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What do you teach your child(ren) about Santa Claus (non celebrators too!)

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I hope this doesn't get too hot to handle but I have been wondering about this.

We don't celebrate Christmas (Jewish) but we see Santa everywhere at this time of the year. My DD is 2.5 and has asked who he is and I've told her. I will tell her eventually that he is a symbol of a holiday that we don't celebrate but was wondering if I should also tell her not to say anything to her friends about his non-existence. I don't want her to burst someone's bubble so to speak. Or maybe I just shouldn't make a big deal out of it.

Were any of you traumatized when you found out there was not Santa Claus and who told you? Parents or peers? Or obnoxious siblings?

Maddy Moo - 2.5
post #2 of 21

not sure...


I think this is a really hard issue.
We believe in Santa just because I think Santa brings out all the greatness of the season and the generic holiday...I think that if I was of another religion, Santa would probably visit our house!! LOL

To be honest if your child told my child that he did not exist, I would be pretty annoyed. I would obviously try and patch it up...but I would be annoyed.
I can fully respect that you might not want your child to believe in the symbol and may even want to be "always truthful" but I think it's hard for a child to keep a secret.

I think perhaps telling her what you have already that he is a symbol that you do not acknowledge...that should be enough for her...maybe???

Hope this helps...
post #3 of 21
Santa wasn't real to our dd. We handled it by saying it wasn't our place to tell someone else about it. I used the same theory with sex ed. As my dd is older than her neighborhood friends she learned about sex before they did. So I told her it was her friends moms place to talk about that with her. Same analogy for Santa. Obviously age appropriate of course, lol.

I was raised to believe Santa was real, in fact my mom still gives us grown ups gifts from the whole North Pole Pantheon. Including Mrs Clause and the elves ect. I wasn't hurt when I found out he wasn't real, in fact I don't even remember how or when I discovered it. I personally wouldn't worry too much about it. Kids do find out one way or another eventually and only so much is under your control.
post #4 of 21
We don't do the gifts from Santa deal....
I was so so devastated when my dad sat me down and told me that Santa was not real. I think my sister must have figured it our or something, and they were afraid she'd ruin it for me. I remember it clearly, it was a warm spring day and my dad sat me down on his lap and said "Is there REALLY a fat man in a red suit who comes down the chimney?" and I said "YES!" I still truly believed, and that cause my relationship with my father to really take a downfall. I never wanted my children to go through that. We also have talked about how it's not our place to tell other kids about santa, and I personally am looking a lot into the history of Winter celebrations and finding comfort there. As I learn things I share them with my children, hoping it will help them to understand. (Like did you know that there was an Native American ceremorny which was performed at the winter solstice where the shaman would climb down the center pole of the dwelling and bring predictions for the coming year from the other side? And that the color red and reindeer have been important symbols for winter solstice ceremonies for a lot longer than even Saint Nicholas?) Anyway, what bugs me is that everyone asks the kids if they are loking forward to Santa coming, or what Santa is bringing them. I just try to wink at them and play it off like "Oh, that silly perosn believes in Santa- hee hee", but it gets old.
post #5 of 21
I held onto my belief in santa for a long time, and was devestated when I found out it wasn't real. More because I felt I'd been tricked than because I really needed to believe in him (what can I say- i've always been a little naive) Because of this I've been a little waffly and evasive when ds (5) asks about him- I know there's a lot of excitement and magic in the whole jolly old elf thing but I also feel extremely uncomfortable lying about anything to my kids. I usually just try to pass thigns like this off with "oh, I"VE never seen him" or " a lot of people think he's real" but now I feel like I'm giving too much of a mixed message. : I kind of feel like ds want to believe but I don't know how to support that and not feel like I'm lying to him.

Khrisday- I really like your idea of sharing celebrations and beliefs from other cultures and times.
post #6 of 21
My step-dad says that the entire reason he left Catholisism and began not trusting his parents, stems from finding out they had lied to him about Santa Claus. Now, a wise gal like myself knows it's not that cut and paste, but you never know how your kid'll react to knowing that you lied to them like that.

My kids learned abt Santa from TV. I tell them he's not real, but they like that aspect of Christmas (actually, they like all the aspects, even tho they don't understand abt the presents,yet), so I don't push it either way. It's harmless, IMO.

