhere, but they weren't spying on you back then. That part is a modern invention.

post #30 of 83
DS, 6yo. Just asked if I believe in Santa. I told him I like to believe in Santa. He said he liked to believe in it too. Belief is kind of like a choice this way.
post #31 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post
 

I remember when I was a young adult I really liked filling the stockings for my parents and brother and sister when I would go home for Christmas. 

 

One of my personal best was filling the stockings of my cousins whose mother was sick with cancer that year. I never told who did it. Still makes me happy to think about and a little sad. :candle

post #32 of 83

Even before I can remember, I didn't buy the idea of Santa Claus- I played along because I got presents, and I was completely upfront about it. The only pictures of me on Santa's lap are with a very annoyed look on my face. I still find the idea incredibly creepy. He watches children sleep, sneaks into their house, controls their behavior, and has them sit on his lap in exchange for toys and candy. Oh, yeah, that's something I want to teach my child is okay... I will not be explaining or expressing my dislike of Santa until my kids are grown, just to be clear. They're free to make their own decisions on whether the Santa myth is a heartwarming holiday tale or creepy.

 

My mom still tries to keep the Santa Myth alive. I honestly don't know if she believes in Santa or if she's just nostalgic for when I was younger.

 

I'd rather use it as an opportunity to teach my kids the importance of respecting others' beliefs. Just because we don't believe in Santa Claus, other people do- and it is not nice at all to tell those people that Santa isn't real. We aren't raising our children in any religion, whatever they grow up to believe there will be people with religious beliefs they don't hold and I want them to be able to be respectful about it. I really think that my parents fell down on teaching me to be respectful of others' beliefs and, when I was a kid, I lost friends because of it.

 

People keep asking when we're going to get a picture of our baby on Santa's lap. I don't know if the grandparents are going to start pushing for it. My partner is apathetic, I don't want to.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by starling&diesel View Post


I wrote about attachment parenting and Santa on my blog last year. Here's the gist:

"I’m not lying to my child. I’m encouraging magical thinking. There is great value in magical thinking. We need to be able to believe in things we can’t see and concepts that challenge our imaginations. There are all kinds of things that we can’t see or prove exist, but are, nonetheless. Love, hope, faith, to name a few. We need to be able to take a turn at being enchanted, in order to understand how to enchant others. We need to be able to take a flight of fancy, because we are a species of storytellers and story listeners. Stories are an integral tool when it comes to absorbing and understanding human nature. Childhood is filled with stories of all kinds. Or, at least, I hope it is. And I think it should be."

I disagree firmly.  We can tell stories without going to the point of lying about who put the gifts under the tree or who moved a toy.

post #33 of 83
sillysapling: "I still find the idea incredibly creepy. He watches children sleep, sneaks into their house, controls their behavior, and has them sit on his lap in exchange for toys and candy. Oh, yeah, that's something I want to teach my child is okay."

1. I'd never suggest to my kids that anyone watches them sleep. Except me, maybe. And they're safe in bed with us, anyway.
2. Our idea of Santa has nothing to do with 'naughty or nice.' We don't up any ante or threaten any loss in this regard.
3. Santa's supposed omniscience has zero bearing on my children's behaviour, and I counter any outside influence that makes that claim. We do the same for God and Jesus, actually.
4. I'd never have my kids sit on anyone's lap in exchange for anything. If they want to, they're welcome to.
5. Santa doesn't sneak into our house. He's invited. We even leave out cookies and milk and write a note as an invitation.

I just wanted to be clear about those points, because I agree that those elements = creepy.
There is definitely a scale of buy-in, and we're not anywhere near the end where that's the norm. Our eldest hears all that 'he sees you when you're sleeping / knows when you've been bad or good' crap and I tell her that it's nonsense and is a way that some parents scare their kids into being 'good.'
post #34 of 83
We do Santa smile.gif I my 8 yr old asked if Santa was real and I just said he is if you believe he is.
post #35 of 83

Technically, I was never told Santa wasn't real.  My parents just told us you only get presents if you believe [once we were too old].  In fact, they still say this (with a wink and a nod) even though all us kids have reached adulthood.  They never did the naughty/nice list, though, but were excellent about the whole Santa myth when we were younger--quite creative.  Which was interesting, because the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny and the like were never real.  They like the Santa thing.

 

Husband and I have talked it over and we're both in favor of the Santa myth, though it will probably be used more as a fairy tale--no elaborate ruses on our part.

post #36 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by starling&diesel View Post

There is definitely a scale of buy-in, and we're not anywhere near the end where that's the norm.  

Yea, same here.  My guess is that whether you feel Santa is a "lie" or creepy or a way to control your kids or be conditional with gifts has a lot to do with how Santa was done in your life.  In our home Santa is a story, a myth that kids are free to believe in or not. There are clues as to whether your child wants to believe in things like this. The key is to listen closely. 

 

I'm not sure but my gut tells me that many, many cultures have a myth like this for children. Does anyone know? 

