It’s ALWAYS been my favorite holiday. I just love everything about it. And then I had kids. And forget about it. My love for Christmas took a turn to obsession. I made sure we did all the things: decorate cookies, assembled gingerbread houses, belted out Christmas music as soon as Thanksgiving was over, planned out shenanigans for our mischievous Elf, Peppermint, to get into, snuck around hiding Santa gifts, and basically trying my best to be the jolliest mom on the block.
The Truth About Santa
Two years ago, my covert abilities were caught onto by my then, 9 year old. That Christmas, after all the gifts had been unwrapped and we were sitting in a pile of gift wrap and ribbons, she whispered to me, “Mom, I saw that sweater Santa got me in a bag in the kitchen.” OOPS.
Imagine my surprise and trying to finagle myself out of that one. I don’t remember exactly how I responded, but I remember trying to decide what to say. I decided to go with the truth.
We talked about how Santa isn’t real and how Mom and Dad do things to create fun memories. We also talked about how she can now help us create those same memories for her little sister. And so we carried on but after that conversation, I started thinking more about the tradition of Santa Clause and why we decided to carry on that tradition in our family.
I brought it up to my husband a few times, since then, in a light, joking way, that we were basically lying and going over the top for some fake, old guy. We both laughed but shrugged because, well, that’s just how it was.
No More Santa
Now, my daughters are 11 and 8 and I also have a 2-year-old. I’m not sure if it’s because my kids are getting older or I’m getting more realistic about expectations around the holidays but I didn’t want to do it this year. I still wanted to do gifts, decorate cookies, sing holiday songs, watch the movies, etc.. EVERYTHING else but Santa. A few main thoughts kept coming to mind when thinking about it:
- The effort– when I look back to see how much effort we put into making Santa happen every year I get exhausted thinking about it. The planning, organizing, the secret-keeping, the hiding, the stories, etc. When I think about NOT having to do all that, I breathe a sigh of relief.
- The lie– to be honest- as much as it’s fun and well-intentioned, at the end of the day- we were leading our kids to believe a lie and lying to them every single year.
- Santa can take away from the true meaning of Christmas– for us, Christmas is about faith, family, love, and giving. It’s really not about a man in a red suit coming down your chimney to leave you presents in the middle of the night.
- Let’s be honest- I got tired of giving some fictional guy in a red suit all the credit!! We do a lot for our kids every day and holidays are no exception. I wanna take credit for giving them their most favorite gift, ever!
- Just because we don’t do Santa, doesn’t mean the magic can’t happen. Absolutely nothing will change in our celebrations or how we spend the time with each other. Everything will remain the same, except our kids will know it’s not from Santa or his Elves.
I felt a little twinge of guilt when we told my 8-year-old. I thought, “Oh my goodness, I am going to give her some unresolved trauma by taking away the magic of believing in Santa.” I also wondered if she was too young and worried I’d be ruining childhood for her. Then I reminded myself that what we want her to learn about the true meaning of the holiday and that doesn’t stem from Santa.
Believing in Santa doesn’t make a happy childhood.
I know there are a lot of families who don’t celebrate Christmas, Santa, etc. and the kids are perfectly happy, healthy, and well-adjusted kids. Telling her Santa isn’t real wasn’t going to change that. If we could do it over, we probably would have never started Santa to begin with. Of course, kids always surprise us, in the best ways possible, and she rolled with it. She asked a lot of questions and not surprisingly was appalled that we had lied to her all this time.
We told her that nothing would change, that we would still celebrate all the same ways we have in the past, just now, she will know it’s not Santa. We also talked to her about how other families might celebrate differently and choose to do Santa in their house and that’s ok!
We can still talk about Santa as a funny, jolly fictional character but that’s it. We’ll still do stockings and read about Santa and watch movies with Santa in them. Don’t worry big guy- we’ll still talk about you!