Why We Don’t Do Santa |
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Why We Don’t Do Santa

admin December 17, 2015

Growing up, I loved the magic of Santa.

I believed in him at least until I was 6 or 7.  I remember talking to a friend when I was 5 or 6, about how a neighbor’s older brother actually came downstairs for a snack and caught Santa leaving presents — so clearly, he had to be real.

When I learned Santa wasn’t real, I was not upset.  It was just a little bit of lost magic, which was replaced by a sense of needing quality family time during the holidays.  (That’s another story in itself.  We didn’t have extended family nearby, and I grew up in a family with just two children, so I often found the ‘family’ aspect lonely.  One reason I now have five children of my own!)

As it happens, my mom still insists, to this day, that Santa is real.  She still labels presents (in her own handwriting…haha) from “Santa” under the Christmas tree, to each of us.  She wants to keep the magic of Christmas…and we all play along when we celebrate together.

Given my own experience with Santa, why haven’t I done it for my own children?

Why We Don’t Do Santa

Our entire parenting style is different.

In a lot of ways, we strive for authenticity and mutual respect with the kids (keeping in mind they are kids and not exactly our equals; they need our guidance).  Santa didn’t really seem to fit into this.  Santa is a lie.  A well-meaning lie that many tell and many enjoy (as I did), but still a lie.

For practical purposes, having so many kids, we knew that if our older kids figured it out, they would “ruin” it for the younger ones…so why start?

But, bottom line?  It just didn’t jive with what we wanted to teach our kids about the season.

My favorite parts were always spending time with the people that I loved.  Gifts were great, but secondary.  Santa was part of the magic but not a big factor in the whole thing.  It was more important to lovingly choose a gift for someone else (rather than receiving them). More important to play out in the snow, have a big family meal, and more.  It was not uncommon for us to get up on Christmas morning and go make a nice breakfast or even sit together to watch TV before we opened presents.  We were never the up-at-6-tearing-at-gifts type family.

I want to foster the same kind of camaraderie among my own children — a sense that Christmas is about so much more than presents.  Santa is about presents.  And Santa is an abstract reason to receive presents — there’s an unspoken idea that Santa can afford anything and everything and can bring you exactly what you want.  After all, his elves make the toys, and he is magic.  There’s no understanding of what goes into Christmas gifts…or why you didn’t get what you asked for.  The focus is too much on “getting stuff.”

Fostering Family and Community

Fostering the importance of family time, of giving gifts to one another — and not being given gifts by some magical man — is what is important to me.  Gifts are just a small part of the holidays, though.

We focus our celebration on going to church and enjoying a service with our community.  We teach our children about Jesus’ birth and what that means for us.  As a family, we read the Christmas story from the Bible.

We also spend plenty of time enjoying Christmas parties with our friends — fellowshipping together.  Together, we decorate ornaments.  We have a little party in our homeschool group.  Always, the focus is on spending time with people we care about.

On Christmas day, we get together with extended family (because my kids are lucky enough to have most of their family close).  We celebrate with grandparents and cousins, enjoying time with family, sharing a meal together.

I find this time with family to be a richer and more important way of celebrating than just focusing on gifts — and the magical man who brings them.

Santa as Conditional Love

The Santa story itself is just a magical, fun tale.  Our kids do know about Santa.  We have read books about him and told them what many people believe.  We’ve just told them it’s a really cool fairy tale, rather than telling them it’s real.

Although the majority of people who do Santa don’t intend anything like this, Santa, to me, is a tale of conditional love.

The whole premise is that to get gifts, you have to “be good.”  You have to be deserving of presents.  If you are “naughty,” then you don’t deserve them.  It’s just one of the many messages in our world that says, “Unless you are happy/good/acceptable to others, you aren’t enough.”

As I said, I don’t think most people who do Santa think this way.  I don’t think most people even see it.

But, it’s pretty pervasive in our culture.  We accept people “if.”  If they don’t hold views we strongly disagree with.  If they don’t say things that might be considered offensive to some.  If they aren’t selfish or rude.  When people do these things, then we hold them at arm’s length, or get rid of them.  We avoid them a little more in public.  Unfriend them on Facebook.  We punish them if they are our children.

Santa is only a tiny part of this.  I understand Santa is mostly about the magic of Christmas, and not all of this, but Santa plays into this because it’s just so much in our culture all the time.  We love conditionally.  We are quick to judge.  Quick to reject.  Quick to punish.

If, in some small way, I can step away from that and teach my children that I love them no matter what — even when they are being unloving — and that they get the occasional gift from me not because they did anything but just because I love them…then I will do it.  If I can then teach my children to love and accept others for who they are, and not conditionally but all the time, then I will have taught them well.

