Our family celebrates Christmas. It’s what we do. We say “Merry Christmas,” teach our children to say Merry Christmas, and include the meaning of Christmas every day in December as the 25th approaches.
Our family is very blessed and for that I am thankful. Our children get gifts from every family member, and one gift from Santa.
I wasn’t raised on Santa. My parents claimed to have “never lied to me” which includes NEVER allowing me to believe in Santa. As a young married wife, when the topic of Santa came up with my husband, I told him that there’s no way I could teach my children about Santa. “It’s a lie.” I would tell him. “I don’t want to lie to my children….”
Well, my thought process changed when I had my first child, we call RJ. Our beloved newborn was still an infant for the first Christmas he spent on this planet and although we did not get him a present from Santa that first Christmas of his life, my thoughts on the whole ‘Santa-thing’ began to change. Maybe, there was a compromise somewhere for this time of year.
Fast forward two years in RJ’s life.
Our now two year old son, able to communicate very well and learning about the world sees Santa on TV, along the road as we drive by the mall, on billboards, you name it. My husband, who up to now has completely immersed our son with phrases like “Santa’s going to get you a gift this year,” and asked him “What do you want from Santa?” more times than I could recall, has been the sole source of our child’s Santa experience. If I got a question about Santa when our child was 2-years old, I would defer the question by telling our only child, “Go ask your father.” That year, there was no picture with Santa and of course, there was only the one present under the tree from Santa, something picked out by my husband from the approved list of things we were going to get our son anyway.
The following year, when RJ turned three, (coincidently in November) I had dinner with a really good friend who has a boy that is our oldest son’s best friend to this day. She told me something I will never forget when the topic of Santa came up in our conversation. She said “think of Santa as part of the lies you tell your child.”
What did I just hear her say?
She went on and told me to think about all the “lies” I’ve told my son up to this point in his life. I sat there stunned for a minute trying to both process her words and think to myself, “Have I EVER lied to my son?”
The reality of the situation (and I am a realist you know) hit me like a ton of bricks – I have lied to him.
“But it wasn’t harming!” I justified to myself. (Every kid has to think that vegetables taste good. Every child who is a fussy eater has been told that sweet and sour pork is a chicken nugget, right?)
“Santa can be good too.” An inner voice told me.
My mind was seriously blown.
My mind raced that evening. My parents lied to me too. Perhaps it was in the sneaky ways they did stuff, trying to protect me from the real things that were going on in our poor-living conditions while I was growing up. The stuff I found out about as an adult that were “kept from me” when I was a child, were sad things; certainly not joyful and dare I say, magical, but were kept from me to keep me from growing up too fast – something they ended up not being able to do anyway. Once I grasped that concept, my stubborn insistence on the whole Santa thing relaxed, a little.
“Why not tell my child about Santa,” I kept asking myself. My one excuse – about NOT-wanting-to-lie to my child – was thrown out the window.
Our celebration at Christmas has come to a compromise; we talk about Santa coming, enjoy watching movies about Santa, elves, and the magic of Christmas, and we countdown to Jesus’ birth as part of our Christmas tradition. Right now, Santa is real to my children, and I’m okay with that. It probably won’t be like that much longer. I can only hope, pray, and teach them that their faith in Jesus will last their lifetime.