– Santa doesn’t come to our house.
– My son doesn’t write a letter to him.
– My daughter doesn’t help set out milk and cookies.
That’s right. We’re THOSE people. Let me apologize in advance if one of my children happens to ruin Christmas for yours. It’s not personal, I promise. As a matter of fact, we haven’t really had a specific conversation about Santa to this point. He doesn’t really come up. Both Ethan (5) and Kate (2) would recognize the man in the red suit and could identify him as Santa, but they’ve never had their picture with him and they don’t expect gifts from him on Christmas. It would be interesting to see how my five year old might respond to your questions about the jolly old St. Nick because in our house, he’s treated much like Batman or Dora the Explorer — an interesting character to enjoy but not a real person to meet.
Obviously, everyone has reasons for their approach to Santa Claus, but my wife and I have decided not to make him a part of our traditions around the holidays. I’ve seen a few articles floating around over the past year or two that gives some of the reasoning why you might choose to divorce the man in the red suit from your gift giving tradition, but I prefer to frame it as a few simple questions that can really be applied to a lot of the ways we celebrate Christmas…or any holiday for that matter.
Why am I doing this?
- He was always a part of Christmas for me growing up, so I want my children to have that experience.
- It’s a fun way to add excitement to the holiday.
- Everyone else is doing it.
- It’s behavioral conditioning. I mean, be honest. At least some of you have used Santa to threaten your kids into better behavior.
What am I teaching?
Will it impact the future?
I honestly don’t know. A quick search found a few different ideas on the subject. They range from a Huffington Post article that says it can be healthy to a Psychology Today article encouraging parents to Say Goodbye to the Santa Claus Lie. As a Christian, part of my thought process involves how a belief in Santa may impact my son and daughter’s feelings about Jesus. I don’t want to over-spiritualize it, but I also know that my faith is an important part of how I address things like Santa, super heroes, aliens, and more. I enjoy playing Batman vs. Superman as much as the next dad, but at the end of the day, my son knows it’s make believe. That’s a much different deal than hearing year after year that he has to be a good little boy to get what he asks for on Christmas.
Please don’t be alarmed. I’m not on some personal vendetta to see Santa eradicated from children’s books and malls. I’m not anti-tradition. I actually love tradition. I love the way that our history connects and grounds us. In fact, a proper understanding of the actual Saint Nicolas and the origins of the Santa Claus myth might be an interesting addition to our holiday conversations. We have just decided that Santa doesn’t have a place in our Christmas, and whether you end up at the same place or not, I hope you’ll at least ask the question, “Does he belong in yours?”
“Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store.”
– Dr. Seuss