Spoiler Alert! You are probably going to hate me for this one. And it may be best if your kids don’t read it over your shoulder.
In my house, I don’t do Santa. Never have. Okay we have Santa hats and stuff but we don’t pretend he is real. None of those “have you been naughty or nice”, “let’s send a letter to the North Pole”, “how about leaving cookies out for Santa” bits and pieces. My kids get Xmas presents – and I’m being deliberate about the Xmas rather than the Christmas part because we are not Christian – and we do a tree and all those other bits steeped in commercialism. We do it because it’s fun and its holidays and show me a kid who doesn’t like to get presents. I love a good party (possibly more than the next person) and Xmas is an excuse for one, but I do draw the line at Santa. My kids are clear about who is buying the presents and that the whole thing is done for fun. They know it’s a massive treat. They know who to say thank you to after they open their presents.
Why no Santa? Some of my friends have asked in horror. What harm does it do? You are taking all the magic out of it! That’s just some of what I get. I’m not slagging those who do Santa, that’s their thing. But to some it seems a horror that my children have never believed in Santa – so here you go, you can judge my reasons if you want.
First up: I don’t have that Santa feeling. We didn’t do Christmas when I was growing up so I don’t have that sentimental feeling about reliving Christmas as an adult. But I do remember the Christmas / New Year period as being massively festive times. We would go to the big department store in town and take photos with Father Christmas. We’d gawp at the all the decorations and the street lights that had been put up. We had an aunt who always gave us presents, parents who gifted their Christian colleagues and it was all just really good fun. There was a time, I think I was around six, when my dad hid a gift in our fireplace (a little toy oven that baked real biscuits) on Christmas morning. He pretended Santa had left it for me. I remember clearly how exciting the idea of Santa was and how great it was to get a present. I also remember hoping that my dad had given it to me. He isn’t one for many words and to get a present from him for no real reason would have been far more special than getting something from a random bearded guy in a red suit who supposedly watched over me being good and bad for a whole year. That bit just sounded scary. Long story. But for me – the Christmas time of year has never been linked very strongly to Santa. It’s a fun time, not Santa time. He is not that big a deal to me.
Second, I think Xmas is as exciting without Santa. My husband did a little bit of Santa with the big kids so I saw how much they enjoyed it. But when the first of the boys came along I was the one that called time on Santa. There were practical reasons. The big kids had by then already found out the disappointing truth and that meant five of us had to keep the Santa thing going for one little kid. There was bound to be a leak. I see now how the boys’ count down the days in the same way as their older siblings did, they dream about presents in the same way, they can’t go to sleep in the same way. Oh, but what about the magic and the fantasy they are missing out on? I hear that, but Santa is a magic and a fantasy that is only going to end in one way – disappointment and a bit of disillusion. I want mine to find magic and fantasy in other places, where they can create and sustain it for themselves. Boring maybe, but books are the places where I would like them to find fantasy and magic, not with some overweight bearded guy in a Coca Cola suit.
And then you can just call me lazy. I don’t have the stamina for big, long term lies to my kids. Keeping Santa alive takes a lot of lies over a long time. Sounds awful but it’s true. There are lies I have to tell my children, after all who can be totally honest with their children all the time? (No, we can’t go to Butterfly World today, they are nearly closed or We don’t have any chocolate in the house). Keeping Santa alive takes long term consistent lies and I knew I would cave sooner rather than later. Why start what I couldn’t keep up?
But here’s the heart of it. I want my kids to believe me on the big things I tell them. Santa is a big deal to kids. I want them to know that on the big things I will always tell them the truth, even if it’s unpopular and they (and me!) get into trouble for it. My kids know that Santa is not real. They know most of their friends believe in Santa. They also know they should keep it to themselves. Sometimes they slip though and so my friends know to keep their kids away from mine when they start talking Santa. But mostly I hope that along the way my kids are learning that it’s alright not to believe the same thing as everyone else. I hope they are learning to respect what others believe even if it’s not the same as what they have been told. Tall orders. But I’m starting small with Santa.
Hope you all have fantastic, festive, happy holidays with or without Santa – whatever it takes to rock your sleigh I say!
Love & presents
PS, couldn’t resist adding in this bit from the Cape Times today. Makes me feel better! And yes, in case you were wondering: No tooth fairy (I still do cash and the youngest one LOVES checking out his stash of teeth that I keep. Weirdos both of us). Also no easter bunny (plenty plenty Lindt bunnies for that job).