 

I do agree that Santa is a bit troubling because this myth is tied to gifts AND in the weirdest way, religion (weird in that he is tied to a religious holiday but not celebrated as a religious figure).  So, I'm not saying I can't relate to the bad taste that Santa brings...

 

But done well Santa can be fun and an extension of what I expect is a long, rich history of providing children cultural identity and something that I suspect help them make sense of their world. So, I say, ditch Santa (if that was once part of your culture) if you want but be open to participating in story telling for your kids without the burden of always being the voice of reality. 

post #37 of 83
So interesting to hear everyone's perspective, especially the well thought out rationales behind diametrically opposed viewpoints.
post #38 of 83

We celebrate St Nicholas. It was originally a holiday on Dec 6 to celebrate the wonderful life of St Nicholas. Now we have wrapped it up in christmas. So we celebrate the wonderful charitable deeds St Nicholas did. The kids think he's real because of the movies but my son is now coming to realize that its a remembrance of a real person and he is cool with it.

 

We  also celebrate Christmas, the day of Christ's birth. AND we have just started investigating and celebrating Hanukkah since doing our family tree I discovered we have some Jewish roots!

post #39 of 83
I find it really strange that someone would have "trust issues" because their parents dis Santa and the Easter Bunny...I think parents intent is to create magic and give their children some fun and wonder. I loved all these childhood things and love them for my kids. Sometimes we "lie" to our kids to protect them. I find it really hard to believe, and all of you that say you don't lie to your kids are lying. Santa is not going to damage your kids. Not teaching your kids to be grateful will though. And by the way, all kids question Santa when they reach a certain age, it's when they start logical thinking. I ask my kids what they think when they ask if Santa is real. If they think he is then I play along. They can believe as long as they want. My oldest said it all, she said I'm glad you did Santa for me, it's not lying, it made me happy. Now she helps with the joy for her younger siblings
post #40 of 83
These are genuine questions for the No Santa Campers ...

What do you do about imaginary friends?
What do you do when your child puts a sign on your front door to keep out ghosts?
What do you do when you child sees something that isn't there and insists that they did?
What do you do about the afterlife?
What do you do about 'visits' from loved ones who have died?
What do you do when they ask about natural disasters? Murder?
What do you do when your child wants to be a 'real live prince' with a 'real live castle' when he grows up?
What do you do when they ask what happened to auntie's body when she was buried?
What do you do when your children make-believe, and then want to bring elements of the fantasy into their daily lives? ie. feeding their baby doll at the table, wearing their dinosaur costume and insisting that you address her as 'velociraptor' and wants to eat raw meat with her hands?

You get my drift ... I could go on. I do genuinely wonder how ardent realists approach these types of things with their children, and I do see a very real connection with the myth of Santa, or the Easter Bunny, or the fairies that come visit the bower you made in the garden. My eldest had imaginary babies for over a year when her auntie was dying, and those babies reflected much of what was happening around the process of death. When auntie went into the hospital, so did the babies. When auntie had a procedure, so did the babies. When auntie died, so did the babies.
I could've insisted that her babies weren't real, but it helped ease the difficult transition from life to death for her.

And I see that many of the childhood myths provide a similar balm to a very complex and sometimes scary world.

If I was constantly negating my children's strong imaginary impulses and their human need for make-believe, I think my grown children would have more of a problem with me always enforcing pedantic reason and being a magical nay sayer in the face of their very genuine -- and, of course, fleeting -- childhood beliefs.

Developmental psychologist and AP advocate Gordon Neufeld talks about children and anxiety, and uses the monsters-under-the-bed scenario.
He says that is doesn't matter at all that they are not, in fact, there.
You can try to reason, convince or cajole your child in the hope that they will realize the 'truth.' But until their pre-frontal cortexes are more developed and they can hold complex feelings and emotions in spite of strong impulses to the contrary, the monsters are real. Not coincidentally, this happens around the time most children 'grow out of' the Santa myth, and then can enjoy and participate in the creating it for the younger children. We take turns being enchanted by this kind of magic.

I'd argue that the same is true for many of the other imaginary facets that are so typical of early childhood.

I also want to mention that before my child was of the age to absorb Santa from the larger community, I was totally NOT going to do it for the same reasons so many others shared here. I changed my mind.
Like so many things with parenting, we all do whatever works for our unique families.
We don't do God or Jesus, or even heaven. We don't do the Easter Bunny, or the tooth fairy. We do Santa, on our own terms, and in a way that feels like a very good fit for our style of attachment parenting.
And as a writer and storyteller, I suppose it makes sense that I'd be the one championing magic realism and makebelieve as a way to help children grow up in a holistic way, with their sense of enchantment nicely honed, both as giver and receiver.

Alright, must go write the stuff I get paid for.
Thanks so much for the conversation! It's a valuable one, and I do so very much appreciate hearing everyone's perspectives.
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