The Christmas Post I’m Scared to Write

Maybe when you’re about to say something that is potentially controversial the best thing to do is just to rip it off like a Band-aid.  So here it is:

We don’t plan to do the whole Father Christmas thing with The Duchess.

(Cowers in corner and covers eyes)  Is anyone screaming at their computer yet?

Santa can hear your disapproving screams from the North Pole. Photo via takepart.com

Here’s the thing, we don’t think badly about the people who spark the imagination of a child by telling them about Santa and how his sleigh is pulled by reindeer or how he comes down the chimney, or through the mail slot, or if you have neither – breaks into your house through the window like a criminal of the night.  We know that there is fun and excitement in that element of Christmas.   I’m not suggesting that other people should adopt our position, I only want to explain why we think what we think.  So, before The Native and I are accused of being killjoys, hear me out:

In it together: I wouldn’t take this approach if we didn’t both feel this way.  I believed in Santa Claus until around the age of five, maybe six, but The Native never believed and the thing is guys, he is not scarred for life, even if he cries himself to sleep every night about his lost childhood.  But seriously, he doesn’t resent never believing.  Plus, it’s pretty hard to believe as a young boy when your own dad is Father Christmas at your toddlers’ group (who must have been the skinniest Father Christmas ever.  I am told it was his real beard that was the important casting factor).

Emphasis: That’s not why Father Christmas wasn’t a fixture in his home, as far as he remembers his parents simply never put an emphasis on believing in him.  And so The Native and I will not villainize Santa.  We will not hand The Duchess a Christmas present and say, “Now remember, sweetie, Father Christmas is a fraudulent home invader and this present is from your superior Mummy and Daddy,” we just won’t make any big fuss about him.

Since she will know that Mummy and Daddy buy her the gifts we will, of course, swear her to secrecy because for those children who believe, it isn’t fair for her to ruin this time for them for the sake of being a know-it-all.  And I trust that she’ll be able to do this.  When I was growing up there was always that kid who still believed at 11….12…..17.  The other kids would just listen, as they looked at each other with knowing eyes and a slight nod, when the believing child would speak dreamily about what Santa might bring them.  It’s kid code; you don’t tell.

Meaning:  I think the biggest thing I question is whether Christmas will be as magical to her if we choose not to tell her that Father Christmas is real.  I love this time of year.  It does feel special and I want her to feel that it’s special, too.  But when questions come about presents and why we do what we do, what will we say?  Instead of saying that there is a rotund stranger dressed in red that she’s never met who decides if she deserves the presents based on whether she’s been good or bad this year, I would rather tell her that we buy her presents because no matter what she’s done, no matter what has taken place, she is ours and we love her.  We buy presents because as a family we want to celebrate an incredible event in history.  Surely, it is just as magical to know these things and that she is loved beyond measure by those who see her at her very best and at her very worst.

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15 thoughts on “The Christmas Post I’m Scared to Write

  1. Charlie

    I can’t remember ever believing in Father Christmas. We (as a family) played the game, but I never actually thought that a fat man in a red outfit was going to come down the chimney and deliver presents. It just didn’t seem like the sort of thing that happened in the world.

    I don’t think anyone will come to any harm from not believing. If anyone starts to go on about the “magic of Christmas” just turn your head and do the “pretending to stick your fingers down your throat” mime – that’ll shut them up 😉

    Reply
  2. christie

    I really do understand why you are not doing the whole Santa thing.
    My husband and I decided that we wouldn’t take DD to Santa, that we rather liked the mysterious element to it and that was what made it so magical. The whole point was that you didn’t see this man. However, it has been really hard! There was Santa at preschool, Santa in the middle of the shopping centre, Santa in a restaurant. So now we just try to go with the flow. If she gets suspicious then we will cross that bridge when we come to it!

    Reply
    1. Living Life as an Expat Parent Post author

      Yes, I can certainly understand the Santa being everywhere thing. For us the plan won’t be to ignore or avoid Santa, but hopefully just to talk about why people believe in Santa and why we choose to things differently as a family. I still fully anticipate that at the age of 3 she’ll have a little bit of belief, simply from what she’s seen around, which is fine, we’re just not going to make a big fuss about him.

      Reply
  3. yummymummyreally

    Interesting and brave post! I wouldn’t do that personally, but each to their own. Well done for being courageous enough to not bow to peer pressure and to stand up for your beliefs.

