Christmastime is here, and it means something different to everyone. For some (not me), Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus. For others, it is about welcoming winter and observing the solstice. Whether you’re keeping the Christ in Christmas or getting back to your pagan roots, there seems to be an element that people of all (or no) faiths have in common, and that’s participating in the deception of children everywhere by making them believe that there is a magical fat man who brings them presents and watches them year-round (stalker) to make sure they’re not acting like little buttholes. Can you guess whether the perpetuation of that myth is something that I participate in? Spoiler alert: It’s not.
My family doesn’t do the whole Santa thing. When I tell people this, I get a lot of various reactions; and one of the most common is that I am ruining Christmas for my kid and taking away the magic and wonder of the holiday season and what is wrong with me, WHY DO YOU HATE CHRISTMAS? What people don’t realize is that while they may associate Christmas magic with believing in Santa, I don’t. Some of my best memories from childhood are of Christmastime, and NONE of those memories has to do with leaving out cookies and milk or writing letters to the North Pole.
My memories are of my mom taking my brother and me out to get our annual Christmas ornaments while my dad stayed home and wrestled our beast of a tree into twinkling submission. I remember my house being filled with the scent of cinnamon, pine and cranberries. I recall spending Christmas Day at my aunt’s house, eating, singing and playing with my cousins, and how the day seemed to last forever. I understand that Santa is a vital part of other families’ holiday traditions—he just never has been a part of mine.
The other response I tend to receive from parents is one of borderline panic that my kid is going to destroy their child’s belief in Santa. When asked "just how I plan on making sure my kid doesn’t ruin it for others," my first instinct is to yell, "I REFUSE TO BE A PAWN IN YOUR TWISTED GAME OF DECEPTION, AND SO DOES MY CHILD!" and run away, but I don’t, because then I’d be the mom who not only ruins everyone’s Christmas but is also crazy and yells strange things. If you want to tell your child that Santa is real, fine—but it’s not my responsibility to perpetuate that illusion. As far as my child "ruining" Santa for yours, look at it this way: If your family is Christian and mine is not, and my child tells yours that Jesus wasn’t real, do you think that your kid will just automatically forsake their Christian faith forever because my kid stated her opinion about Jesus? If you want your child to continue to believe in something, empower them to believe no matter what someone else says. My child has just as much right to vocalize her opinions as any other kid, and while I plan on teaching her to be respectful of the beliefs of others, I’m not going to teach her to be silent or ashamed of hers because that isn’t fair.
So why don’t we teach our daughter to believe in Santa? To be blunt: I don’t want to lie to my kid. And let’s be totally honest here. If you tell your kids that Santa is real, you’re lying to them. I am not saying you are maliciously lying to your child because I understand that Santa Claus is an essential part of creating holiday memories for some families. But he’s not to mine, and I don’t want to tell my child a lie year after year. I also don’t want to have to deal with the inevitable questions that come along with that lie because my responses would be horrible:
—"How does Santa fit down the chimney?"
—"Because he's made of rubber."
—"Where does he live?"
—"Does he live in a house or an apartment?"
—"What’s his middle name?"
—"What’s his favorite food?"
—"Sardines and whiskey."
—"Does Santa watch 'The Walking Dead'?"
—"No, he's more of a 'Breaking Bad' kinda guy."
—"What does Santa do when it's not Christmas?"
It’s also important to me that my children know whom their gifts came from. I don’t want my kids growing up thinking that just because they’re good all year, a rotund man from the North Pole is going to come and shower them with the latest and greatest toys. I need my children to understand that those presents come from people who love them and who work extremely hard to give them those gifts.
I know that this can be somewhat of a heated topic amongst parents, but all I ask is that if you’re a Santa family and find out that we aren’t, don’t look at us like we are crazy, horrible parents. We are a little crazy, but we aren’t horrible parents just because we choose not to tell our daughter that Santa is real. And you aren’t horrible parents for telling your children that he is. I think we can all agree that the holidays are for enjoying our time together as a family and for creating awesome memories that our children will cherish forever. And also for eating a lot of pie. Everyone can get on board with pie. Pie for everyone! Merry Piemas to all, and to all a good night.
Natalie Green is a Chicago girl living in Chattanooga with her husband and their 3-year-old daughter. When she’s not working full time outside of the home, she enjoys reading, writing, singing, zombies and running. From zombies. And also beer. You can stalk her blog, Mommy Boots, or follow her on Twitter @mommyboots; or you can email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.