Christmas Culture

Christmas Culture

Here’s the deal with Santa: He doesn’t exist. At least not for our child/future children. We came to an agreement last year that we would not perpetuate that particular myth in our home and we still feel pretty good about that decision. We have come up with numerous ideas for traditions that we will implement in place of the Jolly Old Elf and we are hopeful that our children will still feel the magic of Christmas without the belief in a magical visitation from Santa Claus.

But here’s the other deal: We don’t have any idea what the consequences of that decision will be. Will the child(ren) feel that they are missing out on something because Santa visits all of their friends? Will they spoil it for the other children by telling them the “truth” about Santa? Will the traditions we have help them to feel the “magic” of Christmas even if they don’t get a magical visit on midnight Christmas Eve? These are somethings I am starting to think about as Simon has grown into a little boy. This year it doesn’t matter so much — all he thinks about right now are lights and babies — but next year it might.
Right now our plan is to focus on the giving and on Christ. We plan to do a lot of homemade gifts so that the kids are focused on making and doing things for others and have less time to think about what they are going to get. We plan to keep up with our CookieFest tradtion (which was kind of curtailed this year for various reasons and ended up producing less than 200 cookies — pathetic, I know) and on learning about other cultures during the Christmas season, which was a tradition in both of our families growing up. We are thinking about making a box or some sort of container in which the kids can put ideas about a “gift” they could give to Christ for his birthday or things that they noticed about others that were Christ-like. And when they are older we’ll probably have a family Christmas project — doing a Secret Santa or 12 Days of Christmas for a neighbor, something like that. And we’ll keep our fingers crossed that the magic really is in the giving of Christmas, because I wouldn’t want my kids to miss out on that.

16 thoughts on “Christmas Culture

  1. I still believe in Santa. The spirit of giving, that is. I understand the wanting to stay away from all the commercial stuff…but there really is something special about Santa – if you spin it right. For me, it is a great lesson to learn in believe in something that you can’t see. But that’s just me! :) Silly me – at 13 I was still defending Santa! Good luck!

    Hmm…I suppose you could ask your Jewish or Jehovah’s Witness friends how they felt being surrounded by Santa “believers” and see how they felt growing up without Santa visits.

  2. We feel the same way you do. We don’t talk about Santa to Clark (though I did do a gluing activity that was a Santa head–but he was clueless as to whom it was) and I don’t feel like he gives a hoot. Like you said, there are a lot of other things about Christmastime that can get us into the Spirit…and I don’t feel like Santa is really that important. I don’t ever plan on taking my kids to stand in an hour long line in the mall to sit on his lap or write letters to him. I’m sure that eventually our kids will hear about Santa from friends (or see the ridiculous amounts of decorations in stores) and will ask about him, and we’ll answer honestly. Adrian and I can’t remember ever believing in Santa and neither of us are traumatized by it. I do remember, though, my little brother being the spoiler to a neighbor kid when he was like 5. Oops. But I’m sure that kid is fine. :)

  3. We were a non-Santa household growing up as well. I didn’t know who he was until Kindergarten when I was censured for not coloring him the “right” colors. I think it just gave me a superiority complex being the only one who knew the Santa thing was a hoax. I certainly never felt like I was missing out on anything as I knew nobody else was being visited by a magic elf either. For me the magical feeling of Christmas comes from singing carols about our Savior, making or picking out thoughtful gifts for our loved ones, taking treats to our neighbors, and remembering that story so full of wonder and awe found in the Bible.

    Neils, however, is totally into that commercial kind of thing and has asked that we pretend he’s real at our house. We don’t play it up or encourage it but we do tolerate it. Especially since I know he really does know it’s just a game. There’s a book I’d really like to get called “The Real Santa Claus” full of stories about Saint Nicholas, who was a wonderful Christ-like person. I’d much rather celebrate what was admirable about his life if we must include that tradition.

    For me, if there is magic in Believing, let it be in something we can’t see but is real and true.

  4. I also don’t remember believing in santa, though I don’t remember much from my childhood to be honest. I do, however, remember enjoying the stories of St. Nicholas and old tales of Santa’s more philanthropic past. I think he definitely added to the magic of my childhood.

    I am worried that things are just different now. I feel that santa has been forcefully pulled from the religious and true aspects of Christmas by political correct schools, the media, and profit seeking companies. This was a problem during our childhood as well, but I feel it is far worse now. Bad enough to warrant avoiding the whole affair, possibly.

