Back in the days of cassette tapes, unrealistically proportioned Barbie dolls, and the inception of the Internet, a little girl believed in Santa Claus. She believed in Santa so hard that she turned a blind eye to any evidence to the contrary until she was 9 years old. This did not make her one of the cool kids.
She actually found out the truth on Easter. Her mother excitedly told the girl that the Easter basket the Bunny (in whom she also chose to believe) had left was originally hers (the mother’s). The little girl’s eyes widened.
“WHAT? Does that mean the Easter Bunny isn’t real? What about Santa??”
The mom looks around nervously.
“Uh, what do you think?”
The girl cried a few crocodile tears, then wandered off to find a snack, probably an apple, because she also believed the “apple a day keeps the doctor away” shtick, mainly because she hated needles.
OK, you’ll have to ask my mom if that’s actually how it went down, but that’s how my over-dramatic memory recalls said events.
I remember specifically deciding to believe in Santa so I wouldn’t lose that sense of Christmas magic.
Fast forward 20 years, and I’m now the mom of the story. And my husband and I are faced with developing our family’s Christmas traditions, including our feelings on jolly ol’ Saint Nick.
To date, I have yet to feel comfortable talking to George about Santa. Even last year, when he was only 2 and still innocent to the ways of potty training and the location of Yemen, I struggled to incorporate the tradition of Santa. I felt so fake and obvious trying to get him excited about, frankly, a lie.
I know, I know, this post will probably ruffle a few feathers, but I feel like I’m wandering around in the dark on this topic. This is yet another parenting topic we’re all trying to figure out, as I apparently left the How to be the Perfect Parent handbook in labor-and-delivery. And each family will feel differently about it.
The Hubs and I are starting to lean away from Santa. Y’all. Christmas is about Jesus Christ. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Believe what you want about Jesus Christ himself, but there it is. And in a culture that’s continually trying to drive Jesus out of the picture, I see Santa as an easy and obvious distraction from what really matters—from who really matters.
I’m pretty sure we can pull off a magical, sweet Christmastime for our kids—filled with surprises and treats—while also keeping the focus on Jesus’ birth. We won’t be cutting into their childhoods or short-changing them. We’ll still have to fight materialism and self-centeredness. But maybe there’s a way to tone down the lies and pump up the truth? And, yes, I realize St. Nick was an actual person, but, have you read his story? Apparently, he was all about Jesus.
I’m going to try something new this year. Through Facebook, I learned about the Christmas Dove. Instead of having a mischievous Elf on the Shelf, the Christmas Dove encourages families to serve others. Every night, the dove “flies” around our community, looking for someone in need. It comes back with a report and the supplies needed to encourage that person (i.e. a treat for the mailman or diapers for a local shelter). I want to instill in my kids a spirit of generosity and an awareness of others’ needs. They’re too small to jump in full-force this year, but I’ll try a few. I realize I’ll still be making up a story to accompany a plush figure, but isn’t the result So. Much. Better?
So, please, uphold your family traditions, set out the milk and cookies, and inflate the giant, red-swathed man on your lawn. Even break out the elf, if you feel the need. I grew up with Santa, as did my husband. I think it’s a fun tradition, and I won’t judge you in the least for continuing it. I feel awkward for being the family that doesn’t fall in line, and I’ll have to figure out how to handle that, especially when George starts asking.
But in a day and age when it’s becoming less and less (and less) cool or acceptable to focus on the true reason for the season, let’s take more than a minute to remember the baby in the manger.