Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Santa Debate


Christmas is approaching. I am dying to decorate my house. My house looks it's best when the halls are decked. Almost all of my Christmas shopping for my children is done. I love the Christmas music in the house and car. I can't wait for a Christmas tree to shine in my living room. This year, we are getting a flocked tree and we haven't had a flocked tree in 4 years. (Myth: flocked trees are messier than regular trees. That is false. So false. The flocking actually holds the pine needles on.)

While I love this time of year, I feel so confused and conflicted. The whole Santa thing is hard for me. Flat-out lying to my children.

Since Jack has been a little boy, he has been mystified by how I can know what he is doing when I am not looking at him. You know, the whole thing how a mom has eyes behind her head. Whenever I would tell him to stop doing something and I wasn't looking at him, he would demand how I knew he was up to no good. Eventually, my response was "I have magic eyes." Over the years, he truly started to believe it. He would refer to my "magic eyes" all the time and how much he hated them because he would get caught being naughty. As parents, Ethan and I thought it was so funny to watch him fall for it. We thought it was adorable.

One night, about a year ago, Jack and I were ending a day where we had been on edge with each other endlessly. Out of no where, he looks at me and says, "Mom, are your magic eyes real or not?" I was about to give him my usual lie and say yes, but I decided to be straight up. "No son, they aren't real." His face turned to shock. Pure disappointment. He cried big fat tears, really sad ones. Through his tears, he asked, "Mom! Why would you lie to me? Why?" I felt horrible. I am his trusted parent and friend and I had betrayed his trust. Most people would tell me that it doesn't matter, he is a child. But he is a person. A person I love so much. And the truth is, I did lie to him. I had lied to him for years. I was taking advantage of his naivety for my own entertainment. Watching his reaction was too much to bear. I held him and we both cried. I apologized over and over again. What a parenting moment that was! Oh the things I learned!

I have thought a lot about this experience over the last year. It has taught me a lot about Jack. He doesn't like being duped. It hurts him badly when he finds out he has been tricked. You would think that a child with such a vast imagination would be on board with any fantasy. But I have found that he would like the reigns when things are being made up. At some point, he will want me to address the Santa issue and I know it will be sometime in the next month. I am still formulating my answer, but I do plan on telling him the truth. I can't lie to his face. I am not exactly sure how I am going to say it, but I am going to do it in a sensitive manner.

After watching Jack's reaction to my lying to him about magic eyes, I have realized I need to phase out a lot of Santa Clause in our Christmas. No letters to him or visits to the mall imposter. Do I allow letters to Santa? Of course. But I don't initiate it. We don't read "The Night Before Christmas" on Christmas Eve. We read Luke 2 instead. Santa still leaves gifts in stockings and one big gift. I feel like there will still be enough Christmas left once he knows the truth.

What does your family do to focus on the birth of Jesus during the holiday season? Have you had to address the truth about Santa Clause with any of your children? I need pointers.

14 comments:

  1. Paul and I have had deep discussions about this very thing and guess what, we've decided that honesty is always the best policy. While I do believe in the wonder of childhood and all that, I don't think we have to keep up this massive charade to encourage and facilitate those experiences. My kids will always know that Santa is not real, that the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy are all in good fun, and that leprechauns are creepy. There is nothing wrong with embracing Santa as a wonderful part of the holidays, but our focus will always be on the Savior and our family.

    SO THERE.

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  2. In our house, we talk about Santa in a very happy, open, goofy way. When we read books about him, and my son asks, "Mom, does Santa REALLY come down a chimney??" I have just asked, "What do you think?? I'm not so sure about that, that sounds kind of funny, huh??" and then let him join in the dialogue. I never flat out say that Santa is "real" or not, but I don't feel the need to distinguish if every Dr. Seuss character is real or not, either.

    For my kids to understand, I equate the "realness" of Santa to the realness of Mickey and Goofy at Disneyland---these are actual characters that they see on a weekly basis. They totally get that Mickey is not REAL in the sense of him ACTUALLY being a giant mouse, but he is real in the sense that he is a magical, fun thing, to happily pretend is real---they are totally in on the joke though. When we ride on a rocket ship at Disney, I don't sit down and talk to them about it not actually being a "real" rocket ship.

    Am I making any sense?

    My point is this: I AM SO TOTALLY WITH YOU. I think the literal facts of Santa are quite preposterous. I will not, and do not lie to my children about him; but I think there is magic that can be found in believing in Santa (and other child like fantacies: disneyland, Dr seuss, etc.), as long as my kids are in on the joke, too...

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  3. Uh... this was NOT posted by Chris. This is Becca (Taylor) Pierce. I am on my husbands account. Whoops.

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  4. We keep the magic alive with the whole Santa thing but we do it on a very small scale. Santa is not the main focus of Christmas in our house. He only brings one present per kid (if he left them more than one then they would be taking a present away from another child) and we don't go and visit him to ask him for anything. The kids are free to right him a letter on Christmas eve to thank him for visiting, but that is it. We are Polar Express fans I will say, but I am pretty sure my 7 year old is just playing along at this point. I do know that my 4 yr old is true believer and I think it would crush her completely to know he didn't exist. She also truly believes that the since her name is Aurora that the castle at Disneyland is HER castle and that she must marry someone named Phillip. (It is cute when she is 4 but I am not so sure about when she is older so we will slowly have to break these realities to her, it gets hard to do with her autism) .