    I don’t know. We don’t know. Please keep your thoughts and comments coming.

  5. It is interesting to me as well. I think it’s so strange that many people subject their child to sitting on Santa’s lap when they are scared of him. That is precisely what made me decide that I wasn’t interested in convincing my children that Santa was real just to have them find out later that he isn’t.

    Interestingly enough, we told Ryan last year that Santa wasn’t alive anymore, but that we like to pretend that he comes to give gifts. Kids like to make believe so I figured it was a good enough explanation to not ruin the magic for the kids who DO believe in Santa. He was absolutely fine about it.

    This year, he has become a believer. Not because of me though. I even tried again to explain gingerly that we pretend about Santa. I could tell it made him uncomfortable and he didn’t like the idea this year. I dropped the idea because I didn’t want to squash any magic for him, but it’s interesting because we didn’t ever have to bring Santa up. And the only reason why we have a picture of my kids with Santa each year, is because he comes to our ward party. I am not sure if we’re going to pretend that Santa is real or not. But for now, my kids seem to want to play the game.

  6. I feel that a belief in Santa is important. It teaches small children to believe in someone who is good and kind, but who they can’t see. To me Santa Clause helps remind us (and little children) of Christ.

    There are so many things I want to write in this comment that I’m just going to make a blogpost on my blog. So you don’t have a novel from me.
    Let me know what you think.

  7. this book: I believe in Santa Claus by Diane Adamson, is a great explanation of why we should believe in Santa Clause

  8. I don’t really remember actually believing in Santa. I think this may be because I was one of the younger kids in the family and the secret was spoiled at a young age. I still felt the magic of Christmas.

  9. i did believe in santa claus growing up, but my parents didn’t make a huge deal about it. although i eventually grew out of that belief, i still feel that it was a special part of my childhood christmases.

    when my father was bishop we always had other members of the ward in mind, doing secret santas, etc. i dunno, though…i think any way you look at christmas – it’s an exciting and glorious time for anyone who is willing to feel of it’s spirit – no matter what you believe.

  10. I think the key is to not make a big deal out of it, whether you tell them about Santa or not. Also, the kid’s going to hear about him one way or another. Personally, I’d rather teach my kids about Santa, emphasizing the best aspects, than let the kids’ classmates and TV teach them what Santa’s about.

  11. Thanks for the thoughts and insights. We really appreciate the things that you’ve all brought up. It will be interesting to see how things go in the next couple of year. I definitely think that teaching our kids about Santa is a given; he’s so pervasive in the culture that there’s no getting around it and it would be foolish to think that we could. I like what Aye Spy said about not making it a big deal about it. I have read some things recently about people telling their kids that when they give to someone else anonymously, they are a Santa Claus. I think that is an interesting idea, and I still really like the idea of learning about St. Nicholas as a person and his Christ-like traits. We’ll see how it goes!

  12. I hope you guys weren’t offended by my comment/blogpost in anyway.

    I was expressing why I feel differently about the subject, however I think it’s great that you have a different opinion. It’s okay for us to disagree of course!

    I like how guys have decided how you want to celebrate Christmas. It is a good reminder to be more Christ-centered during Christmas time.

    Merry Christmas!

  13. Melissa,

    Of course we aren’t offended. We always love your comments. Please keep them coming.

    Merry Christmas to all.

  14. Mom never really did the Santa thing. Dad told me the “big secret” on the Christmas Day that I questioned what he and Mom had given me (we were writing thank you notes) and he was mad that I was being seemingly ungrateful (I was 8).
    We let our kids believe — they also believe in the Happy Halloween Witch and the Easter Bunny.
    While we do not discourage the belief in the imaginary, we severely limit the influence. For instance, Santa only gives one small gift to each child. The kids have also seen Daddy dress up as Santa enough times and work charitable events many times so that the illusion is really thin. The Easter Bunny leaves candy and eggs on Saturday so as not to be confused with the sacred part of Easter. The Happy Halloween Witch is a charitable effort — the kids leave their candy/loot on the door step on Halloween night so that she can give it to other children.
    Anyway, whimsy and imaginary beings have their place — but parents are responsible for their home and the things they teach their children.
    Simon is a smart and precocious kid and Santa, Channukah Joe, the Easter Bunny and all the rest are moot — he know his parents love him.
    Wow, that is a serious epistle.

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