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Monday Morning Parenting: When You Can't Agree About Holiday Traditions

Monday, December 13, 2010

This really ought be a Flashback Friday post because it dates back to this little gem I wrote last year about my distaste for the commercial Christmas culture and its pop star Santa Claus.

At the beginning of this holiday season my feelings hadn't budged. I held firm to my principle that Marlie was going to learn the true meaning of Christmas...Jesus Christ, faith, hope, charity. Santa was going to be, at best, a footnote.

I thought Damon and I were on the same page, especially when he declared that he would never want to take Marlie to the mall to sit on some stranger's lap. Then he flipped the script. We were on our way home from a party a couple of weeks ago when the Santa subject came up.

I said something like: boy am I glad we are not going to tell Marlie that Santa brings her presents for Christmas.

His (totally unexpected) reply was: I don't agree with that. I think believing in Santa is part of the joy and wonder of being a little kid.

I was completely blindsided. I thought we were in agreement about the Santa issue. Needless to say, we have been fighting debating about it ever since. I even proposed a compromise---we tell her about Santa as a bedtime story and we make it clear that he is a fictional character. But nooo, he wants the whole hog (except for actually taking her to see Santa, which makes no sense to me. If you are going to buy into the whole Santa hoopla don't you have to go all the way?).

So, were are at a standstill. Each side has dug in his/her heels and luckily there is no rush to resolve this disagreement since Marlie is still blissfully unaware of Christmas. I know our own childhood experiences fuel this argument. I didn't grow up believing in Santa, but he did. I see his point of view though, especially after watching the last episode of GLEE featuring a 16-year-old cheerleader who never stopped believing in Santa. Then I see Internet ads like these and I can imagine the excitement a child feels knowing that Santa is coming to town:

I might be softening my stance a little, but only a teeny bit. I say let Marlie decide. When she asks about Christmas, we drop the Santa bait and see if she swallows it hook, line and sinker. If Marlie wants to believe in Santa, I won't stand in her way. I can co-exist with Santa on two conditions:
  1. We make Jesus and doing charitable works the center of how we celebrate Christmas.
  2. Marlie understands that Santa brings one special gift and that her family worked hard and put a lot of thought into buying the bulk of her presents.
See how I'm not a total Grinch?!


Kim @ What's That Smell? said...

I remember commenting on your post last year about this issue.

Clearly, we do the whole Santa thing. My daughter doesn't even know that Santa brings presents and she is IN LOVE WITH HIM. He's happy and jolly and something tangible we can use to make sure the "magic" is appreciated and it's then our job to direct the attention to Jesus.

I actually just got a book that is written as fiction around the history of Santa - the history part is supposed to be true. I admit that I don't know what/how/where he came about and I'd like us all to learn.

I think compromise is key!

Anonymous said...

Compromise its awesome and I think ur rules are great. Mine are pretty much the same. She'll know both sides. I just don't want my child to be the one to ruin santa for all the other kids if she doesn't believe and they do. So she can believe in it for a few years and also Santa will give 1 gift! Mommy and co will give all the rest. Santa will not steal all the christmas shine in my house! I refuse.

Betty Manousos said...

You're such a great mum, Teresha.
Marlie is so lucky to have a mum like you and you are so lucky to have her as your daughter.
What a great and meaningful post, my dear friend!

Hope you're feeling better by now.

Have a nice day!
B xx

Mrs. K said...

What a thoughtful post. I guess I've never thought about this before. Like you I did not grow up with the whole Santa thing but I honestly don't think it causes any harm. I think. LOL. I'm curious about how my husband stands on this--he grew up with the whole Santa thing but I think he would agree totally with you.

Alexia said...

Totally agree with your stance. We don't subscribe to any particular religion though Michael and I were both raised Catholic, but we feel that understanding that Christmas is the celebration of Jesus' birth is the most important. I'm pretty vague on Santa. I like the idea of the benevolent jolly old Saint that gives and gives and gives to all the nice children in the world, but he doesn't bring all the presents. Your rules are totally fair and I think we'll borrow them if you don't mind ; )

P.S. I'm very confused by the joy and wonder of being a kid and yet NOT going to go see Santa. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense...lol

jmt said...

I really like Kim's answer. :) I think we get so much "real" shoved down our throats now adays, and that children have to deal with so much "this is how life is", a little fantasy and "magic" of the Santa theory isn't so bad. I have actually been lamenting this season that I haven't done enough to bring that magic to my kids. They haven't ever been gung-ho about Santa or gotten really exited at the thought of the special'ness' he and his reindeer bring. It makes our house a little less cheery than I recall my home being when I grew up.

I'm working on changing that this year. It'll only last a bit longer for TO, and I'm sad for that.

septembermom said...

I find that my kids figure out the whole Santa thing around 7 or 8. My daughter (she's 5) is still in love with the idea of Santa. It's sweet and I don't think it hurts them when they are little. I still want to believe in Santa too!

Anonymous said...

I think that those are great compromises!

It's important to me to keep Christ the center of Christmas for our daughter as well. She's only 16 months right now, so she's mostly interested in pulling ornaments off of the tree. However, I am also a HUGE Santa person. I love Santa and everything about him. We were Santa-believers as children and I have to say that it made my childhood so magical :) My parents didn't do anything special to connect Santa to Jesus but we still grew up focused on his birth and really loved all of the Christmas plays and songs at church.

I plan on using Santa to keep the focus on Jesus as well. For one thing we plan on only giving the kids 3 gifts (just like Jesus got). Haven't decided yet whether they'll all be from Santa or just one, we'll see. I really hate the greed aspect of Santa more than anything, so in that way I don't want presents themselves to be a big deal.
I have a lovely figurine of Santa kneeling at the manger and a story book that goes along with it about the real Saint Nicholas.
When Santa writes a letter to the kids he'll always mention Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas and encourage them to be charitable.

Those are just a few of the things that I've thought of. I'm anxious for our daughter to be old enough for all of it.

I wanted to stop by and thank you for commenting on my blog and supporting me during my SITS day! I appreciate it!

Maureensk said...

That's a toughy. My husband was raised Jewish, though his grandmother celebrated Christmas, and always gave him and his sister lots of gifts for X-mas (his parents did not give him any gifts for much of anything). I learned the truth at age 4 because I asked too many probing questions about Santa (my mother's choice of words). My husband absolutely abhors dishonesty, so I agreed early on not to lie about Santa. So we treat him like a story, but if the kids ask a lot of questions, I never lie. Quite frankly, once they ask any questions, the gig is up, unless you are willing to lie. So all of my kids have learned the truth around age 4 or 5.

TheVegan said...

Personally I'm not planning on telling my children that there is a Santa(or Easter Bunny,tooth fairy,etc..) because I wish MY parents hadn't told me that. Once I found out they didn't really exist I just felt like I had been lied to for my whole life.(And that I was ridiculously ignorant to have actually believed it in the first place.lol) Maybe other kids didn't think it was a big deal,and I know it was done for fun,but still..

outdoorchica said...

One thing a friend´s family does is they don´t do Santa on Christmas, but rather, they celebrate St. Nicholas day and focus on the story of a generous clergyman giving poor children toys. The kids in the family receive one or two small presents from "St. Nick" on December 6th, and that´s the end of the "Santa" bit. This helps being back the faith and charity points you want to drive home, and saves Jesus for Christmas. Hope that´s helpful! I just found your blog and it looks great! :)

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