Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

...or is he??

In the past (and certainly growing up), I loved the big man in the red suit. But now that I am a parent, I am really starting to see Santa Clause in a different light. You see, for the life of me, I can not figure out what he has to do with Christmas--with the birth of our Lord and Savior. It is not really Santa's gft giving that is the concern for me, as gift giving is an appropriate birthday gesture, and we are celebrating a birthday--the Lord's birthday, I know, but I can't think of a better reason than that to celebrate...and exchanging presents is an acceptable part of that (don't you think so?).

BUT, you will have to explain to me where the notion of a jolly, cherub looking, totally commercialized old man flying through the night sky led by a team of reindeer and miraculously slinking down the chimney of every little boy and girl's house to deliver mounds of gifts without ever mentioning the name of Jesus (or his birthday) came from...

Yeah, I couldn't do it either (...and the case for the Easter Bunny is even worse!).

Therein lies my dilemma: How do I welcome Santa Clause as a part of our family's Christmas tradition when I think he is a load of bull?? (A fun load of bull, albeit).

He's totally watching me...

(I realize there is a vague connection between Santa Clause and Saint Nicholas that has been severaly distorted over the years, but Saint Nicholas has his very own feast day on December 6th, which seems to be a more fitting day to honor him).

Thankfully, I have at least another before Augustine will know the difference either way, but for now I feel inclined to just do away with Santa all together...

. . . i s t h a t c r u e l ?

I admit, it seems completely counter-cultural (and almost mean) to squash the "magic" of Christmas right from the get go...but in this day and age, our culture's attitude toward Christmas could use a little countering, and I do hope Augustine will find the "magic" of Christmas in the story of Jesus' birth.

I can hear you laughing.

Ok, so maybe that is a lot to expect from a young child surrounded by images of Santa, reindeer, and elves every which way he looks...but I at least want to give him a half chance at focusing on Jesus, even if his favorite part of the day is







At least he will know the day is about Jesus' birthday...and not about a manipulative, three month bribing saga between him and a chubby, magical man in a red suit. Right?? (I am sure I will be eating my words about two years from now when all I want to do is threaten little Augustine that Santa won't come if he is not a good little boy...).

And yes (before you think I am the most mean Mom of all), Augustine will receive gifts on Christmas either way. As I mentioned earlier, I think Jesus' birthday is a fine time to exercise generosity and charity, as we present those we love (and perhaps a few we don't even know) with some special gifts. Though some of my extended family members do wait until Epiphany on January 6th to exchange gifts, as that is when the Wise Men came bearing gifts for Jesus. Such a practice would not be practical for us at this time, given that we don't live close enough to family to see them on January 6th, but it's not such a shabby idea.

BUT I don't plan on making it a secret that none of his gifts--whether wrapped under the tree, left unwrapped near the mantle on Christmas Eve (like Santa did at my house growing up...and I LOVED it), or hidden in his stocking--are from Santa. Why can't they just be from Luke and myself? Please tell me I am not heartless.

If we really do decide to give Santa the boot, we will not raise a home wrecker who goes around the kindergarten class telling all the children that they are silly and illogical for believing in Santa, but neither will we spend the entire fall convincing Augustine that there is an elf around every corner watching him and reporting back to Santa about his behavior.

Ahhhhh, thank you for listening to my cathartic ramblings (really, this is getting a lot off my chest)...

So, now I need to know what you all think:

What are your Christmas gift-giving traditions? What meaning do they hold for you? For those who are raising Santa lovers, is it just the most awesome thing ever to see their faces on Christmas morning? Would they be totally let down if then knew the gifts were from you (be honest with me)? How do you keep the true meaning of Christmas alive? Am I worrying for nothing--is Santa harmless?? Help! I only have a few more years to get this all figured out :)

P.S. I am not a Scrooge. Christmas is my favorite holiday, I listen to Christmas music as soon as socially acceptable, and my all-time favorite movie is Elf. In all honesty, there is great chance that at this time next year, I will be blogging about taking Augustine to the mall to sit on Santa's lap...


  1. Wow, this is a lot to take in. Lol, you make me laugh and have given me a lot to think about. We'll have plenty of time to talk about it very soon IN PERSON!...:)

  2. Ah, I'm just reading this right now after the hub bub of the holidays. Let me say that Cody and I are on exactly the same page as you guys about Christmas in the following ways:
    a. we do not want to lie to our kids, and Santa is not real.
    b. We want our kids to know the great presents under the tree are from their hard working parents! (is that so wrong?)
    c. We want to *try* to curb the materialism of Christmas and focus on Jesus as the reason for the season,
    d. We don't want to be Santa-nazis and ruin the fun for other little guys, and
    d. we are immensely unsure of ourselves in trying to take on the huge endeavor of celebrating Christmas w/out Santa, especially in an extended family that really really likes Santa. I even told one of cody's sister not to get J the Polar Express b/c it was all about Santa and therefore we *probably* wouldn't read it. Then I felt really bad.

    I'm so glad we will have you guys to run this by again in about 11 months! I think there is a balance to find, and I think it might take a few years of trial and error to find it. Lets collaborate about what works!

  3. I know a lot of parents struggled with this. My husband and I do Santa still and enjoy it as part of the "magic" of the holiday season. There is a book called Santa's Favorite Story that does a good job of moving the focus back to the true meaning of Christmas. Otherwise we look at it as Santa's generosity and giving in celebration
    of Jesus' birth.

  4. Just now reading this and it's the perfect time of year to think about what we're really presenting at Christmas. Our family really makes a big deal of Christmas being all about the birth of Jesus. To the point that Santa is considered just like a decoration, the Christmas tree for example. Our youngest who is 5 has never been taught that Santa is real, she knows who her gifts are from and appreciates the work and thought that goes into picking out what she gets. We've also scaled down on the amount of gifts we hand out, both due to necessity and because I feel that if even baby Jesus had only 3 gifts, we shouldn't be excessive in this way. We've taught her that it is up to other parent's what they want to teach their kids about Santa and that it really isn't our business if they choose to not tell their kids the truth. Another part of the whole Santa thing is that, in this day and age sadly, I don't want my child to ever think that some stranger (cute though he may be and even with gifts) coming into our home while we are sleeping is okay. This has carried over to the Easter Bunny and even the tooth fairy. I let her know that I will play tooth fairy and she does get a few quarters when she looses a tooth but I don't want her ever to feel comfortable with the idea that someone she has never seen before is going to come into her room while she is asleep.