Boy oh boy has this been a hot-button issue this year… at least it has in our home. It all began after I spent a day working in a Kindergarten classroom. We had a visitor come to the classroom to discuss a Christmas project that involved Santa, when one innocent little girl announced that she did not believe in Santa. “Okay, cool” was my immediate reaction, but the visitor had a very different response.
He became visibly upset, angry even. He began to tell the little girl that not only did he believe in Santa and still receive gifts from Santa, but that EVERYONE around her believes. She looked confused and embarrassed and said, “But, my Mom told me Santa isn’t real”. Not quite knowing how to respond the man told her that if she didn’t believe than Santa wouldn’t bring her any presents, the rest of the class agreed and the little girl was obviously ashamed for what she just honestly admitted.
Now, I am certain that this visitor, who is actually a nice man, did not intend to embarrass this little girl or teach her that her Mother is wrong, I am sure he just wanted to keep the belief alive for the other kids. However, this was soooo not I would have preferred the situation to be handled. Since I am no longer the classroom teacher, and was only subbing I didn’t find it appropriate to interrupt with a “Dude, no. Just drop it.” So, after his little speech I whispered to the girl that it is perfectly fine for her to not believe in Santa and to listen to her Mom.
This whole experience reminded me of my own childhood experience with Santa. In first grade, I began to seriously question Santa… I was a very realistic kid. I remember having debates in the car and asking all the typical questions.. “How does he do it? How can he survive in the North Pole? How do reindeer fly? What about kids who don’t celebrate Christmas? Why do some kids get tons of big presents who aren’t necessarily good? And vice versa?”
When these questions didn’t crack my parents I began to ask them more challenging questions, ones I knew would hit home… “Soooooo, if Santa sees everything we do, knows if we are good or bad and is magical…is he God? Does he work with God? Know God? Why isn’t he in the Bible?” Hah! Answer that! I don’t remember their actual responses, but I remember it being a struggle and I could see that they were on the verge of breaking. They weren’t necessarily big on the whole Santa thing anyways, it wasn’t our main focus, but I think they enjoyed doing it and wanted me to stay young and gullible a bit longer.
Too bad. I soon found a toy from Santa…it was a bucket of pink legos. I very distinctly remember carrying it to my Mom who was in the middle of a bath. I barged in and said something like… “So this is from Santa, right?” Yes, Hilarie. “Okay. Then WHY does it say Layaway ‘Mom’s real name’ Wal-Mart?!?!?!” (I was an advanced reader.) Fine. Hilarie. Fine. Santa is not real. “I knew it!”
I was so satisfied to discover the truth, and it certainly did not ruin Christmas for me or even any of the magic. I never argued with my friends about Santa at school… my parents made it clear to me that this would not be cool. For years, I even pretended to believe simply because it was fun. I still left out cookies and milk, pretended to look for the sleigh on Christmas Eve with my cousins and woke up at the crack of dawn to see what “Santa” left. Even today, I love watching the classic Santa movies and force my pets to take their photos with Santa. It’s just fun… even if it’s not real.
Anyways, all of this thinking had me wondering, what will Husband and I tell our kids about Santa? Husband’s experience was quite different. He happened to be pretty darn gullible and believed that his Grandpa who dressed as Santa every single year was actually Santa. He would actually tell his Grandpa when he came back to the room, “I can’t believe you missed Santa AGAIN!” So cute. So innocent.
While discussing Santa and all that comes with him, this video about whether or not their should be a black Santa became viral (It’s worth watching)…
I guess I’m not the only one having a Santa debate. I just don’t get why he is SUCH a big deal. Is he really news worthy? I mean he is not real, so why do we tend to freak out when a child discovers the truth? There are just so many other things to focus on this time of year.
We decided that our kids will learn about Santa one way or another…so, we will watch classic Christmas movies, read the famous books, take annual pictures and they’ll learn all about him at public school and we are cool with that, but it will not be our emphasis. Once they pop the “Mom, I’m serious, be straight with me..” question. I will be just that. I have no intention of forcing this belief beyond this point. It’s just not what I find the most important detail this time of year.
What about you other parents/future parents? How do plan to handle the Santa debate?