dpp ’10 :: Believing is Up to You

by flowers on December 10, 2010 · 13 comments

Do you believe?

Unsurprisingly there has been a flurry of blog posts this past week declaring whether their family believes in Santa or not. Some moms feel like encouraging kids believing in Santa is part of the magic and wonder of childhood while others (and others) don’t want to lie to their kids.

Both Stone and I grew up believing in Santa and neither of us felt screwed when we found out who was really supplying the presents under the tree. In fact, I remember feeling very important and grown up now that it was my job to help keep the magic alive for the younger kids.

Back when Solshine was a toddler I was trying to figure out how I felt about it. I certainly didn’t want to lie to my kids, but I also didn’t want to be Scrooge. I spent some time listening to other families stories and beliefs and I came across a mom who had four kids and who had always told her kids the “truth” about Santa. Everything went swell until child #4 decided that she believed in Santa. There was nothing her parents and older siblings could say to dissuade her from believing. In the end, the whole family changed their tune and had a particularly magical Christmas.

That story struck me and I decided that I would never flat out lie to my kids, but that I would never dissuade them from believing if they should choose.

I’ve had to field lots of questions about how Santa will find us (we stay at grandpa and mimi’s house on Christmas Eve) and these past few years I’ve been flat out asked if Santa is real.

Here is how I answer:

I share with him the original existence of Saint Nicholas and tell him that people were so moved that we continued the tradition. I tell him that there are many, many helpers who wish to keep Santa’s spirit alive and parents pitch in to make Christmas magical. When I’m flat out asked if I believe I say that I believe in the spirit of Christmas and I’m not sure if Santa exists. I also tell him that it doesn’t matter what I believe or others believe–it only matters what you believe.

I know people who believe in a lot of things that can’t be seen or understood by traditional means of measurement. I respect that everyone has the right to live life according to their own beliefs. I believe there is more to life than what meets the eye and who am I to tell another what is and isn’t so.

Right now my 6 year old believes in Santa, but thinks all the Santas he sees around the town are people dressed up. My 3 year old’s eyes light up like no other when he sees any Santa anywhere. And that magic–I do believe in.

Does your family do Santa?

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Amber December 10, 2010 at 11:33 pm

Yes, we do Santa.

When my daughter, who is almost 6 asks about Santa, I change my answer based on the question. If it’s about the mythology of Santa, like, “Where does Santa live?” I answer it directly. If it’s something more complicated, I often turn it back on her. Like, “What do you think?”

She is a true believer. And this year my 2-year-old is also becoming a believer, spurred on largely by his sister.

I don’t think Santa is a lie in the same way that telling your kid that the stork brings babies is a lie. I tell my kids ‘harmless lies’ all the time. I hide the good treats from them and sometimes pretend I can’t hear certain things and stuff like that. So I’m OK with the occasional subterfuge, and since Santa has the added benefit of fun and magic, we are a Santa house.

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Mom101 December 11, 2010 at 9:26 pm

It’s such a funny debate when you think about it – that people look at Santa as a “lie” and the opposite is “truth.”

Is it a lie to go see a magician and call it magic? Is it a lie to ask your kids to give Mickey a hug, instead of referring to him as “that guy in the mouse suit?”

Fantasy isn’t a lie. It’s just a fantasy. And yeah, it’s magic.

Merry Christmas.

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Rachael December 12, 2010 at 3:14 pm

I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking about this topic in the past few weeks. Yesterday it hit me: Oh! Santa is a myth, not a lie! But then I started to wonder, Yes, but would I lie to cultivate this myth? And then today it hit me: Oh! If I believe in the myth myself (as a myth, not as a literal truth), then cultivating the myth wouldn’t be lying! But I guess I don’t know if I believe. And so your approach is really appealing.

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flowers December 12, 2010 at 3:29 pm

don’t you kind of wish you *did* believe ;)

Thanks for opening the myth distinction as well.

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Rachael December 12, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Ha! Yes — I almost referred to that poster that Fox Mulder had hanging in his basement office: “I Want to Believe.” (Though I’ve never had any particular desire to believe in UFOs.)

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Stacy (Mama-Om) December 15, 2010 at 5:58 pm

We’re pretty similar to you — I’ve never seen telling the truth about Santa as squashing the magic. We talk about the history of the holiday and the inspiration to celebrate and give to one another, and of how we all like to “play” Santa.

I have never said, “Santa is not real,” and I have never said, “Santa is real! He flies around the world giving presents to everyone in one night.” But every year, there is still magic.

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nessa December 19, 2010 at 8:23 am

You just described our family’s approach exactly! The magic of the season is alive and well, regardless. :)

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flowers December 19, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Alive and well for sure! Thanks for dropping by nessa :-)

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Cara December 19, 2010 at 8:39 am

We have a our own weird way of doing Santa Claus in our house that is for us, the best of both worlds. No one feels lied to but we still keep the magic of Santa and giving. We let our 2 daughters (now ages 6 and 4) play Santa on the 2 nights before Christmas Eve starting with youngest one.

They get to stay up extra late after we have all gone to “sleep” (8:15ish) to a plate of their favorite cookies and milk. Then they put their little handmade gifts for everyone under the tree, wearing a santa hat. The next morning my husband and I act totally surprised that Santa came and dramatically play act that we have no idea who ate the cookie and left the presents. The kids think it’s hilarious.

Then on Christmas Eve the “real” Santa comes. My 6 year old figured it all out herself this year with no tears or drama. She just asked me what her dad and my favorite cookies are. When I told her, she knowingly winked and said that’s what she’s going to leave for Santa. My four year old believes in Santa Claus still, and just loves to pretend to be him while she waits for Christmas. Our kids have been a lot more focused on the gifts they’re making and not what they’re getting which is another great bonus!

I think when my kids get a little older we’ll drop the individual nights and just see if we all can play Santa for each other on Christmas Eve without being seen. I’m thinking of leaving a camera near the Christmas tree so we can snap pictures if we catch “him”!

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flowers December 19, 2010 at 4:40 pm

I love this. I really enjoy hearing the ways that families create their own magic and fun.

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Stephinie December 19, 2010 at 11:33 am

Thank you for this. I plan on mentioning your post this week in one of my blog posts…. such a perfect explanation of how you celebrate your season. We do the same in our house… and so far as each of my big kids has found out… they have loved becoming part of the magic. I love this.
Thanks again!

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flowers December 19, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Thanks Stephinie,

I was just talking to my mother-in-law and we were saying that we’ve never heard of anyone being traumatized by believing in Santa.

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