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Why Santa Doesn’t Visit Our House

Our family loves Christmas.

A typical night in December will find us all huddled around the kitchen table with me addressing holiday cards and our three year old son coloring on the envelopes while my husband snips elaborate snowflakes and the kitten bats around the scraps. This wholesome scene is no exaggeration. We bake cookies, we open windows on the advent calendar, we watch the Muppet Christmas movie, we put way too many ornaments on our tree, and we hang up stockings. There’s just one thing we choose to leave out of the Christmas season: Santa Claus.

santa doesn't visit

For our family, the Santa myth has no part in our celebration because we believe that it is totally possible to have a magical Christmas without lying to our children. I hear about parents going to great lengths to make Santa seem more real for their children: leaving mysterious footprints outside and eating the cookies off the plate. It just doesn’t sit right with me.

Why do all of this? Why try so hard to convince a child that something is real when it’s not? How do they feel when they find out that this whole time it’s all been a fabrication? Where does the magic go then?

If you were to stop by our house early on Christmas morning you would see our tree, weighted down with decorations, and my son’s stocking hanging up on the railing of the stairs. The only difference between our house and so many others is that instead of signing the packages, “From Santa Claus” we simply write, “Love, Mommy and Papa” on each one. Trust me; my three year old is no less excited about the entire thing. When Wolfy was littler, I considered whether or not we would do the Santa game with our little boy. My husband and I talked about it a great deal and he was even more adamant than I was about not doing it. When I really thought about telling Wolfy the Santa Claus story, it just seems like a ridiculous effort to get him to learn this whole story about a bearded man sneaking into his house in the middle of the night accompanied by flying reindeer. Why would I try to convince him that this myth was indeed true? And if I did tell him that story and he found out that I had lied to him, what would he think when I tried to tell him about other, more important spiritual and religious things?

My son’s world is full and amazing – he has no shortage of experiences: watching giant trucks, hearing an owl hooting while flying over the house, flying in airplanes, going to the symphony with his grandmother, and learning to care for his very own kitten. The world is an amazing place and I love watching my son discover it.

I don’t have to pretend that Santa is part of it because the truth is so much more interesting.

When we’re out and about and see someone dressed as Mr. Claus, Wolfy says, “There’s a Santa!” We treat Santa Claus about the exact same way we talk about Thomas the Tank Engine. One time Wolfy heard a train whistle and said he thought that maybe the train was Thomas. This prompted a discussion about Thomas being a character and the train whistle he heard belonging to a real train. I told him that it’s totally okay to like characters but that those things aren’t real.

When I was a little kid, I remember asking my mother the big question, “Is Santa real?” My mother answered my question with one of her own, “Do you really want me to answer that question? Because I’m not going to lie to you.” The funny part is that I actually decided that I didn’t need to know the answer after all. Then, later that year or maybe the next year, my mom was shopping at a big department store. She asked my grandmother distract me for a few minutes but as we were all walking to the car, I saw through the plastic bags that my mother was clutching. Inside there was a My Little Ponies set, the exact one I had been begging Santa to bring me. Suddenly it all clicked. I remember being so disappointed – I liked believing. So I asked my mother, “Can we still pretend?” And for a long time we did. We both knew the truth, but the Santa ritual continued like a goofy game.

So if I liked pretending, why am I denying my son this tradition? Because even as a child I knew that I could trust my mother. It was like the, “is Santa real?” question was a litmus test. And even though she didn’t give me an answer I wanted to hear, she passed. She told me, “I will never lie to you. I don’t believe in lying, even to little kids.” I figured that if she refused to lie to me about Santa, she must really be telling me the truth about everything else. She wasn’t holding back on me and she wasn’t going to treat me like an immature kid that couldn’t handle the truth. Knowing or not knowing, that was totally under my control and I liked that feeling. This is probably why I don’t believe in lying to my children either.

If Wolfy ever wants to pretend that Santa, the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, or even Thomas, are real, we can do that. But both he and I will know we’re just pretending. It can be our goofy secret.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

 

Written by Britta

unnamed-6Britta spent her early twenties hopping freight trains and hitchhiking all over America.  When finally she settled down, she studied creative writing in college and became an elementary school teacher.  She is currently a stay-at-home-mother and total 1950s-style homemaker, living with her husband and three year old son, Wolfy on fifteen acres in a falling-down farmhouse that they remodeled themselves. In early February, they are expecting a baby girl.  Follow Britta’s personal blog at http://www.thisismotherhoodblog.com

 

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13 Responses to Why Santa Doesn’t Visit Our House

  1. Rose mallow December 19, 2014 at 8:50 am #

    Yep. Nicely explicated. Thanks.

  2. Kris December 20, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    Our children know about Santa, but they know he is a story character. They are welcome to pretend Santa comes, just like they are welcome to pretend with any other stories we read at home. When my oldest was 2 or 3, he was horrified with the idea of a strange man we had never met coming into our house while we slept. Who can blame him? We explained that Santa was just a character in a story and all has been wonderful since, with the exception of my horrified MIL, who thinks we have ruined the magic of Christmas for our children…

  3. Jenni December 21, 2014 at 7:37 am #

    I guess when I was younger, I just always knew. I have two older sisters and two younger sisters besides a brother. There has just always been someone who was older and knew the ‘big secret.’ And in a house full of girls, a secret is practically impossible to keep! However, for some reason, the tooth fairy escaped my disbelief and we always thought she was real… :-/ I think the hubs and I will have to talk about Santa with our mini, he is only 11 mo right now so it won’t be important until next year.