I like Christmas. Not the religious or Santa Claus aspects, but the general feel of it. So, this year, we're "celebrating" in conjunction w/the Solstice and everything. My dh can't believe we have a tree in our house, so he says why not go all out and do the Santa thing. Who knows how this will evolve?

No Santa for us, but I'm enjoying Christmas cd's right now and they're talking about how Santa Claus is coming to town...

To each his/her own...
post #7 of 21
I've explained to DS that Santa was real long, long ago, as St. Nicklaus, and that the spirit of Santa still lives through us and through others, including special helpers like mall Santas. He hasn't been all that curious about it though -- I think he will continue to believe in Santa until he is developmentally beyond that stage. If we see a Santa about, he will just say "there's Santa!" Santa only brings one special gift for the kids, plus stocking stuff, all other presents come from real people. I remember as a kid getting TONS of presents from Santa and I think I was less grateful for them than I would have been had I known they were coming from my parents -- kinda like I expected Santa to pony up the gifts in an unlimited way. I also freaked out when I learned that there was no Santa because I thought that meant I wouldn't get so many presents anymore. Yes, yes, I was a material girl. : OK, in many ways I still am.

Here's a bit of an OT funny though -- I talked to DS once about religion, and what different people believe -- some believing in one god, some in many, some not at all, mentioning that no one knows for sure because a god is not something we can see with our eyes. Months later we were talking about the tooth fairy and I mentioned that we can't see her. He thought about it and then said, "Is the tooth fairy like god?" :LOL
post #8 of 21
I think I always knew that my mom was the one who played
Santa. But to me it was all about the fantasy and the oohs and aahs of christmas morning. My mom did a really great job of making it beautiful, even when there was just enough money for a small gift. Gees she even wrapped the bubble gum she put in our stocking. I just loved this growing up and will continue the tradition with my son.
post #9 of 21
Thanks for all your stories. I have been dealing with my desire not to lie to my dd and not wanting her to miss out on the fun either. Also all my family thinks I'm crazy when I tell them I don't want to lie to her about santa. At least now I know there are other moms who feel the same way I do.
post #10 of 21
This is a good topic! We don't celebrate Christmas either, but you are right, you can't avoid it. Today at a public United Way program for toddlers and preschoolers they were singing Christmas songs and I was bit put off. My Jewish friend was with me and also a bit put off.

I did teach dd Jingle Bells the other day because it's not religious, just talks about the season, but dh was upset abou it. On TV the other day was Charlie Brown Christmas and dh let her watch it. So I guess he has mixed feelings about this too. Time will tell what we decide to do. What I feel sad about is parents who sell their culture/religion short by succumbing to popular pressure, and they put up a tree or celebrate Christmas for the sake of their kids. There may not be any harm in it, but then again I think it creates conflicting messages with the kids and can distance them from their own culture.

I probably will just explain to dd that Santa is a pretend person like a cartoon, and some people believe in him, and explain more about him. I would no sooner take my child to see Santa than I would take her to an Easter Egg hunt (we don't celebrate Easter either). But she's American and there's no point trying to pretend that Santa and the commercialism is not there. It's in the library, the malls, everywhere. I think we will just try to make our own holidays huge deals so she can look forward to them and not feel she's missing out.

And on another topic, I don't believe that publicly funded places should endorse Christmas or any other holidays. Maybe put up some seasonal decorations like holly or snow, but to display Christmas trees and Santa crosses a line with me.

post #11 of 21
Oddly, in my very NE-y town square (we call it a common) we have tall evergreens growing. They are now decorated with lights (supposedly Christian, but I know better). We also had a large menorah at Hanukkah (and I happen to know the family who lobbied to get that up, friend of mine from LLL!). But no nativity scene. I don't know if they used to have one or not.

As far as Santa, we used to do it, sure. It was so fun when I was a kid, and we just grew out of it gradually. I think we'd see my parents wink at each other. And Santa came xmas eve while we were still awake! We opened most of our presents xmas eve. We would be sent upstairs to "look for Rudolph." We would see him too (there was a red light in the sky from some sort of radio tower, which we never noticed any other time of year, we were purposely dumb!). while we were safely upstairs, Santa would arrive at the back door and drop off the gifts, and we'd hear, ho ho ho, and a bell ringing. We'd rush downstairs and "just miss him!"

