We don’t do Santa

When our kids were younger, we never told them Santa is real. We did tell them that Santa is fun, and read the stories (yay for Clement C. Moore!) and watched the TV specials (stop-action reindeer rock) and sang the songs (well, most of them; we never did take to Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer).  In fact, once in a while the kids would ask to sit on Santa’s lap at a mall and we’d stand in line with the rest of the families. (If you want to know whether a mall Santa can ever give someone what they really want, look here.) They had fun sitting there and chatting with the big guy, but I don’t remember the kids ever actually asking him for anything.

For us, Santa was never more than a story person.

My kids are grown up now, but I still like to stay in touch with what’s happening among the younger family set. That’s probably why I read this article on one Santa’s adventures.

Santa Phil (the man featured in the article) has been at this for decades and has a lot of amusing stories about happy kids, sick kids, poor kids and rich kids. As you can imagine, I was grinning by the time I got to the second paragraph. But then, half-way through the article, I cried:

One time, two adorable girls clambered up onto Santa Phil’s lap as their dad handed him a cell phone.

“He told me, ‘Mom’s on the other end,'” Santa Phil recalled. “‘She can’t be here because she’s at home dying of cancer.'”

I’m glad some people do Santa.

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17 Responses to We don’t do Santa

  1. sarahtun says:

    Poignant moments with kids stick forever.
    Early in November, when my husband said this year ‘we’re not doing Christmas’ my son paused only briefly. His birthday is 29th November. He must have been thinking about this because he said, ‘well, I’d like a big birthday then’.
    The thing is, in our household it is no secret that my hubby – a wonderful man who loves Jesus – really doesn’t like Christmas. I could write a blog on this but will simply say, since every year he’s tolerated the 25th December marked to celebrate Jesus’ birth, I figured this year we could give it a by for his sake.
    Since that early November day, our son has had a great birthday (nothing more or less than originally intended) and hasn’t mentioned Christmas. He ‘gets’ his dad, we all love Jesus and St Nicholas was a wonderful man who gave good gifts to poor children many, many years ago.
    Blessings for Christmastime (I normally do Christmas)!

  2. I wasn’t raised with Santa, but my 2nd born daughter converted me when she was about 4yrs old. She pointed out that there HAD to be a Santa! How else could we get so many presents? Once this OBVIOUS point was established, I let her tell me about Santa. My children have been teaching me about Santa ever since. ♥

  3. michellevl says:

    I didn’t grow up with Santa (8 nights of Chanukah = 8 nights of loot) and my husband’s family was pretty low-key when it came to Christmas, so we approached the subject of Santa similar to the way you handled it with your kids.

    We were at a mall one day, and a Santa was there. My daughter, then about 5 or so, asked if she could go sit on his lap. I said half-jokingly, “You know that’s not Santa, right?”

    She said, “I know. But I want to believe in him anyway.”

    And I’m glad that those little girls and their mom believed in Santa Phil.

    • Tim says:

      Michelle, Adam Sandler’s Chanukah song is one of my all time SNL faves, so at least I have a smattering of Chanukah celebration in my traditions!

      And I love how you handled that with your daughter, and her response. What a great memory for you.


      • Aimee Byrd says:

        Teehee, Sandler’s Chanukah song is on my Christmas playlist. So is John Denver’s, “Please Daddy Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas.” What can I say; just fun to sing.

  4. I think this is the route we’re going in. My parents never pushed the Santa thing, but they didn’t dissuade it. I have very vivid memories looking frantically for Santa in the sky, or trying to stay up as late as possible to hear Santa in our living room. It was fun — sort of like believing in fairies or unicorns. Then I just sort of grew out of it.

    I don’t feel comfortable telling my daughter(s) about Santa as if he were real, but I think the story-Santa idea makes sense — or even teaching them about the real St. Nick. But I don’t really see the point in trying to make them “believe.” Why not just make it a story like other fantastical things?

    J.R.R. Tolkien used to write and decorate ornate letters from “Father Christmas” to his children. There’s a book out with the letters that we used to read as children. They are beautiful, and I thought it was cool that he went through all that trouble to do it. Again, it’s not something I would do, but if you ever see the book, pick it up. It’s beautiful. (We had a hard cover version where you could literally “take out” the letters from “envelopes.” I can’t find it on Amazon — looks like that version is out of print.)

    • Tim says:

      Like fairies or unicorns – exactly, Rachel. And I am going to keep my eye open for that Tolkien Father Christmas book. I wonder if I can get it through the library?

  5. Katie says:

    I guess my parents did much as you did. I don’t remember ever actually believing in Santa (though perhaps I did when very young), but my mom still wraps presents for us from the big guy.

    It’s good to leave room for magic in this world, I think.

    On a side note, home videos testify that, when I was very young and living in Virginia, we had Christmas parties where a friend dressed as Santa for the group’s children. So if I ever did believe in Santa, I believed he was a black man with a rolling Southern drawl.

  6. Aimee Byrd says:

    Matt and I have always said that Santa was something we pretended. I wanted to be honest with the kids. But all still wanted to believe nonetheless. My 7-year-old son asked on the way to church the other day if Santa was God. He said that Santa would have to be God to pull the whole thing off. He didn’t mean “a” God, he meant God playing the role of Santa for a day–because he knows that there is only one God. So, again, we talked about Santa being something that we pretend, but that it was a good thing. For us, it represents how we are all receivers of an abundance of grace through Jesus Christ. Our God bears many gifts in Christ. And like our little son, we have no income of our own to give in the deal.

    • Tim says:

      It sounds like your take on Santa set up a great opportunity to talk about God on that car ride to church, Aimee. What a fun conversation to have with the kids. How did the older ones take their brother’s question?

      And your comment about “no income of our own” reminds me of C.S. Lewis’s phrase “six pence none the richer” about how a parent can give a child six pence in order to buy the parent a present. The parent is at the end six pence none the richer, but the relationship is immeasurably enriched.

      • Aimee Byrd says:

        The girls just listened–or pretended to 🙂 They of course think it’s cute that H is still trying to figure out all this Santa business (even though we have been upfront from the beginning, like I’ve said).
        Indeed on the Lewis quote.

  7. Pingback: The Night Before Christmas | Tim's Blog – Just One Train Wreck After Another

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