So it's official: my 8-year-old doesn't believe Santa is real. sniff sniff
We do the Santa thing in our household, but don't go crazy or anything; one year of bad photos with Santa was enough for us and we haven't been back since. We do put up a tree, with an impressive, ever-growing collection of my homemade ornaments (help me, I can't stop) and some ornaments that actually have religious meaning (wait, is that possible?!). We're Christians, but understand full well the murky traditions that putting up a tree and telling our kids about Santa is all about, yet I don't begrudge any Christian I know who doesn't do those things.
I was told that Santa was "real" and never felt traumatized at that exact moment that I discovered he was just a tale that my family, everyone else's family and just about the entire commercial world had 'invented.' In fact, I don't even remember the exact moment when I stopped believing in him. I never felt lied to; that society had failed to protect me and that my parents had warped me forever. (Okay, I'm being a bit facetious here, but some of the things I read lately have sounded a bit like this).
I know a few church families who don't do the Santa thing, and kind of find it a bit sad. It always saddens me a little bit to hear a young whippersnapper who flatly states, "Santa isn't real" and moves on. Oh well, to each his own. Surprisingly, the Christian kids we know who don't believe in him have never taken my kids aside (well, until now, but that's okay) and told them, "Hey, you know what? Santa's fake! It's all your parents!" Their mother has nicely told them that some kids do believe it, and some don't. Thank you.
Her parents, interestingly enough, as Christians also told her and her brothers that Santa wasn't real, based on one event: another kid in church was also starting to question the existence of God because he'd found out Santa wasn't real. That one event (before they even had children, I think) turned them off from Santa forever and they assumed their kids just might question God too, if they were told Santa was a lie. Whatever. I'm not into taking it that far; besides, we talk about God all year long, not just a few weeks before Christmas.
A few weeks ago at my son's birthday party he and one of the above-mentioned church kids were talking in the other room, within earshot of his sister (who is five). I overheard bits and pieces of the conversation and asked him to repeat for me, privately, what would make your sister cry? He came over to me and said, "Oh, if Santa wasn't real. I said it would make her upset and she would cry." (She'd already been told by an older kid on the bus that Santa was a fake, and when she asked me about it, I neither confirmed nor denied; I think she doesn't want to believe that he isn't real. Fine with me.) I was impressed, however, how the boys were calmly discussing it as if it was the most obvious thing in the world: no tears, no shrieks, no running up to me and wailing, "How could you? How could you tell me that Santa was real when he really isn't?!" I was also very impressed that he wouldn't tell his sister, and would consider how upset she'd be if she knew The Truth.
I was wrapping presents the other night in my basement lair and as I saw two athletic-socked feet coming down the stairs, I started yelling. It was the only thing I could think to do at the time, trying to head him off before he saw everything laid out in plain sight. Of course he asked, "What are you doing, mom?" "NOTHING!" I cried, and told him to go back upstairs. "Oh," he said casually, "are you wrapping presents for me?"
What? That was it? Well then.
In years' past I have gone to great lengths while wrapping gifts to make the handwriting, even the color ink, on each tag from Santa look different than mine; all Santa's gifts were wrapped in the same paper. Not this year!
In a strange juxtaposition, my son still talks about Santa as if he does believe, which I find interesting and am paying attention to. Is it a force of habit? Is he doing it for the benefit of his sister? Or does part of him not really want to believe that Santa doesn't exist?
As a kid, I can remember gifts from my dad - some were from daddy and others were from "Santa." I knew the real truth by then, but it was still fun. Every year, I still click on the Norad Santa Tracker with anticipation, if not for my kids, myself - it's fun! For me, it's a lot of things: heavy snow falling outside our window, while we're tucked safely inside; Mannheim Steamroller playing, the tree lit and the candle lights shining in the window, a Salvation Army tuba player outside of Walmart. The spirit of it has stuck with me, even though I'm almost 40, and in some way I still "believe."
Do you "do" Santa? If your kids found out he wasn't real, were they upset?
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