Santa would make a return visit while we were asleep and fill our stockings for xmas morning!

I'm getting all happy just thinking about it.

We did Santa for our kids too. Now that we are pagans, we have Holly King, but we are too old for all the pretending.
post #12 of 21
Oh, DaryLLL, one is never too old for pretending! I'm looking for fairies, as we type.

I love to pretend. My kids and I enjoy pretending so much. I played w/Barbie til I was almost in college.

But, I just can't get w/Santa. I guess he's not a symbol of diversity in my head, so I leave him alone. Besides, he's not important to the traditions I'm starting w/my kids. I don't want them to think some guy just gives you presents for nothing. Well, I guess it's really for being good, but I don't want my kids to think they get a gift for being "good". How realistic is it that someone you've never met just gives you all the stuff you've ever dreamed of having?

I know it's fantasy, I just see the real-life complications such fantasies hold.
post #13 of 21
My kids think Santa is a disney character I am not sure how they got that idea but I am Ok with it. He doesn't bring the gifts etc. . . so he is just a fun guy that you have your picture taken with and part of a great fantasy game (They think it is really fun that the grown ups are willing to play along with a little make believe )

Her "friend" told her Santa wasn't real the other day. Her rresponse was "Well of course not you silly". His intent was hurtful so we addressed that instead of the whole secrecy thing. We explained that some kids have been tricked into believeng Santa is real real and we don't want to be the ones who hurt thier feelings by telling them he isn't so we just play along. She is really sensitive and hates to hurt peoples feelings so she gets it.
post #14 of 21
lilyka, your dd sounds like such a sweetie!
post #15 of 21
lilyka, your dd sounds delightful. I recall in elementary school some kids going round teasing younger children for 'believing'. Me and my friends then pretended to believe too. Even though we'd only just worked out that Santa wasn't real, we were upset that some kids would spoil it for others.

We are unashamedly fans of Father Christmas in our house. But CF, like you, I'm very uneasy at the idea that he comes to 'good children'. Yuck. We never say that, and we play down the gifts part of it. I don't really worry about the 'lying' aspect of it, but I guess I have happy memories of it as a child and never felt that I'd been deceived, just that I'd enjoyed a wonderful fantasy for a few years.

Dd, who just turned two, is just so excited by the idea of reindeer and a sleigh - she wants to pet every reindeer we see in displays. Everything she does at the moment is 'for' Father Christmas. When we finished baking some cookies as tree decorations the other day, she looked very serious and said, 'Father Christmas will be very proud of me'.
post #16 of 21
Not that I have anything to add, but this topic has been driving me crazy for a few years. My ds is 3 1/2, and last year while entering "The Season", I realized I would have to start lying to him. It shocked me, because I loved the whole Santa thing growing up and don't remember even discovering the truth--although I do remember trying to protect my little brother and cousin from finding out. I still don't know what to do. I 'suffer' from a very close and extended family (love them all much), but they'd look at me like I was crazy if I even mentioned not doing the santa thing. Sigh... what to do...
post #17 of 21
I'm pretty sure that my kids don't even know what santa is. But we live in Israel, so that is to be expected. If they lived in the states, I guess they would be told that he is a pretend character that is part of a nonjewish holiday. Just as my mom told me.

post #18 of 21
I told my dd (I'll tell ds when he will understand) the story of St. Nick and that he isn't alive any more but dh and I are her santa now. She really digs it. Dh and I decided before we had kids that we wouldn't lie about santa.
post #19 of 21
Santa is the guy on the corner who rings the bell and collects money. And the guy across the street & down the block. And the guy in the window of the liquor store that "dances" all day. And the guy outside the subway station ringing the bell, etc.

I think my kids think he's some kind of TV character.

- Amy
post #20 of 21
the family I work for, well, the mother is jewish and the father? they don't celebrate Christmas in the relgious aspect. Reese just looks at as the day Santa comes down your chimney and gives you gifts for being a good boy all year. He celebrates Hannukah(sorry if it is spelled wrong). He also understands that his bestfriend is Jewish and Santa doesn't come to his house. For Hannukah is understands the religious part of it also. But, is givenno gifts or only one. When he asks if Santa is real I ask hime what he thinks he says yes and say then he is.
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