Decision made. I’m going to leave the mom-guilt on the shelf and make the decision that feels right to me and that is: I am NOT going to teach my kid the Santa Claus myth. This is always a hot parenting debate around this time of the year and I’ve heard every good and bad argument for and against Santa Claus and his whole posse of reindeer, elves and that very supportive wife of his. I’m talking EVERY argument and people are cut throat and passionate about their position on the matter to the point of being absolutely rude. Bottom line, I don’t think the pro-Santa parents need to be so mean to the non-Santa parents and vice versa. Can’t we just agree to disagree?
My daughter just turned two and a half and this is the first Christmas she knows who Santa is. She recognizes his image, but she hasn’t been taught that he flys around the world in a sleigh pulled by magic reindeer to come down the chimney and leave gifts for good boys and girls. At this point, I’m pretty sure she just thinks he’s a pretend character that is a lot of fun. Wacky, huh?
I’m really ok with her knowing the Santa story – in fact we have the Tasha Tudor The Night Before Christmas book at our house and we love to read it together – and even talking to the Santa at the mall. Last week we were lucky to catch him during a slow period and he was kind enough to chat with my daughter for free. I just don’t feel right about teaching her to believe a fake story just to get into the commercialism of the holiday. I’m also not into the “if you’re good you get a present” philosophy of life. Probably explains why I’m not a Christian. No offense, but Santa-anity and Christianity are VERY similar, you must admit. I’m trying to teach my child to be good because that’s the way human beings should be, no matter what. Intrinsic goodness. Kindness. Generosity. Love. Just for the heck of it. What a concept.
I’m not a religious person at all, so it’s not important to me to celebrate the holidays like a maniac, but I’m not above celebrating a special season. I love the music and the lights. The general festivity of it all. I grew up with big, traditional Christmases and I have many fond memories of thinking Santa was coming and then getting crap loads of toys. But no matter how fond those memories are and how grateful I am to my parents for doing so much for my three brothers and me, it’s not quite what I want for my child. I don’t want to foster a love of “things” in my child.
I’d like her to understand the holiday season as time to celebrate togetherness with friends and family, a time to be grateful for what we have and to share with others. We try to act this way all year round actually, but the holiday season can be a special reminder of just how lucky we are.
I’m not a total Scrooge either. I did finally break down and buy a tree this year. A small Wal Mart number. It cost $20, the string of lights was $1.84 and I have a nice box of beautiful ornaments that my mother collected and saved for me over the years. I did my super single-mom duty of lugging the tree home, assembling it, lighting it and getting out the ornaments. My daughter was enthralled for the first three ornaments and then she found an orange luggage strap that just happened to be in the box of ornaments. She got REALLY excited about that, ditching the tree decorating completely. While she pretended the luggage strap was a seat belt, a necklace, a jump rope a back pack and more, I decorated the Wal Mart tree… by myself. And I’m sure I will be un-decorating it and putting it away the same way.
I understand the many reasons some parents “do” Santa Claus with their kids and I’m a-ok with it. To each his own and I will do my best to teach my child to respect other peoples’ traditions and family celebrations and hopefully she won’t spoil the fantasy for her Santa believing peers. I just hope that all those parents pretending to be Santa Claus each year, ask God for forgiveness for lying to their children. Just kidding. Happy Hanukkah everyone!