There will be no Santa Claus at our house.
I know, I know, we are horrible parents. But it’s OK, I can still live with myself despite the fact that we won’t be pretending that an overweight old dude will be taking 1/1000th of a second to do his thing at each house he stops at.
“But what about the magic of Christmas?”
For me the so called “magic” of Christmas doesn’t need to include telling my child that a fat and seemingly immortal (the modern depiction of Santa with his sled-pulling reindeer has been around for nearly 200 years) grandfatherly-like man will be breaking into our house through the chimney to sneak around our home, consume some milk and cookies and leave some presents under a tree.
It is also not a competition to see who will buy the biggest s***load of presents for a child (or about simply buying an incredibly unreasonable amount of gifts for said child to put under the tree for that matter). Nor is it about calculating the monetary value of the gift received by person “X” and making sure that the gift you will be giving to person “X” is of the exact same value the next year (yes, I know someone who does this and yes I was past flabbergasted when I heard about it).
For me, the magic of Christmas resides in spending quality-time with family and giving. Notice I did not say “gifting”, but “giving”. There is a world of difference between the two in my opinion. One can give time (as in spend time with someone, help around the house…) and that simple act can be very much more appreciated than the most expensive present.
Our tradition over the past years has been to have some fun in the kitchen and cook up some food that we know our parents and friends will appreciate and will be able to use throughout the year. I also enjoy crafting my gifts and though I do purchase some gifts, I will do so only if I see something that makes my brain say “WOW, person “X” would really love this!”. I don’t like following lists and I certainly don’t count to make sure that I spent “enough” money on each person. I want my son to have fun: to cook and bake with us, to craft with us. I want him to learn that it’s not the actual present that counts, but the time taken to think about the person who will be receiving the present. For me, that is the magic of Christmas.
“But, don’t you remember how disappointed you were when you learned that Santa didn’t exist?”
Both my parents and in-laws used this argument to try to convince us to get my son to believe in Santa Claus. Maybe I’m just dense, but I fail to see how this is an argument in favour of Santa. I mean, let me put it this way. Perhaps, for the next 8 years or so, I should tell my son that for one of his upcoming birthdays, we will be going to Disney. I’ll show him some pictures and videos, I’ll have him learn the names of the characters. I’ll get him super excited. SUPER excited. As the years go by, he may start to doubt. He may start to ask when exactly we’ll be going. He may start to ask if we’re really going. Of course, being awesome parents, we’ll convince him that we will indeed go. We’ll give him some “proof”, show him some reservation tickets and the like…until one day where we’ll say: “Oh, you’re right Charles, we’re not really going to be going to Disney”. “Awww, you’re disappointed? It’s OK sweetie, but weren’t you just SOOOO excited for the past 8 years?”
Oh wait, so you don’t think that is a good idea?
“But what about the kids at school/daycare? What will you do when they start talking about Santa?”
What do the kids do in multicultural areas? What happens when Muslim, Jewish and Christian children are all in the same class? They talk, they argue, they all go home and ask their parents and their parents give the explanation they want to give. When my son will hear about Santa, he’ll ask us. We’re not going to shield his eyes from the images and his ears from the name. For us, Santa is going to be a fictional character that people like to talk about around Christmas time, just like Link, Harry Potter and Caillou are fictional characters (thank God, because Caillou is one annoying little kid!). When his friends go home to their parents and tell them that Charles said Santa doesn’t exist, their parents will either keep up the story, decide to fess up or call us and complain that their child is now doubting the existence of Santa (oops!).
Of Christmas and Santa
Those who know me, know I hate Christmas. Actually, I should specify that I hate what Christmas has become. I hate that as soon as Halloween is done, we are almost immediately surrounded by all things Christmas. ‘Buy this, buy that, your child will love you for it!’. ‘Your girlfriend needs a diamond ring and ours are the best so spend your money here!’. I hate the social pressure (fed by the multitude of ads) that says that you need to buy a whole bunch of presents. I hate the stress associated with going to the mall at the very last minute to buy those last gifts you need. I mean, come on people, since when has it become OK to be stressed out to give something. Giving should make you feel good, not stressed out.
I also have a problem with Christmas music, but that is because I am a musician. Why does that matter, you wonder? It matters because when you play music, you inevitably are going to be doing a Christmas concert and since Christmas is in December and you actually need to practice the music you’ll be playing, you typically start playing Christmas music a couple of weeks before Halloween. *Shudder*
There are also a few things I don’t like about the whole Santa story.
- As a parent, I want my son to learn about honesty. So why would I lie to him for a number of years by pretending Santa exists?
- I also want my son to be/feel safe. So why would I tell him that it’s OK for Santa to break into our house and sneak around while he’s sleeping. And why would it be OK to accept a gift from him when it’s not OK to accept a gift from a stranger (I mean, he is a stranger after all as you can never meet him).
- I want my son to learn about justice and injustice. So how can I justify that the bully in his class, got all the presents he asked for even though he ought to have been on the naughty list and that the other child in his class who is always an angel but whose parents are so poor they have trouble putting food on the table got nothing? I mean, if Santa really did exist, the bully would get a lump of coal and the angel would get everything he asked for, right?
Just to be clear, I’m not judging parents who continue the Santa tradition at home. I’m only saying that it is something that we have chosen as a couple to veer away from. Teaching about Santa, much like any other parenting decision should be up to the parents. Ultimately, you do what works for you, right?
Will Santa be coming to your house this December?