Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Let's Talk Santa

When we were first married and I didn't know the Clarks very well, we got into a talk about Santa. (It was Thanksgiving and we were all together.) I jokingly said: We're gonna tell our kids Santa is the devil.

She didn't get it. And she also thought I was totally nuts. How in the world can you celebrate Christmas without Santa? She said something alluding to the fact that it was cruel and unusual punishment for a kid to have Christmas without Santa.

I said: But kids just want the gifts, they don't care where they come from.
She's now looking at me like I have a third eye.

So, I try to explain: I just don't want my kids to miss the real point of Christmas and think it's all about Santa.
She then calls over her 5 year old daughter. "Bobby Sue (name changed), why do we celebrate Christmas?"

For Santa Claus!

I was embarrassed for the mom at this point.

"No, Bobby Sue, what's the real reason we celebrate Christmas? Who is it about?"

Bobby Sue looks really confused now and says:

Santa Claus!

I wanted to go hide in a hole for her now! But Bobby Sue certainly proved my point. Just because you read the story of Jesus' birth every year doesn't mean your kids are going to look past all the Santa and reindeer and see the true meaning of Christmas.

What do you think?

(Oh and just fyi, I don't think that Santa is the devil. That was hyperbole. You got that right?)


Naomi Rebecca said...

Well dh wanted to teach the kids he was called EMF (Evil Mythological Figure). But we decided it might be a bit offensive if that were repeated to others. ;)

Since Jesus wasn't even born on December 25th (but in September), we bypass the whole affair and celebrate His birth during the Feast of Tabernacles (when he came to tabernacle with us) in September.

Kids get presents throughout the year, but we didn't want them to get hung up on *one* day all about presents with all those huge self-centered expectations (and disappointments.)

No matter how you wrap it, Christmas for kids isn't about Christ, it's about presents.

With or without Santa. ;)


Ginger said...

Does anyone actually think Jesus was born on Dec 25th??
So, does your family go along with not giving gobs of presents to the kids at presents? And how did you get them on board, that's the million dollar question we all want to know!

The Herd said...

I think there are actually many people that really believe that He was born on the 25th...unless they are told, how will they know? Same thing about salvation, vaccinations, healthy...most things. I run into people that say "really" when I tell them what I think about when Jesus was born. I am such a black and white person, it's really hard to think of celebrating at the wrong time...but we do.

My kids haven't been brought up with Santa, but taught about who Saint Nicholas was. I could envision them saying--who is that?---when they saw Santa in the mall, so we told them the truth and the background of "Saint Nick". They love the gifts(yes, we do the gifts part--from us and their siblings/family), but the girls really know the why of our celebration--Jesus's birth...the boys---not there yet in the understanding it all. They answered...I don't know--when asked why we celebrate Christmas. Boy, do I have to work on that!!

Last year, Mark(who is now 5) said he was going to enlighten his friend and tell him Santa was really dead! Funny to hear, but we told him that he should let the boy's parents handle the Santa part.

Regarding Facebook,I want to know also how your conversation about vacs with your friend came up...email me:)!

Heather said...

We've always told our kids that Santa is not real (nor is there a tooth fairy or Easter bunny). I feel like we can't really honor Jesus at Christmas if we simply read the passage in Luke for 5 minutes and then sing "Happy Birthday, Jesus" but the rest is all about Santa, reindeer, etc. We don't have any decorations with Santa/Rudolf, etc. But we do watch all the traditional Christmas movies, even with the red man. Our kids did tell all the kids at church/school that Santa is not real, but we never said he is evil or anything. My friend even went so far as to demand I reassure her son there was a Santa because he was SO upset to find out there wasn't (at like 9 years old!). I refused.

We tell our kids that Santa represents that we can all be givers. That is the extent of his magic. They know gifts come from mom and dad, we don't leave out cookies, etc. We do celebrate traditions and talk about how they started (trees, red decorations, stockings, etc).

The real point in being honest about Santa is because my husband is still scarred from when his parents told him to go out and pick spaghetti off the backyard trees, and he would go out for an hour looking for spaghetti, only to be told someone else picked it and to be laughed at. LOL

This year we are only giving the kids 3 gifts each, somewhat modeled after the wisemen's gifts: a gift of value, a gift for the body (like perfume?), a gift for the soul (like a Bible). Our kids are totally on board for it. We're also doing a Jesse tree for the first time.

