When I was seven years old, I quietly opened the door to our guest bedroom and caught a glimpse of my parents wrapping Christmas presents. A few days later on Christmas day, I opened a gift from “Santa”: the exact gift I had seen my parents wrapping only days before.
I was a little confused, but immediately caught on that “Santa” was actually my parents.
I am by no means scarred or jaded by this experience. It’s simply one of those moments you remember from childhood. Most kids find out from older siblings, friends, or classmates; and it’s almost like a rite of passage into Big Kid World – that moment you learn Santa isn’t real.
When my son’s second Christmas came around, someone asked us what Luke would be getting for Christmas from Santa. I hadn’t given it much thought until that moment, but the more I mulled it over, and the more my husband and I discussed it, I was leaning towards not teaching our kids to believe in Santa. Even discussing the idea of “No Santa” was surprising because both my husband and I grew up believing in Santa – so did our friends and family. I was torn. On one hand, I wanted my boys to experience the anticipation on Christmas Eve as they lay awake wondering when Santa would visit. On the other hand, I didn’t want to see the moment when they learned it was all pretend.
There is no one reason why we decided not to teach our children to believe in Santa. Rather, it was a culmination of several things – the first being that I didn’t want to lie to my children. I know this isn’t a malicious lie, but I still felt guilty! I wrestled with the fact that one day I would have to look them in the eye and tell them the truth. I wondered wondered what their response would be. Would they be hurt, angry, or sad? Above all, I did not want to lose their trust. Secondly, when I was growing up, Santa always brought the best gift, always. New bikes, Power Wheels, Barbie Dream Homes, etc. If I am going to go through the hassle of searching for the toy and paying for it, you better believe I want credit for it! We do not buy our boys big items often, so when they do receive something highly anticipated, I’d love for my husband and I to be the recipient of the joy and hugs.
Lastly, we really want to focus on the reason for the Christmas season, and for our family, that is the birth of Jesus. I felt like focusing on Santa, presents, the elves, and reindeer was a huge distraction for us. I was afraid Christmas would become too materialistic.
I understand that most parents do teach their kids about Santa, and when my kids have asked, I tell them the story of St. Nicholas from long ago. I’ve also told them that some kids do believe in Santa, and that is fine! My boys know not to tell them otherwise, because they understand why other kids believe. This is a personal choice my husband and I made for our family. I completely understand why other parents teach otherwise. After all, I once too believed in Santa – I even left the reindeer carrots on Christmas Eve! It may go against the mainstream “normal” way to celebrate the holiday, but this is what we’ve decided is best for our family.