My Santa-Less Christmas
By Michelle Alfaro
On a past post, I mentioned how my brothers totally ruined the whole Santa myth for me when I was very young and my Mom told me the truth when I asked her about it. This event is seared into my memory because I was just so shocked that everyone talked about Santa so much and he wasn’t even real.
From there, I had to grapple with the idea of what Christmas was about. My conclusion was likely similar to any other kids’: Christmas was about presents and surprises and gross amounts of candy. Did the source of those things really matter, as long as they kept on coming? Of course further, and deeper realization about what Christmas was truly about didn’t come until I was much older.
Since that fateful day, Santa just hasn’t ever been a big deal for me. We never did the cute “elf-on-the-shelf” tradition, nor were hardly ANY of our presents signed from Santa. (My mom always said she wanted the credit for the good presents!) And so when I had children myself, I naturally gravitated toward this same method of celebrating Christmas. I wanted to talk about the birth of the Christ child A LOT, and Santa not at all. But, there was one thing I hadn’t taken into account: my husband’s love of Santa.
He grew up very differently than I did. His family loved the idea of Santa (or, Papa Noel as they say in Spanish). He wrote letters to Santa, he dreamed about Santa. Santa was a huge part of his fond memories of Christmases past And, despite my awkward protests, he brought up the Santa idea with our kids (“Be good, or Santa won’t bring you any presents.”), and my children quickly and easily grasped the idea. And then, it felt like there was nothing I could do to stem the tide of Santa worship, because Santa was EVERYWHERE they went, including church.
Now, I’m not saying the whole Santa thing is bad! Don’t throw me to the wolves just yet! Santa is fine if he makes you happy, and whimsical, and toasty on a cold winter’s night. But for me, I’m just not feeling it. So, how was I going to combat Santa without ruffling any matrimonial feathers? Well, I have to say, I’m still in that fight. My children both still think Santa is real, and they bring him up a lot. But, I have finally come up with a game plan this year:
- When questions about Santa invariably come up, my answers will be vague and not spark much imagination. For example, “Mommy, does Santa live in the North Pole?” Answer: “That’s what they say. I bet it’s cold in the North Pole.” (At which point, my husband will roll his eyes.)
- Whenever Santa is mentioned, I plan to gently steer the conversation away from him to hopefully land on the true meaning of Christmas. For example, “Mommy, I hope Santa brings me LOTS of presents!” Answer: “Maybe we can think about helping another person right now who needs it, just like Jesus did. What do you think we can do?”
- Now, this is the hard part: once they invariably ask me about Santa’s existence, I’m going to tell them the truth. I know! Harsh! Here’s how I’m hoping (cross your fingers!) it will go: “Mommy, is Santa real?” Answer, given on their level with eye contact: “No baby. Santa is just for fun. But, do you know who was real? Jesus! Do you have any questions about him?” Then, hopefully they will be thinking about questions, rather than how devastated they feel. That’s the plan anyway. (For now.)
It’s not the BEST plan, and I still haven’t perfected the whole political answer yet. But this is what I’m going with. Have any of you had similar experiences? Do you have any tricks for breaking the delicate truth? Tell us about it in the comments!