Santa has been definitely been reimagined since I was a kid; On Christmas morning I would wake up to a room FULL of presents, wrapped in two different papers. One print from my mom and one from Santa. There was no big revelation when I learned the truth, somewhere around age 6. My cousins broke the news to me and I remember not being too terribly devastated or distraught and I don’t recall an overwhelming feeling of being lied to by my mom.
I’ve heard many families say that the problems they have with “doing” Santa is that they are concerned over the lie. They are feeding their children or the big extravagant gifts some children seem to get from Santa while others get much simpler things.
I don’t really do Santa in my house, but it isn’t because I’m worried about the lie or the other stuff. I just think it’s kind of meaningless. The parts of Santa I don’t like are more about how your behavior affects whether or not presents happen. I am a devout person and the tradition of giving gifts is embedded in our reason for the season. And generally we don’t use behaviors as a gift giving reason for other occasions. Gift giving is a show of love.
No matter what my personal feelings on a Santa filled Christmas are, he’s actually pretty impossible to avoid. So, I’ve shifted my focus on how we do Santa. Rather than completely ignoring him and hoping he goes away, I’ve taken a new approach.
Santa is like Mickey Mouse.
Mickey Mouse is a mascot for so much of what Disney represents, he is recognizable, amusing and fictional. My three year old knows that Mickey Mouse is just pretend. We might talk about Mickey and everything about him like he really is our bud but even she knows, it’s just for fun.
Santa is also just for fun, it’s just pretend, he’s the mascot for secular American Christmas. He does not bring presents (my hard earned money and love for you does!) but we can still watch movies and say fun stories about him. We don’t act like he is real.
Yes, I know Santa is based on St. Nicholas, who was a real person. We celebrate St. Nicholas day, and my children do receive small (religious) presents. But Saint Nicholas does not come to my house to deliver these either, I did in his good name. The gifts are to celebrate and honor St. Nicholas’ own generosity in freeing enslaved children and prostitutes.
I used to get really worked up about keeping Santa out of our lives, but now I feel more relaxed about it. Sure, I’ll let my kids take a photo on his lap but I won’t go out of my way for it. I do like to participate when it’s for charity. Just like when we’re at Disney and I let them take a picture with the princesses. It’s just fun.