I have felt pressured at Christmas time by relatives and friends to go along wtih their Santa charade. I just don't think it helps kids trust their parents to know they were lied to for years on end about a man in a red suit.

mommy4 said...

Funny you blogged about this. This Thanksgiving we had our usual dinner with both sets of family. One family member asks my kids every year what they want from Santa. I think this person does this because we have repetedly told our family that our kids know Santa is not real and when they are asked what they want from Santa they usually say, " Santa's not real, it's you buying our presetns."So this year the question was asked and Isaac, now
4, said "I don't like Santa", and Ella said "me three!" Avery said oh silly_____(insert family member name here) we know you buy our presents, so you can buy me, and she said everything she wanted. I really thought they would talk more about Santa, but not this year. Avery is very quick to point out that he is not real and that mommy and daddy buy their presents. So the babies really don't get a chance to talk about Santa. What do you tell your kids about Santa?

Stacy said...

I just asked Emily "What is Christmas all about?", and she said "It's about Jesus and celebrating his birthday....you told me that when I was 3 and again when I was 4" LOL At least she's getting the point, even if she thinks I repeat myself. :)

We half-heartedly do Santa (he brings one gift and puts candy/fruit in the stocking), but our focus is of course on Jesus' birthday. I've asked her if she thought santa was real, and she said "yes, right Mommy?", and I just smile. I won't ruin it for her just yet, but I always just refer to him as "magic". She knows the Easter Bunny isn't real...that's easier for her to understand because she knows it's a person in a costume, but santa is a person, ya know? But then again, my animal lover thinks animals can really talk too. LOL

I've told her Christmas is not really when Jesus was born, but I don't think she cares about that. We only do 4 gifts (something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read), and we've attempted to convince extended family to cut WAY back as well. We tell them they can spoil the kids on birthdays, but not at Christmas.

We also do several service type activities that allow us as a family to give to others, and for the kids to choose something of theirs to give away, as well as something to buy for a child their age that is less fortunate.

As for gifts - we also focus on GIVING to others....and try to make as many as we can. We do baked goods, or her drawings, or photos - things with "meaning". Occassionally she sees something in the store and wants to buy it with her money for someone because she knows they like it, and how can you argue with that generosity?

For the record, while I was typing all this, she colored a picture of her hand and told me she wanted to keep it to remind her of Jesus' hand. I said "what happened to his hand?", and she said "it was nailed to the cross when he died". Then she wanted to put a brown spot in the middle of the hand for a nail. That's a frame-worthy picture, don't you think?

Naomi Rebecca said...

Dh and I both didn't celebrate before we were married, so our kids really don't know about the presents (yet.)

We've lived here for over three years, but since we are not Catholic, the in-laws have never invited us to a Christmas dinner (where they would be exposed to Christmas things), so it hasn't been an issue for us.

We did tell the kids this year that some parents lie to their children about a man named Santa who comes to bring them presents, but it's really the parents who get the presents. We just told them we wouldn't lie to them.

Ginger, are you suggesting everyone knows it's not Jesus' birthday and they just pretend it is anyway? Then it's worse than I thought!

dkt said...

Our policy is to never lie to our children. Need I say more? :-) (at least not right now--typing with one hand and supporting a sleeping two year old with the other :-)

Ginger said...


I'm confused. Only Catholics celebrate Christmas? Huh?
So, are you concerned about your kids telling some innocent kid that his parents lied to him? My kids know Santa isn't real, but I would never tell them that other parents lie to their kids. I don't trust my kids that much.
As far as Jesus' true birthday, you celebrate in September, but are you sure Jesus was born on that very day? If not, what's the difference? We want to celebrate His birthday and to us it doesn't matter what day we do that. We have 2 birthday parties a year, so none of our kids actually celebrate on their birth days, but who cares? They just want to be celebrated.
Just my humble opinion.

Suzy said...

Oh Goodness! I got in SOOO much trouble last week about the Santa thing. On the way to Thanksgiving Dinner my son asked, "Mommy why do parents who know the truth about Santa, lie to their children about him? Does that mean they lie to their children about other things?"

Last year 2 family members interrogated and belittled my son for not believing. The people who aren’t believers and who celebrate Santa, hey, I’ve only got pity for.

