Do You Do Santa?

December 11, 2013

Santa Wallpaper

I know the Santa Claus question is always a hot one in the blogosphere, but I’ve never talked about it here at SlowMama — I suppose because it wasn’t something I had to think about much before my girls came along. Over the years, though, my husband and I did discuss it occasionally: He was always a no-Santa guy, and I was pretty neutral about it.

I grew up with Santa Claus, but it wasn’t something my parents overly encouraged. For my posse of siblings, however, the jolly bearded guy was a subject of much fascination and definitely a big part of what made Christmas fun. Strangely, I don’t remember ever actually believing in Santa myself. Early on, I must have discovered or realized he wasn’t real, but I don’t recall the moment; clearly it wasn’t traumatic for me (though it was for some of my siblings).

Now I’m a mom of two five-year-olds who’ve had a full year to hear about Santa Claus and Father Christmas, particularly in some of their favorite shows (all of which seem to have their own Christmas episodes) — and that means B and I have had to think more deliberately about how Santa is going to factor into our holiday celebrations. Since we prefer to keep the focus on the religious meaning of the holiday, and on giving, family, and friends, we aren’t going to “do” Santa here. We think it’s confusing to teach our girls that God exists — and so does Santa Claus (and the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy…). They already have a hard enough time understanding that Dora and Diego aren’t real.

All that said, Santa won’t be anathema in our house; he’s just going to be treated more like a fun legend and tradition. If the girls ask us point-blank, we’ll answer honestly, but we’ll continue to hang our Santa decorations. I’m not anti-Santa in the least, and I can see going either way on it, depending. I definitely have plenty of siblings and friends who take different approaches…

I’d love to hear how you handle the Santa thing in your house!

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1 Molly December 11, 2013 at 10:41 am

We do Santa and St. Nicholas. I grew up with my Santa Stocking and it feel strange to me not to have it around for my kids and I too, don’t ever remember really, really believing in Santa. I don’t mind if my children want to believe in Santa anymore than if they want to believe in fairies and dragons. I think it’s G.K. Chesterton who has some pretty great opinions about imagination being a great tool for developing the mind, particularly where faith and religion are involved.

We try our best to teach why Santa brings presents (as a reflection of Gods love), we teach about St. Nicholas so when they put two and two together they have the real person to fall back on instead of nothing at all, but in the end the focus in on Jesus no matter what.

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2 Zoe Saint-Paul December 11, 2013 at 11:08 am

Sounds like a balanced approach, Molly! (I should have mentioned we celebrate St. Nicholas Day, too.)

I’m all for imagination — my girls arrived with plenty of it, which is great! Over the years, I’ve become more inclined to agree with Maria Montessori’s view that younger children (3-5) are better off learning about what is concrete/real in their world, since it goes along with their developmental stage/needs at that time, and then encouraging imaginative belief after that. But I know plenty of people — myself included — who weren’t harmed by belief in Santa as young children.

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3 Kathleen December 11, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Our kids do not receive presents from Santa but their stockings are filled on Christmas morning. We’ve kept it vague and never lied. They’ve drawn their own conclusions and have never asked point blank whether St. Nicholas (we don’t call him Santa, just St. Nick) puts things their stockings or us. One time my daughter asked and I looked at her and said, “What do you think?” She responded, ” Hope it’s St. Nick.” I then change the subject. I guess, I am comfortable with the idea of mystery and the mystical. I agree with Chesterton, but perhaps a different personality would be crushed by the notion that their parents allowed the myth to deceive them. I have siblings that do Santa with their kids and those that do not precisely because of how it affected them. I teach K through 3 at a homeschooling co-op school and many parents wrote emails asking people not to ruin Santa for their kids or not to allow that commercial Santa to enter the class conversation. I know just avoid the whole topic at school.

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4 Kathleen December 11, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Here is the quote that I love from Chesterton:
What has happened to me has been the very reverse of what appears to be the experience of most of my friends. Instead of dwindling to a point, Santa Claus has grown larger and larger in my life until he fills almost the whole of it. It happened in this way.
As a child I was faced with a phenomenon requiring explanation. I hung up at the end of my bed an empty stocking, which in the morning became a full stocking. I had done nothing to produce the things that filled it. I had not worked for them, or made them or helped to make them. I had not even been good – far from it.
And the explanation was that a certain being whom people called Santa Claus was benevolently disposed toward me. . . . What we believed was that a certain benevolent agency did give us those toys for nothing. And, as I say, I believe it still. I have merely extended the idea.
Then I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking; now I wonder who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great planet in the void.
Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dollars and crackers. Now, I thank him for stars and street faces, and wine and the great sea. Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking. Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself, as to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic goodwill. –G.K. Chesterton

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5 Molly December 11, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Love G.K. he always has a great spin on things. =)

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