He’s in all the Christmas movies. The big jolly man in red. People who don’t believe in Santa tend to be sad or angry and somehow they just need a little faith and then they will be happy again. He not only magically brings all the children toys, but sometimes, like in the movie Home Alone 2, people end up looking up at a Christmas tree or something and speaking their desires out loud for Santa to hear. “Please Santa, let me see my family again.” And Santa always delivers 🙂
I was reading a discussion about this on a parenting website and was amazed at how angry and passionate people can get about it. A mom got on with a legitimate question about whether to “do santa” with her children and a crazy debate ensued. Let me say first that I think each family just has to do what seems best to them. I certainly am not writing this to try to make people see that my way is the right way. I just thought some people might be interested in what we have decided to do and why. It is a question I have gotten a lot from my friends over the years.
When I was a kid, we did Santa and I actually believed a lot longer than a lot of my friends because a lot of them had older siblings. I wrote letters to Santa and put out milk and cookies. The whole shebang! When I was in second grade I asked my mom if he was really real and she told me a beautiful story about how he was a real man but that was a long time ago and now his giving spirit lives on through all of us. She told me about how I had been an angel on one of those Christmas trees in the store and after that we started to pick an angel every year and be “Santa” to them.
So I didn’t have some tragic experience that turned me off of Santa. I had a great experience. But there are several reasons why I don’t want to teach my kids to believe that Santa is real.
First of all, I want my children to be able to trust me if I say something is real or true. One of the people on the web discussion I was talking about pointed out that it’s ridiculous to say that your reason is that you don’t ever want to lie to your kids…are you going to be brutally honest about everything, even if they are too young to understand? But I think there is a big difference between a temporary lie for a surprise party, the watered down truth for young people to understand, and teaching your child to believe in something that you will later recant. This by itself is not my reasoning. But I do remember that while all my friends were saying that there was no Santa, I said that I still believed because my mom wouldn’t lie. I trusted her. And although I don’t think I was emotionally scarred because of it, I don’t want to give my children a reason to stop trusting me or start to wonder if other things aren’t true either. If Santa isn’t real, what about God?
Which leads me to my next point. I wasn’t a Christian growing up, but I am now. I don’t need to make something up to teach my children about miracles and faith. We have God! They don’t need to look up at a Christmas tree and call out to Santa. They can cry out to Jesus. The things that the moms on the web discussion are so adamantly defending are things that I want for my children too. But I don’t have to take it away from them when they get older.
The other argument that I saw a lot from pro-Santa-is-real-ers was that we should let children be children and let them use their imagination. I agree! But this is a silly argument. This can happen with or without Santa. My kids have amazing imaginations. Every day they are pretending with dolls or dressing up to be different characters of made up stories. A lot of times there are bad guys and magic. Sometimes they even play Santa and pretend to bring each other Christmas presents. I LOVE fantasy stories. Stories about super-hero powers, magic, elves, dragons, fairies…. I encourage my children to read about, pretend, imagine, and dream up all sorts of fun things. But I am not going to try to convince my kids that these things are real.
It does get more challenging as they get older and get conflicting messages. Other people assume that since my kids are so young that they must believe in Santa so they talk to them as if he were real. I don’t like looking like the grinch so I smile and nod and then I have to have conversations with them in the car if needed. (Well, really only Big Sis right now.) And Santa is everywhere. I thought that I could explain that he is a nice man pretending to be Santa and that it is all in fun, but Big Sis gets so excited that I think she does believe at least a little bit. That’s ok though. She believes that my kisses heal her even though I have told her that, unfortunately, my kisses are not magic. So as long as I am doing the best I can to teach them the truth, they can choose to believe what they want. They will have to make their own decisions about all sorts of things as they grow up. Like about God! He gave us all free will to believe in what we want to believe in 🙂
I still think the way my mom handled the Santa thing is beautiful and if you have taught your children about Santa and are looking for a way to break the news, I highly recommend this way of doing it! Either way you decide, there are going to be a lot of questions to answer. I bought a book called The Legend of St Nicholas and I think that is one good way to teach them about the good-hearted man without teaching them that he is a magical, all knowing, God-like being. There is a Veggietales that tells a story of a young Saint Nicholas too. We will learn about Santa and can be Santa for others, but I want God to be the center of Christmas as He should be every day of our life. We can have a giving spirit like Santa, but more importantly we can love like Jesus.
I am super happy about our decision. Good luck with yours!
I just saw this post today too and thought it was good food for thought. It’s another Christian perspective.