    I think if you don't make a big deal out of Santa and keep him more as a back ground character in the whole scheme of Christmas then it is easier to let kids know he is more of a concept of the giving spirit of Christmas than a real person, something that can add fun to the holiday. When my older son figured it out at the age of 6 I just reminded him to keep it to himself just incase others had not. We don't talk about Santa or threaten that he won't come, he is a non issue at Christmas because he is not what Christmas is about in our home. When he does come up I act like it is no big deal and move on quickly because I don't want him to ever become a main focus.

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  5. I wasn't raised to believe in a Santa Claus. When this topic is brought up into conversation and I make that statement, the normal response is,"You poor thing" or "How sad". Really? Hmmmm..... I guess the automatic assumption was that I didn't have a tree with presents underneath and all of the anticipation of waiting to unwrap them. Really? I was raised believing in the real reason we celebrate Christmas but I also was blessed to enjoy all of the other traditions of picking a tree from a farm, decorating the house, baking tons of goodies, caroling, etc. my mom chose not to lie about the whole Santa thing because she remembers being devastated by finding out the truth as a child. We were, however, taught to be respectful of other children who believed. I always was and still am today just in case there are some adults that still believe;)

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  6. I really just...I don't want to do the stupid Santa thing anymore. My 5 year old already two years in a row gives me the.."come on mom, whatever look"...like she can't believe that *I* think she would believe it. Maybe I should talk about Santa more like Chris does and like you do. Or just stop talking about him all together. We will see. The new pictures of your cookbook (on the other blog) look beautiful.

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  7. Wow, your "magic eyes" story had me laughing in the beginning and then feeling heartbroken in the end! Poor little Jack feeling like he was the butt of a joke. I can picture my son being just like Jack and not wanting to feel like he's been duped. Reading this made me really think twice about what route we are going to take at Christmas time as far as the Santa tradition is concerned. When I was a kid I told my mom that I'd finally 'figured it out' about Santa. She thought I was going to say he wasn't real, but instead I said that Santa, the Easter Bunny and God must all be friends! I think her heart almost stopped! She then broke the news to me that the first two weren't real, but God was. That's a hard line to distinguish as a child when you find you've been tricked about some things, but not about others. I think we'll go the honest route with Sawyer and hopefully forego the confusion later on!

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  8. I grew up knowing and believing in the true Chris Krinkle and what he did for the children in his country but the most important focus we learned during Christmas was Jesus Christ. We learned that He was born to save us from our sins and we receive presents to in honor of Him and through the spirit of St. Nicholas. Hopefully this helps. My husband and I have a one year old (in about 13 days) and he'll visit Santa just for the fun but not really to ask for anything and we will be focusing mostly on Jesus and what the true meaning of CHRISTmas meas! Good luck and Merry Christmas early!

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  9. Well, I found out the hard truth when I was 12 and I opened my eyes to see my mom going down the hallway with our gifts. oooo, i was sooo mad. mad that i woke up for no apparent reason and my whole little world crashed down. So, since I still bear the scars and have declared Christmas (as we know it) NOT my favorite holiday, I decided to tell my children that I don't believe in such a thing as Santa. yep, right from the start I have told them this holiday is about Jesus and Jesus alone but that others like the idea of Santa but he's not real. Thats it. I know, so bah humbug, but like you I just couldnt bear the moment when they found out in a conversation we would be destined to have or silently like i did. (side note: i was waiting in a sit on santas lap line telling the kid in front of me santa wasnt real and when i got to the front the man whispered that i shouldnt tell such lies. I almost changed my mind in that instance i was so scared! ha ha)

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  10. Hey Whitney! It's cera! This has been floating around pinterest and thought since Jack was starting to ask questions you might like to see this! I agree with not pretending there is a fat man that creeps into your house when everyone is sleeping on Christmas night. Kinda creepy. For me growing up, Christmas was all about the magic of the holiday season! I think we will explain to Paisley when she's old enough that Santa isn't really a person, but more of a feeling. Good luck!
    http://www.cozi.com/live-simply/truth-about-santa

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  11. Whatever you do, be sure he understands the importance of not telling other children the truth. Most of the kids his age still believe in the magic of Santa and many parents want to keep it that way. Santa is the "spirit" of the season--the whole gift-giving and love thing. I'd hate for my child to hear it in a different form from another child. It's up to me to tell my child when he's ready (just like you've made that choice to tell Jack now). Good luck!

    --Angee :)

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  12. Good for you. I believed in Santa for far too long; for some reason my Mother was intent on keeping the lie alive for as long as possible. I've told Kim that if she wants to play Santa she can and I won't say anything, but I can't lie to my kids if they ask.

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  13. We are believers at our house. I love the book "I Believe in Santa Claus" at Deseret Book. I think it does a good job of explaining how the symbols of Santa remind us of Jesus, and how believing can add rather than detract from our Christmas season.

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