I know plenty of you will say I’m reaching.  That Santa really is just a fun story and this is just way too much.  That’s okay.  For me, the family aspects of it are much more important, but these other thoughts are in the back of my head.

Do you do Santa?

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11 Comments

  1. When our children were young, our pastor encouraged us to celebrate Christmas but get rid of Santa since we want Christmas to revolve around Jesus and not Santa. We went home and told our children. The oldest who was 5 at the time was upset but quickly got over it, therefore, Christmas always was about Jesus to our family.

    Reply

    • Do you do Cinderella at Disneyland? Same thing. They may or may not know they are people. What they do know is these characters are reaching out in love, something Jesus teaches us to do. Just be honest let them know you are pretending and play the traditional story out. You are teaching them to give and take. The key word is to be honest. End your story with what Jesus says. To love and give. Let them know Jesus is real. What you don’t want is a bitter child or one who feels different or left out because the others did Santa and they didn’t.

      Reply

  2. I’ve always admired this idea, but I’m curious as to how you handle the concept of them discussing this with other kids. Because despite our own wants for our children, some families want this. How to you approach teaching them to not take that away from others while still teaching them to be honest?

    Reply

    • I have told my 6 year old the full truth and made sure she knows not to ruin the tradition for other kids because they believe he is real. We talked about other families choosing other ways to celebrate.

      Reply

  3. A great post. Many people are horrified when they realise my kids know the truth about Santa, I don’t know why. My kids are 6 and 4 and when my now 6 year old was 3 he asked me repeatedly if Santa was real and if it was true. I finally told him the truth when he was 4 and asking again, but also told him that it can be fun to pretend that he’s real especially when you’re a child. He said he wanted to join in and pretend and so we do.
    Since then we have learnt together (at homeschool) about the history of Santa and it was great this year for them to understand that Saint Nicholas was just a good man that helped others. That really put a good message behind the myth and tied in with the real message of Christmas. Telling them the truth and teaching them the history of the saint behind the mythical figure has in no way dampened their excitement. I follow their lead and when they want to participate in the pretence I go along, when they want to really know the truth, I tell them. It has been really great, so far!
    As an aside, this time of year is like a gold mine in terms of teaching at home. Where was Jesus born? Let’s get the atlas and do some geography and learn about these places. Why do we have Santa? Let’s learn a bit of European history. Why do the Christmas songs sing about holly? Let’s get the encyclopaedia. It’s brilliant!!

    Reply

  4. We don’t do Santa either. I want my kids to always know that, if I tell them something, I am not lying to them. We tell our kids Santa is real and he’s always watching us to see if we are good and society plays along in every way with this lie. Then they find out this invisible man who is always watching is just a lie…what does that leave them thinking about God? They have never seen God and He is always watching them too, but society doesn’t even say he’s real like they did about Santa – and he turned out to be a lie, so why should they believe about God?

    Reply

  5. We discussed this when we were dating and surprisingly, neither of us wanted to do the whole Santa thing. We still do not have kids yet but we will not celebrate with Santa when we do. That doesn’t mean we won’t watch movies with Santa in them but we will explain that Santa is kind of like Spiderman, Captain America, or Tinkerbell.

    As for myself, I was completely destroyed when I was told the truth. I couldn’t believe my parents had lied to me. I will say that from time-to-time, it made me wonder if God, Jesus, & everything else Biblical was also just a myth. As a side note, God regenerated me when I was 27 yrs old. 🙂

    Reply

  6. We are an agnostic family and my husband does not want to do Santa, while I found it a fun part of childhood, nothing traumatic. It did not make me doubt my parents, while NY husband lost trust in his. We are still discussing it, I think the season can be just as magical without Santa. Though I don’t know if it would make my little ones ruin it for other kids…

    Reply

  7. We don’t include Santa in our Christmas celebrations. For us too, family time is our primary method of celebration, and the focus is on God’s gift of Jesus to us.

    My girls (5&7) understand that Santa is a fun story like Tinkerbell or Frozen, that some families choose to pretend is real. It’s up to their parents to tell them about Santa. I tell my girls to say “Santa doesn’t come to our house”, if others are pushing it. (which happens-kids as well as adults!)

    I grew up without Santa too, and don’t really remember it being an issue when talking with other kids. (even my cousins believed in Santa, and we didn’t “ruin it” for them!)

    Reply

  8. If you teach your kids about Santa and about God the Father and Jesus Christ that they are real, then they find out about Santa, why then should they believe in God and Christ????

    Reply

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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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