It’s that time of year. The leaves have fallen, the air is crisp and I’m in the midst of our Christmas shopping. With birthdays in December, Christmas, New Years all following Thanksgiving…I like to shop early and get great deals to have the best and most amazing presents I can find! Christmas decorations line the street, our tree is up and at-em and there is Christmas music blaring from every outlet possible. Including my bluetooth speaker, as I loudly sing all the wrong lyrics to the Christmas songs I grew up on.
I grew up believing in Santa. I remember Christmas Eve nerves, trouble falling asleep, wondering when Santa would come down our chimney, peering out of the window staring up at the sky, waking up at 4 am half asleep to find presents under the tree…it was was a magical surprise. I always wondered if my stocking would be full of coal or if I was “good” that year in Santa’s eyes. I was thankful for the presents he brought and hung on my parent’s every word and tale about his existence.
However, as I grew older, the stories my parents told me about Santa seemed fake. I asked more and more questions and their story got more complex. I remember the night I asked my Mom about Santa. I stood in her bedroom doorway and said “Mom, is Santa real?” She replied “What do you think?” I said “no” and she said, “You’re right” and explained a bit about the tradition. I was confused, I felt betrayed and I asked why they had lied to me. Elaborate lies, photos with some guy in the mall, pretending to hear sleigh bells…the list goes on and on. She explained that they wanted to make Christmas special and fun for me, but I couldn’t understand why the people I trusted most in the world would lie…for years…(Read on below)
If you’re Christian, Christmas IS magical without Santa Claus. Christmas is celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Entire religions are based on his birthday and celebrated around the world. If you practice Christianity, you believe one man was born to a Virgin and placed her on Earth to save our souls. Now, I’m certainly not a religious scholar…and I should spend more time reading the bible…but that’s amazing. I don’t need a man making minimum wage dressed in a red suit and fake beard to make Christmas magical…it already is! I can go to Heaven after I die because of Jesus?! Santa who? While I’m not the Sunday church going type, I do believe that this account of Christmas makes a better tale than the old man flying through the sky.
Deciding what to tell my kids
I knew even before I had my babies what I would tell them. Two reasons: 1. Christmas is a special time of year because we are celebrating Jesus’s Birthday. 2. To help explain Santa, I also include the story of St. Nick. Of course, my kids are full of questions and sometimes I have to think on my feet! My 4 year old asked how we would give Jesus presents…because it’s his Birthday. I explained that he’s in Heaven, and we celebrate his birthday by exchanging presents among ourselves as a symbol of the gifts that we brought to him by the 3 wise men in the Bible. It’s the biggest Birthday party ever. Bounce house optional. When I mention this to other parents, I find that I’m not alone. I’m happy with our decision and my children know that Santa is for fun. He’s a symbol of celebration…but certainly not someone who is going to sneak into our house at night and creep around the house.
Answering questions in the supermarket…Target…
Way before Thanksgiving arrives, I constantly field questions asked directly to my children when we’re out shopping; “Have you been good this year, is Santa going to bring you presents?” “Are you excited for Santa to come and bring you gifts, I hope you were a good little boy.” Um no lady, my kid was an asshole. Santa drove by and gave us the finger and yelled “Better luck next year!!” My oldest son responds “No, Santa isn’t real” to the woman at Crazy 8 who went on and on trying to convince him!
It doesn’t stop there! “Oh no honey, Santa is real!” and so on. I always have to jump in and explain that my kids know that Santa is for fun and that we are celebrating Jesus’s birthday and the story of St. Nick and so on.
I find it odd that people assume my children believe in Santa, as in the man who’s flying around in a reindeer sleigh… magically coming down our Chimney Christmas Eve and watching them 24/7 for good behavior. I find that manipulative. While I have been tempted to pull out the “You better behave or Santa won’t bring you any presents,” especially on my 3-year-old! I find the notion creepy. Who wants to think that someone is watching them 24 hours a day and basing gifts on their behavior?
I often wonder: Why is it that complete strangers feel the need to keep up this facade and smoke and mirrors story with my children? First off, how do they even know we’re Christian? I find myself explaining more then I would like to that we will be celebrating Jesus’s Birthday, and that we appreciate Santa’s helping along the festivities, but that presents come from Mom, Dad and Grandparents etc. I get looked at like I have two heads. How dare I say that Santa wasn’t coming down the chimney in front of my kids?? Yes, Christmas is a special time of year. Yes, we will be exchanging presents…but before you start grilling my children…Don’t Assume We Believe in Santa.