But those who drag their children to church every Sunday and who participate faithfully in the Christmas Eve service at 11:00 PM, and then go home and wake up to Santa, I’ve got a whole other ton of emotions for and don’t quite know what to do with them.

Jamie Wooddell said...

We've never "done" Santa. We don't have any Santa decorations. He doesn't bring presents.
But we've also never told the kids he's not real. We tell them about St. Nicholas. When the kids ask me if Santa is real, I turn the question back to them. I would rather them use their own logic to work that one out. And it doesn't take long for that to happen.
As for presents, we only give two presents per child. With grandparents around, it's near impossible to circumvent the greed and selfishness. But we do bake goods for neighbors and participate in other giving projects. And we make sure their only response when asked what Santa is bringing for Christmas is "Christmas is about Jesus"

Jeff said...

Heather, what are you talking about? Spaghetti in the trees?

Tina in Indiana said...

I might get flogged for this, but I handle it a lot like my parents did, but with a much bigger dose of Jesus in the holiday. We are some of thos Christians that go to church christmas eve, and still do Santa, but Santa is explained not as a man in a red suit, but as the giving spirit in everyones heart. My mother was the one who explained it to me that way. We do the santa stories and put out cookies. And when at Grandma's we do stockings.

For me it was never hard. I think a part of me knew it was rather inpractical to imagine a MAN, not matter how magical its reindeer are, delivering all the gifts in one night. Also how did he get into all the malls all at the same time? I remember asking my mom that question. Never seemed to "real" to me when I put all that together.

Christmas was a pretty interesting thing to me also. My Grandfather was born on Christmas eve so each year we celebrated his birth and Jesus's. Grandpas name starts with a J so one year my grandmother uses snow foam and wrote "Happy Birthday Big J and little J" on the window.

To me the whole point was to celebrate Jesus and See family.

This year we will be at church Christmas eve and then spend Christmas day as a family, with gifts yes...we celebrate on the 25th because it is a designated day. Now I will say that hearing that his birth was in September is odd to me. All the research I had read and even questioned my minister at church points more towards January. I am curious where the September theory came from. As for his actual birthdate, I know that it is not definately known. So we choose to celebrate it in December. There are many things people do not realize about this holiday if they are not in church and studying it. I juste in the last few years learned some of these things myself. Just as many do not know that the wise men did not see Jesus till he was about 2 or 3.

Anyway..intersting blog today. Thank you for bringing it up.

Dr. G said...

I haven’t read your blog in months but dropped in last night for another try. I think this topic is very thought provoking so much so I had trouble sleeping last night thinking about it. First thing I did this am was ask Lance…why do we celebrate Xmas? I was relieved when the answer was ‘for Jesus’s bday’. We still do Santa at our house, cookies, gifts…but think our emphasis could use an overhaul…especially as the twins are just ‘getting it’ this year at age 2.5. I think several of you have great ideas regarding the limit of gifts and what each could represent. We of course talk a lot about ‘Keeping Christ in Christmas’, advent, story of Jesus’s birth etc. Would like to see us limit the materialist part of the season much more.
Growing up my mom always sponsored a family in need from our school. That tradition has carried over for us too. Since the twins were born and Sean spent so much time there, we have sponsored a family at Cook’s that has a baby in the NICU. We just donated several boxes of toys to Mission Granbury last week…that the kids picked out (with my subtle influence of course ) We always bake tons of goodies for the neighbors and friends.
Thanks for the food for thought…next date night will be interesting conversation!

Naomi Rebecca said...


About the Catholic thing -- I'm just saying that because we are a different faith, we've never been invited to family gatherings. You'd have to ask them their reasonings. ;)

We don't have a specific September date that we celebrate Jesus' birth, but we do remember his birth during the Feast of Tabernacles. The date of this feast changes yearly actually.

It's important to remember that we are never admonished to remember His birth anywhere. We are commanded to remember His death and resurrection; that's the more important thing.

But all this aside, I think there are plenty of reasons to bow out of Christmas celebrations based on pagan traditions. Can't see God being pleased with that.

Just my opinion. :D

julie said...

hey ginger, i just wasn't bright enough to click your home page. i thought it would automatically go there.lol. i have to read all the comments when i am back from kaylas basketball game!