Saturday, 12 January 2019

The Santa Dilemma

This post was started mid December. I was locked out of my blog for a while!

I’m going to sound like the biggest Grinch. I have held conflicted feelings about doing the whole Santa thing with Kate. The first two Christmases were easy. She was five months and then 17 months and was blissfully oblivious. Last year, I just continued to ignore the white bearded man in the red suit. There were a few people who mentioned the ‘S’ word to her, but I don’t think she paid much attention. I sort-of (over) reacted to a few strangers, snapping at them for “presuming we celebrate Christmas” They must have thought I belong to a non-Christian based religion, which does make me question my hypocrisy for exchanging presents in observation of Christmas as an atheist, but my issue really is that they are assuming I let my child believe in Santa when I’m not sure I want her to. [Of course there is the other issue that we don’t quite believe the whole virgin birth baby in the manger thing. My favorite take on it is from Saved! As teenaged Mary becomes pregnant after having sex with her gay boyfriend in order to “cure” him and she wonders if The Mary made it all up. “I mean you have to admit, it’s a good one. No one claimed virgin birth before” She does add “I don’t think she made it up, but I can understand if she did.”

Here are my issues. It’s lying to her. In general I’m not against lying to your kids when you need to, I’ve probably told at least five white lies to Kate this morning just to get her out of the house. This is something big. What do you do when your kids ask you point blank if Santa is real? My thought is that if they are suspicious enough to ask, you owe it to your kid to be honest with them. I know we all went through finding out when Santa/The Tooth Fairy/Easter Bunny aren’t real and lived to tell about it. Yet, I know some moms who went through a rocky period with their kids when the kids learned that that had been lied to by someone they trusted. It also can be noted that there are some kids who are seemingly a little too old to still believe in Santa. 

I also don’t like that it places too much of the emphasis on the gift receiving aspect of the holiday. Sending letters and asking for things. It also highlights the economic disparity and is painful for a lot of families when the kids are requesting items a family cannot afford. I’ve heard there have been school administrators who have sent letters home to parents asking them to limit the presents distributed by “Santa” so kids aren’t wondering why Santa was more generous to some classmates than others. I also have absolutely no desire to spend hours queuing at the mall for my daughter to sit on some stranger’s lab while I hope he’s not molesting her (I’m not saying all mall Santas are pedophiles, but just saying if you are one, being mall Santa is a good gig) 

My friend Amy made a few very valid points. First, threatening to call Santa to report bad behaviors is an effective deterrent. It’s a useful parenting tool. Secondly, you don’t want your kid to be the asshole who ruins it for everyone else. I spoke with a few like minded friends who were trying to promote that Santa is more of a concept. It’s the idea of selflessly giving to others. Anyone can be a Santa. I was ready to get on board with that, but the key distinction is that their kids aren’t in Pre-school where not only is Santa discussed, but he even visited Kate’s school. (Of note, the only thing I could find as a Montessori approved gender neutral gift under $10 for “Santa” to distribute was a Play Doh set and I silently apologized to the Mom of the kid who got this gift. Karma must be laughing, as Kate came home with the gift I brought in. Two other moms whose kids go to different schools also received their own gifts. Is this a thing schools do just in case someone buys Play Doh?)

Last year on a Target clearance sale, I bought an activity advent calendar to use for this Christmas season, which was really to appease my mom who I knew would ask it I were doing an advent calendar. To my surprise, she really got into it and did the activities (coloring, a maze, matching etc..) every day, which all featured Santa. I decided I would take a “I will neither confirm nor deny approach” which I know is the proverbial ostrich burying her head in the sand. Then she found her Peppa Camper van that I didn’t get around to wrapping in my closet. It was a a total #momfail. As I had to rush out to get to the gym, Husband pulled the “Santa couldn’t fit this on his sleigh, so he gave it to us early…” line. So maybe that was some confirmation; but she heard it from him not me. My parents were the ones who helped Kate set out the cookies and milk and carrot for reindeer and then staged the empty glass and cookie crumbs. 

Overall, we had a great Christmas. I felt we hit just the right number of presents. As she is really into playing “store” her gifts included a cash register, shopping cart and basket, more food, a small shelf and an Antsy Pantsy stand that works as a till. We didn’t designate any presents as being from Santa, but she seemed to appreciate the concept of Santa. I’ll have to figure out what to do next year. 

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  1. It's so hard to know what the right thing is to tell them! We do the whole Santa thing, but try to let it play out on it's own. Rylee has determined on her own that Santa's we may run into at different events are not the "real" Santa. She believes in Santa, but knows that those Santas are not real. It's hard not to get caught up in the magic of it all with them. My heart melted when Ayden got out of the car on Christmas Eve, and looked up at the sky, trying to see Santa. I don't know how I'll answer it when the day comes that they ask if Santa is real or not. Like you, I don't want to lie to them, especially if they flat out ask. I'm hoping they will just come to the conclusion on their own, like Rylee did with the Santa's around town. I don't even remember at all when I found out about Santa, the Easter bunny, and the tooth fairy, so it couldn't have been too traumatizing!

    P.S. You don't sound like a Grinch. Also, how did you get locked out of your blog? That's a thing????

  2. I think it's just a wierd thing with my iPad; I can't log into blogger, but I never was logged out on my old iPad

  3. Here in Germany the "Christkind" (Jesus child) comes on the 24th and brings presents which is very different to Santa clause, a man with a beard coming down the chimney and leaving presents to open Christmas morning. I'd like to stick with the Santa option I had growing up but it will be hard to explain why Santa comes to her but the Christkind comes to other children here..

  4. If I had my way, I would not perpetuate the Santa myth. Christmas is such a joyful experience (although also perpetuating a different more complex mythology) without him. But my husband begs to differ.

  5. So I fully support the whole not giving the extravagant gifts from Santa thing. It's stupid. Take the credit. Chris and I do the Santa thing with Olivia because it's what I grew up with. She does get the gift she asks Santa for (this year, the first year she really had a request, it was a $10 PJ masks talking stuffed character. She thought it was the greatest thing ever.

    That being said, I grew more aware this year of the season of material possessions. As in, while 90% of her gifts from us were from the consignment sale, I know I got her too much. Next year I'm severely limiting her gifts because I forgot she gets so many from family and then there's her birthday just a month before.

    But I believed in Santa until... 7 or 8? And regardless what others say that they were traumatized when they found out, I learned it was a fun secret to have with my mom to continue the magic with my younger sisters. I never viewed it as my parents lying, or scarring me for life. For me, it was about the magic. And I love giving that bit of magic to Olivia.

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