Ok…check it out…this blog might literally make you loath me from the bottom of your gut…but I’m putting it out there anyway. I am not writing this to tick anyone off, or even change parents’ minds but rather put a different view out there to be taken or not. I will be preaching to the choir for some of you, while others are contemplating throat punching me. Whoever you are, please, hear me out and keep reading.
I want to clear up first thing that we do not at all think Father Christmas or Santa is evil or anything. We embrace the real story about St. Nicolas and most things ‘Santa’. Our kids love watching a range of Christmas films starring the big guy himself and he features in many of our decorations, ornaments, cards and wrapping paper. The smaller kids will make the little reindeer food crafts at the school and one of my favourite books is ‘The Night Before Christmas’.
But…and now here it is…we tell our kids that he is fun and we just pretend. They believe he is fun, they can totally pretend but they know that Santa is not real and they know where their Christmas presents come from. When our oldest was young and people found out that we didn’t really ‘DO’ the whole Father Christmas thing, we had so many dramatic reactions.
Some folks, I kid you not, were close to calling Social Services on us for killing the magic and joy of Christmas for our kids! However, the ironic thing is that our kids love Christmas and are able to enjoy it in so many different ways because we tell them the truth about St. Nick. Therefore, here are just a few reasons why…
Few things make me cringe more than when I hear parents say to their own kids or strangers or well-meaning family and friends say to my kids ‘You better be good of Santa won’t bring you any presents this year!’ As if that is the only reason to be kind, overlooking, patient, truthful (sooo ironic on this one!) or put others first, because you want a bunch of toys!
How does that teach character? What do I get out of it?…and then I might be kind? I want my kids to know why they should be a good person and treat others well…not to just think about what they can get out of it.
Another issue I have with this principle, is that what we are essentially teaching our kids, is that if you don’t get toys…than you must have been bad and ended up on the naughty list. My kids have a decent worldview, they know how good they have it and are learning about places in the world where kids grow up without the same freedoms and privileges that they have. They also know that not every kid across the world WILL get a Christmas present…but it’s not because they weren’t good enough.
My kids need to know about the value of giving and how to be grateful. We want them to know where their gifts come from, so they can appreciate what that person has done for them and show gratitude. There is a real sense of entitlement now days with a lot of kids, and I don’t want to feed that with expecting a bunch of stuff from someone who’s job is to give you things?
The Truth Thing.
We love imagining things with our kids and pretending things. However, we are also very honest with our kids. They have all grown up (or are growing up) knowing the Animated film was a story but not real and which books are true stories and which ones are made up…awesome…but all the same made-up. We are also total sticklers for the truth in our house…it’s one that we are super strict on…so I didn’t want to lie to them about something that comes along each year!
Our kids know that many kids do believe that Santa is real, that they must play along and they love being in on the secret. They also know not to go around telling all their mates, and know that would upset them. (To my knowledge, we haven’t had any issues with telling they friends so far…knock on wood)
We are raising our kids as Christians. Ultimately, they will choose what they personally believe when they are older but we teach them the Bible and believe it is true. I never want my kids to think that those stories from the Bible, that seem amazing and out of this world, were the same pretend made-up, just for fun stories like Father Christmas.
However, you want to justify it, it is lying to your kids. I love the real story of St. Nicolas and that can be nice to share with them to show where the tradition originated. (And for those that are wondering, yes, our kids know that the Easter bunny and Tooth fairy are pretend too.)
Ok, you may think by now that I’m the Grinch and the murderer of Christmas joy.
However, I love all the many things that my kids get to do every year that makes Christmas so much better than the expectation of an obese man entering the house via the chimney. They love making and giving to others, who may be lonely or not as fortunate. We focus on the amazing gift of Jesus who came into the world to save us and change life as we know it…I can’t really think of a better reason to celebrate.
By all means, we still have ‘Father Christmas’ in many of our family traditions in a fun way. I haven’t written this to get all judgy-judgy on those Santa lovers out there. Many of our favourite people totally do Santa with their tribe. I believe it is always good to just evaluate now and again about why we do what we do, especially when it comes to our kids. I have and am still eating my words on loads of my parenting philosophies.