Thursday, December 10, 2009

TFT: Santa

This idea was spurred on by a discussion with some friends last week:

Do your kids believe in Santa? Why or why not?

Do you talk about Santa coming into your house and delivering presents or that Santa has a list of good little girls and boys?

If not, have you actually sat them down and told them that Santa is not real?

Just curious!!


ErinL said...

I've pondered every single aspect of this discussion as well. I've seen families with 13 year olds who still believe and they will do anything to keep it that way and I've seen families who don't do Santa at all. One friend said that when she learned Santa was not real she questioned her faith and never wanted that to happen to her kids. I respect that, but we took more of a middle ground. We ended up making the decison that we wouldn't necessarily sit them down and tell them he wasn't real, but we also wouldn't go out of our way to encourage belief. When Clayton was rather young he came to us and said "I think you are Santa". When I asked why he said "Because you use the same wrapping paper as Santa". Whoops. As I said, we weren't going out of our way. After that there was no hope for Evan. Clayton was sure to inform him as soon as he was old enough to understand. The thing I have to be careful of is that they don't spill the beans for other families that choose to keep Santa in their traditions. They are very respectful of that but they have slipped once or twice. So what do you do?

Nicole said...

Our kids do believe in Santa, even our first-grader (though I suspect by next Christmas he won't). We try not to make a huge deal of it, and Santa only brings a couple of presents each and the rest comes from us.

They are definitely cognizant of wanting to be on the good list...

Erin K. said...

(WARNING: I wrote a book here!)

Kaitlyn is just now old enough to be aware (all on her own) of all the things that come with Christmas, so this is the first year we've really had to wrestle with the issue. Mike's family did the whole Santa thing but mine did not.

My parents never sat us down to have a big talk about Santa not being real - it just never was an issue. We usually opened our presents on Christmas Eve, which I never thought of as being a strange tradition until one day, after college, when I realized that most people had to wait until Christmas morning to get their presents because of the whole Santa thing. I think that us opening our gifts on Christmas Eve helped to make Santa a non-issue. It also helped my parents to get more sleep on Christmas morning, which was possibly the ulterior motive. :)

Mike and I decided to take the same approach as what I had growing up - we won't discourage the idea of Santa or not let her watch things that have to do with Santa, but she will know that all her gifts come from us. We also focus more on the Christmas story and try to emphasize that we give each other gifts because of the gift God gave us by sending Jesus to the earth, and because of the gifts the wisemen gave to Jesus. I want her to know that, while it is fun to GET gifts (heck - I enjoy that part too!), the most important thing is learning the joy of GIVING gifts.

Also, I don't know how I feel about all the folklore (or whatever you want to call it) that surrounds Santa. I do think it can mess with a person's view of God, depending on how it was presented to them and how they responded to it. The idea that someone is keeping track of whether you've been naughty or nice, and then will give you a gift based on this behavior, I think influences how some people view God. And that feeds the idea that we have a God who gives gifts based on performance, which is absolutely untrue. I don't want this to come across as judgmental towards those who do Santa with their kids - it's just that these are things that have been rolling around in my head as a result of a discussion with someone about how the Santa thing affected her in a negative way. (Mostly due to how her parents handled it.) I think you can do it in a way that is for fun and is lighthearted and still honors Christmas as being centered on Christ.

Oh, and, we haven't yet crossed the bridge of what to do about Kaitlyn spilling the beans to other kids. Mike and I used to teach Sunday school and we did have a precarious situation one Sunday when a fight broke out in the kindergarten class over whether or not Santa was real. :) I thought we were going to have a Santa smack-down!! I think we'll be ok with this (with Kaitlyn) for this year, but next year we'll definitely have to have a strategy!

Great discussion!