Do you ever feel like a fraud when it comes to Santa Claus? I sure do. I came from a household where Santa Claus was celebrated and carrots and cookies were placed on a plate in the kitchen every year. I was heartbroken when I learned the truth about Santa Claus, despite years of having a vague suspicion that my parents were hiding something from me.
I still love to wake up when it’s still dark out to open gifts because nothing is better than family time with soft Christmas music and warm white Christmas lights (yes, I prefer white lights on our tree and windows). Eating freshly baked cinnamon rolls with a cup of coffee in my hand while the kids open their gifts is my ideal Christmas moment. But I still feel like a fraud.
I feel like I’m part of some elaborate ruse that is simply deceiving my children about something that will ultimately break their hearts. This feeling is new to me this year. My children (aged 5 and 7) have started to question the feasibility of one man visiting every kid in the world in one night. They have questioned how he gets into our home (especially since we don’t have a chimney). And my son is a bit uncomfortable with the fact that he, “Uses the door to get in.” Cue the age-old Santa debate.
I’m starting to feel like I owe them the truth. I’m afraid that all I’m doing now is prolonging their inevitable discovery. I’m walking on eggshells to not destroy a dream that they honestly aren’t even completely comfortable with.
My children even question if Santa Claus is truly watching them and if they won’t get any toys if they don’t listen to my husband and me. The fact that children are told that if they misbehave, that they will lose gifts hurts my heart.
Then there’s the matter of simple economics. Gift values. I honestly don’t think that how much you spend is what matters, but I do know that kids talk about their loot. And when one kid says they only got one gift from Santa Claus and the next says they received 10, how does it make that first kid feel? This really can open up an entirely different debate, but the fact is, kids don’t understand why this difference would exist.
I’m not a Scrooge. In fact, if I haven’t made it clear, Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love the music, the lights, the traditions, and the activities. I love hot chocolate after the kids play in the snow (I stress the KIDS play in the snow because I don’t enjoy the cold, and you won’t be seeing me involved in that snowball toss or making snow angels.) And I love presents. I love gifting them just as much as I love receiving them.
It’s a fine line we parents must walk. We don’t want our kids to be the ones responsible for ruining the magic for other children, but in the same respect, we shouldn’t hold back on what our family wants to do out of fear of ruining it for someone else. We want our kids to experience magic, but telling them lies feels contrary to our parenting beliefs. The Santa debate has no easy solution.
Then there’s the Elf. Oh, the Elf. We don’t do the Elf. Truthfully, it creeps me out, and it’s way too exhausting to try to be that creative on a daily basis for an entire month. And you run the risk of having an event that we encountered. We were visiting friends and our kids touched their Elf. I don’t know if they were devastated or not, and thankfully they are an incredible family, but our kids still broke a rule about the Elf that we didn’t know existed.
We have plans in mind for when the truth about Santa Claus is finally uncovered. We will still do all the Christmasy things, but we want to travel. We want to use Christmas week as a chance to go on family vacation to a new destination each year. Using that time to create memories and enjoy new experiences together is far more important to us than material things. Our children feel the same way, and we know they will embrace this new tradition with open arms.
Ultimately, we need to focus on us, and what works for our family. We want our own traditions and our own way to celebrate, regardless of how we were raised and how every other household celebrates. And we want our traditions to be in line with our parenting beliefs. We respect the choices of every other family and promise to always instill that same respect in our own children. Our kids will know and understand that there is nothing satisfying or kind about ruining magic for another child.
Though I understand why some families approach Christmas with myths and magic, we want to take Santa Claus out of the picture in our home. This process doesn’t need to be an “End of the World” moment for our children, but my husband and I want them to understand that one momentary indiscretion or misbehavior won’t result in presents being taken away, and we also want to continue with our practice of not lying to our kids.
Today, for our family, nothing has changed. We believe in Santa Claus, and the Santa Claus debate has not come to any conclusion. Yet. But when the truth is revealed, we are excited to start our own, new family tradition.