Okay, I know you are wondering why would parents ruin their kids' childhood by telling them this?? (you are also thinking “I better keep my kids away from their kids!!” aren’t you??)
It might not be what you are thinking and it is not nearly as bad as you are picturing.
They do enjoy being children, they love Christmas just as much as any other kids out there. They made me crazy begging to decorate the tree, Eli bounds down the stairs every morning, excited to open the next window on the advent calendar, and they even talk about the excitement of getting gifts from ‘Santa’.
It was my husband, Jeremy, who decided it should be this way when we first had Hannah eight years ago and when he explained his reasoning to me, it made sense. He just wanted our kids to know to whom they should be grateful for their stockings-full of presents. But out of that one reason have grown a plethora of reasons that I am now thankful that we don’t have to keep up with a lie.
First of all - it is a lie. It is the one thing that almost all parents consistently lie to their kids about. Do you remember how you felt when you found out the truth?? A little disappointed? Or were you the older sibling who spoiled it for a younger one? It was ruined for me when our family was staying in a hotel on Christmas Eve and my sister woke me up and pointed to the end of the bed where our Dad was trying to quietly fill the stockings. Sure, it did not destroy Christmas for me, but there was that lingering feeling of, "gee, what else are they lying about?”
It is just plain creepy. Sorry, I really don’t want to offend anyone who is trying to keep up the Santa thing, but think about it, we tell our little kids to go sit on a stranger’s lap?? I just saw a link to a HuffPost story about Sketchy Santas - Santas who’s laps you would not want your kids to sit on. When we are all worked up about having our kids patted down at the airport for security reasons and yet we have no qualms about telling them that they better be nice and sit on Santa’s lap? My eight year old is the one who told me this year that it is creepy when I asked if she wanted to see the Santa house in town. I feel a little more comfortable knowing that she knows that something like that is creepy. Not to even mention the fact that we act as if it is a wonderful thing that some creepy old man is breaking and entering into every house in the world. I don’t think I’d sleep to well if I had been scared of the Santa at the mall if I was told that he was coming to my house while I was asleep!
Jesus is the reason for the season. No, we aren’t going to go all Evangelical on you. Our kids are not going to be competing in the Bible bee any day soon. We are a good sampling of the ‘frozen chosen’. That said, when our kids talk about Christmas, they talk about baby Jesus. The two year old took baby Jesus out of his manger and made him give me hugs and kisses the other day. She said, "baby Jesus loves you!” And I know that she gets it. We are celebrating Jesus. Not some jolly old man. They enjoy singing in church on Christmas Eve and are not anxious to get out of there so that Santa can come already.
Work. Jeremy overheard a co-worker talking about the great lengths she was going to in order to keep her two middle-school aged sons believing in Santa. I don’t know about you, but I just don’t have time to stress out about keeping up the task of establishing proof of a non-existent being.
Gratitude. It was the original reason we had for teaching them that these things are not real. They know that Mommy and Daddy are Santa, the Easter bunny and the Tooth fairy. They know that Mommy and Daddy have a limited budget so they don’t get worked up when they don’t get some really expensive toy in their stocking. And when the tooth fairy forgets, they know who to hit up! They know that listening to us and behaving themselves really does matter because who knows if Santa can see, but Mommy is right here and you better not do that! And when we can pull off that one cool gift, we get little arms wrapped around our necks in gratitude. And it feels so good.
All this said, I do believe that we are all entitled to our own holiday traditions and I have no intention of messing with yours or judging you for yours, this is what works for us and I thought I’d share it in case you are trying to decide for yourself or wondering what it is like when they know.
Christmas is magical because of friends and family and the birth of Christ. We don’t need much more than that.