I grew up believing in Santa Claus. Hook, line, and sinker, I believed in all of it. From the elves and the North Pole, the milk and cookies left out on Christmas Eve, to the note he left for me to find in the morning, and of course all of the presents, he was THE single biggest part of Christmas for me. The part about it being Jesus’ birthday was kind of an afterthought.
Then I grew older and learned the truth. No, he didn’t exist, but I still cherished the magical feeling the belief in Santa brought to all those Christmases. I can’t imagine my childhood without Santa! It’s a tradition I never considered NOT carrying on with my kids.
I’ll admit that I’m not really feeling Christmas this year. Santa and all his cohorts with their gifts are making me feel overwhelmed. I look around my children’s playroom (and their bedrooms, and my living room, and under the couches, and in closets, and under my feet) and can see clearly that they have too much STUFF. They’re completely spoiled.
They have no idea what it is to want for anything, let alone that other people struggle to have even the most basic of their needs met. My kids will not only wake up in a warm bed Christmas morning and have a filling breakfast while wearing brand new PJs, they’ll also have a ridiculous number of gifts to open from Tate and I, from grandparents, aunts and uncles, and because he’s a part of our tradition, there will be gifts from Santa. We are so incredibly blessed that this is the case, that we can provide their basic needs and much, MUCH more. But the part of this that isn’t sitting well with me is that they EXPECT these gifts and in their innocent, age-appropriate way, they feel ENTITLED to these gifts.
Santa really is just a metaphor for “On Christmas, we get TOO MANY PRESENTS,” to the extent that Christmas seems like it’s just about gifts and that’s it. And WE DID THIS, my husband and I. We are the ones who have allowed Christmas to get out of control and haven’t showed them that Christmas is about giving and the celebration of Jesus’ birth. I get that Carson and Ella are just little kids and we have just wanted to fill them with magic and wonder, but I feel we’ve done a huge disservice to them by showering them with more STUFF and by perpetuating the myth of Santa. Last year in an effort to put a limit on MORE! STUFF!, my husband and I decided that Santa would only be bringing one gift, he and I would give them two more for a total of three. The thought process behind this idea was that Jesus got three gifts, so that’s what they would get, too.
But that doesn’t include the truckloads of gifts that will arrive from extended family. Which? I don’t want to deprive our family from the joy of giving either.
Then there’s this whole idea of Santa. I’m mean, I simply can’t imagine Christmas without Santa, but I also feel like the whole idea of Santa is like an out of control car that we can’t jump off of. It’s too late now to take Santa out of Christmas, and really, that’s not what I want at all. In my heart, though, I feel really conflicted. I’m trying to get my children to love and believe in Jesus, but here in a few years they’ll find out that Santa isn’t real, but oh, that other guy, Jesus? The one you can’t see either? Well, HE is real. Yes, I know I lied about Santa, but I’m not lying about Jesus. You should just trust me on this. Really??
I’m struggling with how to make Christmas magical for my children without giving up Santa, but also stressing the Jesus part. (Or even if I were not Christian, I’d still want it to be more than just about STUFF, you know?) What does the middle ground look like where Santa visits and Jesus is front and center and the kids get a few gifts and they APPRECIATE each one? How do we jump off the runaway car?