So I’ve been thinking about Santa.
First of all let me say in no way am I trying to say that one choice is better than another. I’m just kind of hashing out my own thought process.
But I’ve been wondering about the idea of Santa and babies.
I just always assumed we’d “do” Santa. I loved the whole thing growing up… and actually kind of wish I didn’t know how Santa uses parents.
A couple of things have thrown a small wrench in my thinking so I’m using this blog to go through what I think. Of course the Little Angel (LA) is so small we could always change our minds. But here is what I currently think about the idea of Santa.
First of all when Steve and I talked about how we would raise our child we talked about how we wanted to be honest. When she asks about things like “Where do babies come from?” etc we aren’t going to lie…. we may not tell her the whole story but we will be honest and give her the facts she needs for the time. (For example saying that the Daddy puts the baby in the Mommy which is a child friendly version minus details versus the whole stork thing or something).
So when we got to Santa Steve laughed and said, “So we’re going to lie to her about Santa but nothing else?”
I paused. I don’t want to be a hypocrite but he was right, we just finished saying we didn’t want to lie to her.
This gave me something to think about and I came to the conclusion that, hypocritical or not, I don’t care. I think believing in Santa was good for me growing up. So was my faith in the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy and a firm conviction in magical garden fairies. It’s magic. And a childs youth is supposed to be seeped in magic. Some of my favorite memories involve straining to hear hoof beats on the roof or trying to sew rose petals together for the fairies or wondering if the tooth I placed under my pillow would be accessible enough. Magic.
Life loses some of the sparkle when you enter the real world. A world where princes don’t ride in on white horses, fairies don’t bestow magical birthday gifts, your pony won’t talk (or fly you to a magical realm) and the mortage is due at the end of the month.
If it takes lying to my daughter to give her that magical childhood I remember then I am ok with that. I never felt ripped off when I learned the truth, in fact I remember wishing I hadn’t found out!
The second reason involves the real reason for the season. I know several families who decided not to “do” Santa because they felt it conflicted with the focus on the birth of Jesus. I do not wish to imply that this is wrong. It’s admirable to try to keep the focus on the real reason. But I have two thoughts on this issue….
The first is, in order to really keep the focus on Christ then there really wouldn’t be any point to doing any of the holiday traditions. The tree. The cookies. The gifts. They are all ultimately distracting from the real reason. Especially the gifts. We give gifts for two reasons (in my understanding)- because Jesus was given gifts and because he was a gift to the world. (I’ve also heard because you give gifts on a birthday). But really that doesn’t make sense because why would we give each other gifts….. Santa Claus was originally Saint Nicholas. A good man who gave gifts to poor children who were without. He was a Christian who did these good deeds because of that. I think that if you are going to continue to do gifts that Santa goes along with….. in my mind at least. I will want LA to know how Santa Claus fits with the real meaning of Christmas so she knows it all ties together.
And secondly there are lots of other ways for children to understand the real reason for the season. When they are very young Santa helps them understand the concept of giving and that we do this for the celebration of the birth of Baby Jesus. As they grow older you can shift their focus more to the idea of giving and the incredible gift that God gave at Christmas. I remember lots of family traditions that helped my brother and me keep the focus on the holiday. I hope to do these with LA as she grows up. We always lit the advent candles at home leading up to Christmas. We kept a little manger near the nativity and whenever we did a good deed we put a piece of straw in the manger. On Christmas Eve we would place a little baby Jesus there and sing Happy Birthday. The better we were the nicer baby Jesus’ bed was for him. I remember that was always very important to me as a child. We gave toys to Toys for Tots and went caroling with our church to the elderly and the sick. I never remember the focus only being on Santa and the toys. I remember thinking that Jesus’ birthday was just so special that magic, like Santa, could happen because that was what God did to celebrate the birth of his son.
This year it doesn’t matter because LA isn’t really going to understand what is going on, irregardless of if there is a Santa or not. But I feel better about our decision to encourage her to believe in him. I think it’s a magical, symbolic part of the season that I want her to have. And I think we can teach her what that the holiday is about far more than bows and ribbons and a fat man in a suit.