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.