  4. Sonnet December 22, 2014 at 8:37 am #

    I did not read the whole story you wrote but what I did read I just can’t imagine not having Santa in our house. It’s one time a year. Your child is only 3 years old, what do you tell your child when he/she gets older and does not understand why Santa visits others and not me. It’s wonderful when your child gets up to see what Santa gave them. And yes my children has gifts from mom and dad and also Santa. What’s wrong with giving children something that is not real. So I guess you don’t do the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny. Everyone lives different, but that’s life!

    • Jessica December 22, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

      I really agree with you Sonnet! I am 37 years old and I still believe in Santa even tho I know he’s not rwal! These poor souls that don’t believe, really have no soul!

    • Jane December 23, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

      If you’re going to take the time to comment, take the time to read the entire piece. It’s common courtesy.

  5. B December 22, 2014 at 8:35 pm #

    My mind is blown. This is at least the fourth time I’ve read something like this from religious people. If you don’t want to lie to your kids, fine. That means telling them that Santa is pretend. That also means telling them that god is also pretend. If you talk to your kids about “more important” religious things, and speak of them as facts, you’re lying. I honestly don’t care what people teach their kids about Santa or the Easter bunny or god, but I’m completely disgusted by these public expressions of “I won’t lie to my kids,” from people who do it every single Unless you explain that god lives in your heart and mind and there’s no reason to believe he exists, you’re a hypocrite.

  6. Erin December 22, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

    believe- don’t believe that is up to you, but as a mother of a 3 yr old, I am asking you to please teach your son how to keep this to himself. It is your decision to tell your child what you want as much as it is mine to allow my child to believe. Please don’t let him take this from other children.

    • Julia December 31, 2014 at 9:00 am #

      Yes, my 5 and 6 year are told that it is not their job to tell other kids what they know about Santa Claus–they know it’s a conversation that parents have with their kids.

      However, as kids age, the Santa believers will inevitably be exposed to other kids who will “spill the beans.” (My older sister figured it out at age 5 and immediately blabbed it to me at age 4, so the Santa traditions were very short lived in my household!) As an elementary teacher, I can assure you that it will happen. Be prepared, and think carefully ahead of time how you will respond.

      One of my primary reasons for not celebrating Santa at my house is that I absolutely hated the idea of having that dreaded “Santa is not real and I’ve been intentionally deceiving you” conversation with my kids. It’s far more important to me that my kids to be able to trust me and know that when they come to me I’ll tell them the truth than for me to perpetuate a silly entertaining fantasy.

    • MonkeyMama December 21, 2016 at 10:48 pm #

      I let my children believe. Unfortunately, their father didn’t agree. At the ages of 2&3, he told them I was lying. We still do Santa 5yrs later. I simply told them that Santa is magic. And magic is only true if you believe in it. I now simply remind them of this fact every time they ask. If they come to me, telling me that so and so said it’s not true, I ask them “do YOU believe?” And the answer is still a yes. One day the answer will be no and I will be able to tell them that I never lied. Magic isn’t something that is made on it’s own. Someone has to create it so that others can believe in it. As long as they believe, I will create it. When they stop believing, then they can help me create that magic so someone else can believe. However I’m not ready to stop playing tricks with the elves or sprinkling their rooms with tooth fairy dust or even decorating the house green each year tge leprechauns escape the trap we set. I live in a very magical home. I couldn’t see it any other way!

  7. Kristie December 22, 2014 at 10:53 pm #

    You took the words from my mouth! We also do the same thing. We have an amazing magical Christmas but we have never told our kids that Santa was real or delivered gifts. If we saw him in the malls our kids we’re welcome to sit with him but they knew he was a character per say and for pretend. My kids never were deprived and more so we talked about the true me meanings. We tried to be positive to others about Santa because we know others believe differently so we agreed to allow their magic to be theirs and not to judge their pretend. I explained the spirit of Chrisrmas is expressed in more than one way but for us we wanted to build trust and vowed to be extremely honest about all things in life from the beginning while yer pretending a few times that the tooth fairy came as my daughter knew the truth but we agreed to do down games. The magic of Chrisrmas can be the secret deeds you do for needy families or the special gifts you make including traditons. Once someone said don’t let your kid ruin Santa for us and I said don’t ruin the truth for my kid or downplay it Either however your secret is safe because she doesn’t disrespect anyone about it. We also started new traditons when the kids got older and that was getting up at midnight to open gifts! Magic doesn’t have to be far fetched , it happens when others believe in a different kind of miracle.

  8. Julia December 31, 2014 at 8:37 am #

    We don’t do the Santa thing at our house either–I’m an elementary teacher and I just cannot bring myself to intentionally teach my kids something that is not true–no matter how fun it would be for them to believe in it. I hate the crass materialism and sense of entitlement that is so prevalent in so many of my students this time of year–Santa represents a cosmic vending machine that encourages kids to conveniently deny the concept of economic scarcity and opportunity costs. My 5 and 6 year old understand that their gifts cost money, which is not limitless, and they appreciate them more because they hear us say things like “No, we can’t eat lunch at Chick-Fil-A today because we’re saving money to buy Christmas gifts instead.”

  9. Nicole December 21, 2015 at 4:47 am #

    I wonder if your son is asking more questions this year. My so. Was 3 years old last year too and no Santa wasn’t a big deal but this year it’s different. His classmates and teachers have been talking about Santa and gifts from Santa and he does understand why he doesn’t get one.

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