Tuesday, December 3, 2013

To Santa, or not to Santa?

My youngest daughter is 11 and she still believes in Santa.  What a magical bonus this is for her childhood!

I'm not saying she doesn't have doubts. I'm pretty sure that at this point she's choosing to believe in Santa because she doesn't want to let go of the magic, and I wholeheartedly support that. 

Childhood is so short. And some of it is so hard. Santa Claus and presents and sleighs and magical reindeer dust are parts of one of the really pure, sweet, fun perks of childhood:  Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, Saint Nick, Father Christmas -- by any name, he is widely known as a bringer of joy and happiness. For example, he is so amazing that we knew instantly that things were gonna get better in Narnia just because Santa finally came around.  He shut that White Queen down!

I've always told my kids that their childhoods are going to be so short. "This is your childhood," I tell them, holding my thumb and forefinger just slightly apart to illustrate a tiny slice of life. "And this is the rest of your life," throwing my arms wide to drive home my point. "Don't be in a hurry to get through your childhood. It will be over too soon anyway." Of course after all these years I don't even have to say the second part anymore:  as soon as I say 'this is your childhood' they finish my sentence for me. The older two are 25 and 20 and have never been in a hurry to grow up.  And I've even heard them tell this to others now. Our kids may roll their eyes, but they're still listening. Even my Little Brother in the BBBS program knows this!
Naughty and Nice in 2012

Seriously though, in a world where childhoods are full of Honey Boo Boo and Miley Cyrus what parent wouldn't want to capitalize on the sweetness of Santa Claus? Santa stands for Love and Giving. He's all about making people happy. He's selfless and unassuming. He has a joyous laugh. He ponders ethical questions.  He's a hard worker.  His employees love him. This is a good role model. 

Some people don't like Santa. These people are kinda Grinchy. The typical arguments they have against him fall into 2 basic categories:

a) He's too commercial, and/or takes away from the "true meaning" of Christmas, or
b) He's a myth, (i.e. I'd be lying to my child)

The commercialism/true meaning of Christmas issue usually has to do with the belief that Santa detracts from the fact that the purpose of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  We believe that if your faith is strong enough, there's room for two.  Our personal stable is big enough for both the Baby Jesus and all 8 reindeer, plus Rudolph.  When someone says "Christmas is all about Santa," it's not his fault they've lost their faith or can't get themselves to church. 

As for the "lying to your children" issue, I very scientifically consulted both my older children and Wikipedia.   Wikipedia agreed with me that no children were harmed in this experiment, and my oldest daughter Ariel, now 25, had this to say when I asked her when she knew or wondered about the existence of Santa:  "When I was in the 5th grade and y'all got us that playhouse I came downstairs and thought, 'Wow, they had to do that all by themselves last night." 

I just don't see a downside here. 

I asked Lacey, the middle child, age 20, the same question and our conversation ended with her sending me a long list of beloved family traditions that will be the subject of my next blog post. 

One thing Lacey reminded me of in particular is the year that my ex-husband expressed to me that he did not like Santa "getting credit" for all the presents. He said that the kids "should know" that we, their parents, bought them the presents.  I tried to say that "their childhoods are this short"....but he was not impressed.  That was the year the kids got presents with gift tags from "Tweety-Bird," "Tinkerbell," "Sean Elliott" and "Rudolph."  Lacey was about 12 then and she says this was a "big clue."  The ex shoudla learned how to wrap.  ;p

The bottom line for me is that there is such joy in both giving and receiving presents and Santa is the embodiment of that beautiful concept.  Sure, you could outlaw Santa and just keep it all in the family.  But that's just not as.... magical.  We have birthdays for that.  And other holidays.  And like it or not, during the holiday season, Santa is everywhere  - you just can't escape him. And you know the old saying, if you cant beat' em, join 'em!  So, if you're a young parent and struggling about whether or not to support the spirit of Santa, I say struggle no more!  Get on the Santa bus now - it's a wild but innocent ride! 

Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas!

Bonus link:  you should believe in magic....
My childhood stocking :)


  1. We don't "do" Santa with our girls, but obviously he is everywhere during this time of the year. We love to talk about St. Nicholas and how he spread the love of Jesus to his neighbors and that we get to do the same.
    I took the "news" about Santa really hard--I had a hard time reconciling that my parents had perpetuated such a big lie for such a long time. That's part of the reason why we've chosen not to do in our family. I'm glad your kiddos are more resilient! :)
    Love the childhood/adulthood trick!

    1. Melissa, what's most important during the holiday season is love and family! Sounds like you've got lots of that!

  2. We do Santa. I can see where some might not want to give Santa all the credit for the presents. But why spoil the magic why they still believe. Our boys get one or two things from Santa and the rest from us. Last year, my 8 year old asked if Santa had run out of wrapping paper by the time he got to our house. When I asked why, he said that the wrapping paper was just like the one in the closet. Santa Fail! LOL. When they no longer believe, then they will know that we were behind it, but until then...HO HO HO!

    1. My older girls both said the same thing about the wrapping paper - LOL! I think that's a common Santa Fail! Both my girls said there was no one thing that made them realize but a string of clues that made them gradually understand.

  3. Coming from a Mom that had such a short time with my boys to enjoy that special magic I'd do anything to give them a few more years of Santa! Thanks Denise.

  4. Kelly, you and your boys are so lucky to have each other! And think - there's grandchildren to look forward too! That's magical!!! :)