    Reply
  4. LittleMe

    Excellent post and good reasoning. We will be doing the Santa thing as long as she enjoys it but Santa won’t be used as a threat regarding her behaviour. The thing I remember about Santa as a child is pretending to believe every year in case my mum stopped playing along. Convincing her that we believed was fun, even though she saw right through us she didn’t have the heart to stop until we were all well into our teens 🙂

    Reply
  5. Deborah

    Well said! I love the end. We are pretty much in the same boat, except I don’t know that we will tell our kids Santa is make believe once they start hearing about him from other people. I don’t think Landon would be able to keep the secret. I think he would be that know it all kid who ruins it for everyone else. So we’ve chosen to just keep the focus on Jesus and just try to de-emphasize Santa as much as possible when it starts coming up. He just turned three and he still doesn’t really have any clue about Santa… but I know that may change when he starts school. Good for you for being brave.. but I understand the fear. We’ve gotten some slack about it.

    Reply
    1. Living Life as an Expat Parent Post author

      Haha. I love that you think Landon will be a little snitch. Bless! In the short time since I’ve posted this I’ve been really surprised by how many people have said on here, on fb, or e-mail that they are doing the same. In a few years (when school begins), we’ll have to see how it’s all playing out.

      Reply
  6. MmeLindor

    Ohh, I do hope she is a good secret keeper, otherwise you might find yourself ostracised at pre-school.

    Seriously, I have never had a problem with Santa. Our two are 9yo and 7yo and I think that our daughter suspects but is willing herself to believe (or perhaps worried she won’t get her iPod if she tells us she knows). There have been rumblings in school with some children letting the cat out of the bag and others insisting that he is real.

    I don’t think it is Santa that makes the magic of Christmas, but the whole advent markets going, tree decorating, cookie baking, present wrapping, all day cooking and eating extravaganza.

    Reply
    1. Living Life as an Expat Parent Post author

      I totally agree with you about the magic of Christmas being those traditions and special memories that seem to season the whole Christmas period. I’m sure if I have ruined the magic in any way, she’ll make me fully aware of it as she grows up.

      Reply
  7. Stacey Schuurmann

    We don’t either! It’s so nice to know I’m not the only one in the family 🙂 It was something James and I talked about with all the other random kid topics. Santa was never a thing in James’ household and I like the idea of not creating a separate reason for celebrating. ( I do get Halloween costumes though-James never did that as a kid either).
    My question back to you is this- how do you handle other kids who do believe? We know our kids will ask us some day who this Santa guy is and I’m ready for that but how do you keep them from hurting other kid’s beliefs.
    As for magical, the season will be just as wonderful with out Santa. Think of all there is to celebrate and share!

    Reply
    1. Living Life as an Expat Parent Post author

      That question is definitely presenting as the most common concern people have. I found out about Santa around 5 or so and my parents sat me down and had a direct conversation with me about why it’s important not to ruin it for other children (including my younger sister, who did still believe). I remembered that and never did tell anyone who continued to believe Santa was real. I am hoping, but perhaps naively, that this will be enough because I do think clear communication can go miles. If it’s not, we’ll have to take it as it comes, angry parents and all. Perhaps, we should revisit the topic in 3 1/2 years when she starts school (it’s 4 years old in England). The post could be titled, ‘My Daughter — The Snitch.’

      Reply
  8. Sister

    Tres and I had never considered not playing in to the whole Santa thing. However, we never really did the whole ‘be good or Santa’ won’t come: we would just write letters, make cookies and sign presents ‘ from: Santa.’ But every year Tres would grip about a big fat guy getting the credit for our hard work ;). It wasn’t until I had that conversation with you and Johnny a few years ago about your plans that we realized Santa doesn’t have to exist. So Tres abruptly told Merlin – and then I had to back track and explain why we let him believe, the spirit of Christmas and why he’s important to some people and the importance of not telling others who still want to believe in him. He was okay with it, understood about others, and has never said anything. I do believe as long as you communicate and allow kids to understand WHY staying quiet is important, it will be more important to them to respects other kid’s feelings than be a ‘snitch.’

    Reply
  9. Pingback: A Blogiversary: 5 Things I’ve Learnt about Blogging « Living Life as an Expat Parent

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