The Wonder of Santa Lies

Yep, I’m one of those deluded and evil parents who lies to her children. I know it’s not the modern way, but then I’ve rarely taken the modern route. My kids believe in the tooth fairy – and fairies in general – the Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus. We even have an Elf on the Shelf (albeit the sweet plush one, not the creepy plastic-faced one).

In my home, we celebrate St. Nikolaus Tag, just like I did as a child. I grew up without Santa Claus, actually. It was the Christkind who came to my house on Christmas Eve to help my parents trim the tree and leave gifts under it as we waited, almost patiently, at the top of the stairs. Of course, in my 1st Generation way, I took Christkind literally and pictured a baby Jesus (or Christ Child) toddling about, placing a wrapped treat under the tree. That’s not at all what the Christkind is.

I love all things magical and fantastical. Books like The Wizard of Earthsea, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and A Wrinkle in Time were my go-to refuges as a loner in 3rd grade and up. I even poured out my heart and told my secrets to my stuffed animals long after it would have been considered “appropriate” to do so. Thankfully, I went away to college, and I left those inanimate friends behind. Long(er) story short, I want my children to feel that immersion in the fantastical too. And, for now, they do.

letter to santa

Exhibit A

I have to say, a letter to Santa that just shows appreciation for an orange, some Gelt, and a matchbox car – without asking for a gift? Priceless. All this kiddo wants is to know how Santa got to his house for St. Nikolaus Day — since there wasn’t any snow.  To me, that’s part of the wonder. And for now, that’s what they have.

Dear Santa Claus…I can’t believe you gave me something when I thought I was a naughty boy. I appreciated you doing what you did! I have a question for you…How do you get to our house on St. Nikolaus Day? (PS: I hope you have a Merry Christmas.)

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Adjusting to the car culture, dealing with leaving a career I love, and spouting off along the way.
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25 Responses to The Wonder of Santa Lies

  1. anna says:

    I still believe in fairies, too. And I am fascinated, in an outsiders way, by the conversations about telling/not telling kids about Santa.

    • We rationalize so much when we explain, share, story-tell to our children. I never had Santa on xmas. And I remember asking about why he came to our neighbors, and my parents just said that everyone has different traditions, and ours wasn’t about Santa. Matter-of-fact, no defensiveness, and it didn’t mitigate or elevate one tradition compared to another. BaDaBing!

  2. I am closing in on 31 and I still believe in fairies, so my future kids are in for a wild ride…
    I enjoyed reading this. :)

  3. Kianwi says:

    Oh my gosh, that note is the cutest thing! I love those first two sentences in his note so much!! Adorable.

    I am always sad when parents say they aren’t doing Santa because they don’t want to lie to their kids. Yeah, I totally remember being furious with my parents that they ‘lied’ to me about the wonder of a magical being delivering presents to my house…Um, not at all!! Silly adult logic.

    • I think some people may have memories of being let down or disappointed or really angry. But for me, it’s worth the trade off. And in our home it’s also totally removed from religion — which may also influence reaction in the end. We’re all about the “spirit of kindness and giving” anyway. We’ll find out eventually!

  4. Rachel J says:

    I actually do remember feeling resentful and angry at my parents when they finally told me. I remember walking around our backyard broodily, kicking the grass and feeling so “lied to”. I wonder if at least part of that was a timing issue. I also remember in the time before they told me asking my parents questions about santa or toothfairy or whoever being real or not and them answering with something like, “They’re real if you choose them to be…” or something like that. And I have this memory of staring at them and thinking the child version of, “What the hell are you saying to me?? I asked a straightforward question and I’d appreciate a straightforward answer!”

    I guess I just wonder if my angst could have been prevented if I’d been told earlier? What I’ve come to in my own parenting choices is that if my kid is old enough to be asking, “Is that real or pretend?” then they’re ready to know that santa is the embodiment of generosity and love, but that the part about a big fat man in red clothes sneaking into our house to leave presents is pretend.

    The part I found most surprising is that it hasn’t seemed to damper the magic of the season for my six year old, she LOVES to pretend, so it seems to still be fun as can be for her.

    • I like the idea of the “embodiment of generosity and love” and that’s kind of where we’re at…with tactile embodiment at this time. I think that when my kids find out they’ll be the same way…they love pretend play!

  5. Pingback: Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies | that cynking feeling

  6. Rachel says:

    I don’t have kids yet, but I think lying to children is one of the best perks of parenthood. My dad always made things up (“bread crust tastes just like bubblegum,”) and now I take most things with a grain of salt–he taught me not to believe everything I hear just because a grown up says it!

  7. zoe says:

    omg I love that letter…. I remember lying to my kid… when he found out though it was an ugly day… and I quote! “YOU LIED!? YOU LIED!”

  8. J. Milburn says:

    We haven’t told our children yet either. When my wife put our presents under the tree (the non-Santa ones) he thought Santa had already been there and that it was Christmas :) I’m wondering who will tell him there is no Santa Claus first: his older brother or some other kids in his school. Here’s hoping for a few more years at least! Great post and that letter was adorable!

  9. That letter is priceless – testifying that you’re obviously doing something right! :)

  10. Rob says:

    I love the card to Santa. My niece’s son just wrote Santa to ask if he has been naughty or nice this year. Yes, we believe in Santa. (I think it was Mr. Rogers who said we shouldn’t lie to our children about Santa. I know some churches don’t like Santa either.)

    • I’ll have to look up that Mr. Rogers fact. I do love him so, but I love Fakery (capital F) more. And I personally didn’t have any negative reaction when I found out the Christkind wasn’t really in our house…so I’m hoping that continues in the next generation.

  11. Stacie says:

    What an adorable card! My oldest announced to me that Santa wasn’t real when he was 5. He wasn’t bothered and he still gets a Santa gift at 17. My youngest is almost 10. I’m 99% sure he knows but he’s pretending, maybe bc he’s afraid the gifts will stop? Ah greed…

  12. Rachel says:

    My friend wrote this and it made me think of you.

    …”But as I thought about this crazy myth that gets perpetuated by household after household, a different thought came to me. It’s a thought that comes to me in different contexts, say this one about why so many people care about Lindsey Lohan. This is really, truly a magical night. Every family of different economic incomes, different backgrounds, different circumstances align for one event, year after year because this holiday matters for so many people on so many levels, merging the celebration of Christ’s birth with a myth spun from the actual life of a Catholic bishop long ago.

    And the traditions and the gift giving matters economically, providing a very real boost to the economy. It’s really, truly is a magical time of the year.

    And the reason is because Santa Claus does exist, he is not a myth. He is real. He exists because Santa is every parent who loves their family enough to make him real by providing this magical experience over and over again for those they love. One person cannot literally provide hope, and magic for millions of children all over the world. One person never does. One person can’t, but every single one of us, working together, collectively can. And this is always the case. It’s why conservatives were skeptical about the way Obama won the presidency but it’s also why so many liberals had hope in it.

    Because real change is made by each of us doing good for those near us, one thoughtful act of sacrifice at a time. If you want to make a real difference in ways that matter, the answer is not to build the next Facebook. While cool and useful, it’s not nearly as transformative as the founders of the company think. What really changes the world is for the world to change, by all of us changing together.”

    http://tempeturleymusings.blogspot.com/2013/12/santa-claus-does-exist.html

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