Recently, a question was posed on a parenting email list that I belong to. To summarize, a mother of a toddler found herself considering whether to support the idea of Santa. Her worries were those of many families I know – not wanting to lie to our children, discomfort with patriarchy, not wanting to support consumerism, etc.
My response forced me to reflect on what “the subject of Santa” has come to be in our own home, and I’ve decided to post it here since it reads rather like a blog post and may be on the minds of other parents of young children during this season. Happy Holidays!
I originally came to this topic from a similar place as the original poster mentions. My adult ideals threatened to overshadow the small but strong and persistent little people that were emerging in my life. And to be perfectly honest, we simply did nothing related to Santa. We decorated a bit, and talked to our kids about what we did while we were growing up. We had a tree, enjoyed family and food. But then around two years into this whole parenting adventure, we began to experience Christmas from the perspective of our kids. At this stage (ages almost 3 and 4.5), they want SO badly to believe in magic and in Santa. For them, it’s not about “the stuff” or having a big old guy watching every move you make. (Twigs and coal would be pretty much the best gift ever in their eyes!) It’s not about lying to our kids.
I still have inner conflict sometimes (mainly when I have to answer tricky questions!), but it has become a fantasy for all of us that enriches our family. Like so many stories of our youthful imaginations, the world of make believe is their reality and it gives them SUCH joy. I simply do not have the heart nor see the reason to crush it for them. They made the decision for us (Santa – and the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy – for them are figures that they have crafted from books and stories and their own imaginations and experiences), and it has reminded me of positive parts of my childhood that were buried deep. We as parents have the power to help set any “expectations” surrounding the holiday season(s).
As with all things in parenting, I truly believe, if you come at it from a place of love, *that* is what sticks over the long term. There is no reason that, ultimately, this time shouldn’t be woven into their sweetest memories. I realized my parents’ role in our holiday traditions when I was ready, and while I was sad, I remember feeling so thankful. I know not everyone had the same experience, but it is what you make of it. Santa doesn’t have to be about consumerism… The winter holidays are a time to be creative and reinvent and establish your own traditions… To remember what it is to possess innocence, and believe.
All this said, every family needs to do what is right for them!
I hope this season is filled with great magic and love for all families here.