The Santa Question


Let me go ahead and preface this by saying I’m not the Church Lady from Saturday Night Live who thinks Santa is basically Satan.

In fact, we’re pretty fond of the jolly old fellow around our house. We just don’t, you know, tell our kids he’s real.

When we found out our daughter was on the way, I was surprised that the Santa Question even came up between my husband and me.

That’s just what you did as parents, right? You took your kids to see Santa at the mall, told them he was watching to see if you were “naughty or nice,” and then put out all the toys he brought on Christmas morning (after helping yourself to cookies and milk, of course).

This was my normal when I was growing up, and I had never even thought about doing anything differently.

This Santa is still welcome in our house. In fact, he is hanging out in our daughters’ room this season!

But my husband (ever the seminary student) brought up some good theological questions, and I started thinking back to my Santa experiences.

Like the time I made fun of a kid in my fifth grade class for still believing in Santa. (I was so mean!)

Or the friends I had who really were traumatized when their parents finally told them the truth.

Or how it kind of felt like I prayed to him on Christmas morning.

We weren’t sure we liked the idea of motivating our kids toward good behavior because someone was always watching and “knew when they’d been bad or good.” And while we’re on board with pretending to have tea parties or march around as dinosaurs, when it came down to it, we just weren’t comfortable with outright lying to them.

On the other hand, we didn’t think Santa was all bad. We wanted our kids to have that magical experience on Christmas morning, and we liked the gift-giving example he set. And he is jolly!

So, we’ve tried to find a third way–something between “Santa is really real as long as you believe” and “Santa is the devil.”

For us, that means having some gifts open and under the tree on Christmas morning and having fun with the build-up of getting there. It means putting a bigger focus on giving than getting. And it absolutely means not spoiling the fun for anyone else!

There will be no repeats of the fifth-grade trauma I caused if we can help it, so you don’t have to worry about my kids telling all the others in school about Santa. (Why my mother insisted I still make my picture with Santa after I stopped believing I’ll never know.)FWMB_Santa1

Even though this Christmas will only be our third as parents, I’m hoping it will be another good one and that we’ll hit the balance that we feel is right for our family on the Santa Question. Like so many parenting things, it’s an issue that each family has to consider what’s right for them–and what’s right for us might not work for someone else.

What about you? How does your family handle Santa?


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