The Santa Experience

12/25/2005

Sunday

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Okay, you are all dying to know. Too bad…Ha!

As evangelical Christian types, we (Arwyn and I) do have issues with the whole Santa business. Aside from being an anagram for SATAN, Santa is the primary tool for the mass consumerism that is Christmas. You can gift card and skimp on adults, but your kids are a different story. Not many 6 and 3 year-olds are ready for a Buy Nothing Christmas. But I am exceedingly proud of my kids for being massively appreciative of every gift they got, even the clothes.

Arwyn and I deal with Santa the same way we deal with other issues. Mainly, we avoid, sidestep and bypass it. In this case, it has served us well. We are not telling our boys that Santa doesn’t exist. Who needs the ire of other parents? In addition, they’ve both been watching the Polar Express DVD almost everyday for the past week. We have pictures of them sitting on Santa’s lap.

But Santa does not figure in to our family tradition. There is no mad rushing at 4 a.m. to see what Santa left under the tree. No leaving out milk and cookies or carrots for Rudolph. We have stockings, but don’t make a big deal about them. My kids (hopefully) will not have to have their first crisis of faith over a fat man in a red suit. To them, Santa is as real as Elmo, Big Bird or Barney the Dinosaur. I don’t hear about kids crying and falling to pieces when they find out Barney isn’t a real dinosaur. I don’t hear about parents getting all upset when someone tells their child that Elmo is just a puppet. They’ll figure it out when they’re ready.

We have never threatened our kids, telling them they’d better be good or Santa won’t come. Since Santa is not visiting our house, there is absolutely no need to create and reinforce the whole mythology. We are well on our way to negotiating our way through this cultural minefield. Our tradition is to go to Early church on Christmas Eve, go home and change clothes and then we exchange gifts right then. It’s pretty simple and straightforward, and it has worked so far. The kids aren’t asking a lot of questions about Santa, simply because they have already gotten and opened their gifts. They are playing with their stuff, while other kids are tossing and turning in their beds, listening for sleighbells. They get tired, and are ready for bed. Christmas morning, they might actually sleep in. But if they don’t, they have their loot to play with and Mom and Dad can sleep in a bit without worry of missing wide-eyed wonderment.

Some of you probably think we are abusing our kids by depriving them of the Santa Experience. Arwyn and I both grew up waking to Santa Claus’s presents under the tree. We were both threatened with lumps of coal if we didn’t behave around Christmas time. But even Arwyn’s mother, who is staying with us this week, has remarked how much less stressful our household is. Oh, there is still pressure and stress. But we don’t have to satisfy the Santa Mythology. The kids know their presents came from Mom and Dad and Grandma and express thanks and gratitude.

Gratitude. What a concept! By the time the neighbor kids open their presents, Santa is back at the North Pole, sleeping off a hangover induced by the overconsumption of milk and cookies! There is no one there to thank. And why should they thank Santa? It’s his job! He’s just doing what he does, which is give out toys.

Okay, I am way off on a rambling tangent. I like the Santa bit in a lot of ways. But this is one time where side stepping and avoiding have served Arwyn and I exceedingly well. We started this tradition of opening presents Christmas Eve before the kids were born and it has stuck. We considered waiting until morning this year, but I’m glad we stuck with what we’ve been doing.

I’d be okay with hearing another point of view. I’d like for someone to get me to think about the good points of Santa and how kids and/or parents benefit from Santa Claus. FWIW, we do enjoy the music and the movies inspired by the rotund red fellow and his reindeer.

Merry Christmas and go easy on the Eggnog!

D.

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5 Responses to The Santa Experience

  1. O272 says:

    We only have one kid convinced there’s a Santa. She’s 3 and we’ll do what we can to bribe her.

    When the oldest one asked about the tooth fairy when she was around 5, my response was, “Do you really think I’d let a strange person wearing tights into your room to reach under your pillow?”…and then she proceeded to ask me about Santa and the Easter bunny…which was a little strange since we don’t celebrate Easter at all.

    Since then, we only go along with the whole Santa thing ’til they’re about 4 or 5. It’s not traumatic when they figure it out ’cause the older kids usually blow it for them before that anyway.

    Merry Christmas!

  2. C-Marie says:

    I never pushed the Santa idea on my kids but there was the belief..Santa wasn’t a tool for bribing the kids to behave or a tool for asking and hoping to receive what they had asked for. I never had to sit any one of them down to explain or debunk anything.

    It’s the magic of the season, the magic in our hearts and why not allow a little magic in our lives once in awhile?

    My children know the real reason for the season – always ahve and I hope they always will.

  3. Amanda says:

    Good for you. We do the same, although we do read the book, “Mommy, was Santa born on Christmas too?” When my 4 year old kept saying, “Santa is coming to our house,” I replied, “You receive presents form Mommy and Daddy and grandma and papa….” etc (and the rest of the family that the children get gifts from). We tell him the people he saw in the mall are pretending. SoO far, it’s gone well.

  4. aphron says:

    We all know that Santa was a creation to help us spend more money for Christmas. That being said, I let my kids “believe” in Santa. They have questions about it. We don’t reinforce anything. We look at it as part of the magic and fun of Christmas. We, too, go to Christmas Eve service. We stress Christmas being about the birth of Christ, Savior of the world.

    As for Santa being derived from Satan, that strikes me as a little silly. Santa means saint.

  5. Bedazzzled1 says:

    “I’d like for someone to get me to think about the good points of Santa and how kids and/or parents benefit from Santa Claus.”

    These are my thoughts about the above request of yours.

    1. Santa is showing his kindness, thoughtfulness, and generosity by passing out gifts. These are traits we would like our children to acquire, aren’t they?

    2. God gave us the most wondrous gift of all over 2,000 years ago…His Son. Are we not celebrating that gift by the giving of gifts? The Wise Men brought presents when Christ was born, too. God’s gift was to the entire world…just as Santa’s gifts are.

    3. Wasn’t Saint Nicholas a real person who did leave presents for the children where he lived? Did he not do so anonymously…for no needed kudos and thank yous?

    4. We can teach our children much by discussing how Christ is why the holiday is called CHRISTmas. The emphasis can still be placed on that while allowing Santa to also be a part of it. The two kind of go together when you think about it. Both did for others, both wanted the best for others, both wanted happiness for others.

    5. We can also teach our children the values of helping the less fortunate people in our world by saying that sometimes Santa cannot find all of the children. Suggest that maybe as a family you can purchase some gifts for those kids who may have moved recently, etc. Then go out and buy some presents that include not just toys, but also socks, shoes, coats. And I, for one, do not want a thank you when we do that. I love the total anonymity of giving such things to a family in need.

    ::shrug:: These are my ways to believe Santa and Christ can coexist in the eyes and hearts of children.

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