I don’t remember ever believing in Santa. Really. Even as a young child, I can’t remember going through the ritual of Christmas and actually thinking that Santa would be at our house. I somehow always knew it was just my parents. This didn’t diminish the “magic” of Christmas for me at all, I still looked forward to waking up early, drinking hot chocolate and eating the mandarin orange that was always at the bottom of the stocking.
Forward time by 30-something years, and here I am with a 5 year old, going through Christmas for the first time with a child that kind of understands what’s going on. She declared to me that the Santa in the mall wasn’t real, that he was just a man in a costume. I didn’t even have to tell her that. She also understands that the story of Santa is a fairytale like any other. I didn’t go out of my way to “ruin” the secret, or pronounce it to her, we just simply don’t puff up the myth of Santa in our house, and she just understands that it’s a fun story. She is super excited about Christmas still, because she knows she will be going to visit her Grandma Leslie that she doesn’t see very often, and that there will be lots of treats and presents. She’s as excited as any other kid.
My problem with Santa is the need of other parents to insist that a kid HAS to believe in Santa to enjoy the holiday, and that by not instilling the belief in Santa in my child, I am somehow depriving or neglecting my child’s needs for that magical belief. I reject that idea – I am not depriving her of anything because the belief isn’t something she ever had. She will not, however, experience the letdown and sometimes horrible loss felt by children who really believe in Santa when they find out he isn’t real and they’ve been lied to all their lives.
I don’t hate Santa, or the idea of him. I don’t disdain the belief in Santa at all. I don’t go into my daughter’s school proclaiming “Guess what kids? Santa Claus isn’t real!” I simply tell my daughter the truth, and teach her to appreciate the holiday for the same reasons I do: getting to have a week of time to relax at home with the family, visiting other family we don’t see often, exchanging gifts, eating a nice meal together.
Believe in Santa all you want, and teach your children to if that’s what you want to do. But don’t make me feel bad as a mother because I don’t promote it in my house, and don’t blame me when your kid figures it out somehow and is traumatised.