on Santa, and Christmas

I was going to buy M one thing for Christmas, plus a stocking. Well, this is not working out so well. I have ended up wanting to get her the handful of things she’s consistently said she wanted: a Princess Celestia and Night Mare Moon pony (found both together for ten bucks on ebay), a Littlest Pet Shop Jet (she wanted a plane she can take her figurines in a ride in), a Mermaid tail (the kind her half-sister was wearing on FB), and little mermaids and bath color tablets for the stocking (cause she’s obsessed and we have none left). These have been her requests pretty consistently for the last three months. And then she has one gem stone dig gift already wrapped in the trunk that I grabbed from a toy store that was going out of business, it was 50% off. Then dye-free candy for the stocking. So… that plus the couple of gifts I got for my niece and mom, and I’m trying to keep it under $200.

I also told her I’m buying her presents for Christmas, not Santa. I don’t feel comfortable being the one who feeds into the myth that an old white man who doesn’t work except one night per year get all the credit for the Christmas magic. She does believe in Santa because of other influences, and I’m not going to say Santa isn’t real. But I’m telling her that I’m buying her presents, and I even let her tell me which ones to buy. I’m not going to have her write a letter to Santa or threaten her that this old guy will hold a grudge against her or punish her for bad behavior. Christmas will happen whether or not she’s “good” all the time (and really, no one is good all the time so what kind of unreasonable expectations are those?).

Someday, sooner or later, she’ll ask if Santa is real. And I’ll ask her if she’d rather know the truth, or if she would like to keep believing in Santa. She can decide. And if she does want it confirmed that no magical old white man comes down the chimney on Christmas Eve, then I will tell her about Santa representing the magical feelings of Christmas, and being a very fun thing to pretend, just like we pretend fairies and mermaids. (Well, unless she still wants to believe in fairies and mermaids, then I’ll say just like we make-believe that we are superheros or whatnot.)

I honestly don’t think this will ruin the spirit of Christmas for her at all. I do think it will send her a healthy message about honesty, and the fine line between believing something because it’s fun and being purposely led to believe something and then feeling tricked. I also want her to know that I will respect her wishes, to know the truth or keep believing. I trust her to be able to make that decision for herself.

Gentle disciplining and respectful parenting practicing moms and dads (and grandparents/aunts/foster parents etc), what are you doing as far as Santa goes? Obviously there’s no one right way.

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Categories: parenting

7 Comments »

  1. We do it all, santa and elf on the shelf and Christmas Eve rituals before santa comes. At just barely 3 and not quite 2, they don’t really understand the whole concept, they just think it’s a neat part of the holiday season. Over the next couple years we will probably have to adjust our stance on the whole thing when they start questioning it more. I will say that we don’t go for the punitive aspect of things. Santa is a cool dude who brings presents, and elf on the shelf is a mischievous little boy who gets into trouble, the kids’ behavior isn’t addressed or attached to gifts on Christmas.
    Personally, I hope we have many years with them believing. I spent a lot of years being indifferent about Christmas before having kids, and I’m really enjoying the joy and sense of wonder about the season that comes with having all these littles.

  2. We do the whole Christmas magic thing, too. I respect people who don’t, and I think you make valid points here. I just get so much joy out of the wonder. The elf has zero effect on my kids so I’m kind of over her, but she’s still lurking…

  3. I am adamantly against the elf on the shelf in the way I have seen it used. I tell Wallace Santa is from stories, which are fun, and that presents come from the people who love and care about him. I would skip Santa and possibly Christmas altogether if it weren’t for social pressures to play along.

    • My elf is currently hanging out with a robot making a mess with fruit snacks. So far, you know after one day and all, they think he’s hilarious. Last year looking for ‘Christmas boy’ was the first thing Ali wanted to do every morning, we both had a blast with it.

  4. Santa comes and fills stockings at my house. Wrapped presents, under the tree, are from Mom & Dad. My kids never wrote letters to Santa – they just simply expressed Christmas wishes in general. And I never did the whole “Santa is watching” bit. That’s creepy. As soon as my kids were about 5, they knew the truth. I never lied. And once they figured out one magical creature, they figured them all out. I’ve never had a kid lose a tooth that still believed in the tooth fairy. Santa still comes every single year to fill the stockings. The traditions stay the same. They just know it’s us now.

  5. I’ve never done Santa with my 4.5 and almost 8 year olds, and they have lots of Christmas magic anyway. We’re not religious so I don’t like lying to them about anything to “believe”. We don’t do lists and they’ve never cared what they get as a result, which is a total bonus. When my older one started asking specific questions I told her it was like fairies, a fun thing to pretend. She’s never “ruined it” for anyone else, she doesn’t care what they think. They help me fill the stockings for the other one and their dad and love it!

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