I grew up in a family where we “did” Santa Clause. I’ve heard all the reasons to not have Santa including that you’re lying to your kids and you could be causing them confusion when you teach them about Jesus and Santa and one’s real and one’s not. For me, it was never a big deal. My parents didn’t lie to us. They told the stories and we believed them for a while and when we asked questions, they just responded with, “Well, what do you think?” As smart kids, we figured out at a fairly young age that there were no flying reindeer and a fat man wasn’t coming down our chimney. We still had fun with it though and had stockings and “Santa gifts” (mainly gifts that were for the whole family) until we moved out of the house.
When I met my husband, we didn’t really talk much about it, but I learned that his family didn’t do Santa. I was fine with that because although it was a fun part of childhood, I didn’t feel like my children would be missing anything by skipping that part. It wasn’t until this year that I began to think/worry more about it. Not for my children’s sake, but because they have friends and cousins who will believe in Santa and I don’t want my kids to be the big-mouths that spoil that for them.
I know some parents who have the attitude, “well, if their parents are going to lie to them, and my kids are going to tell the truth, I’m not going to stop them.” Suffice it to say, I’m not one of those parents. I want my girls to be sweet and kind and really, it’s none of our business what other parents decide to do or not do with their children.
H is now three and is noticing things much more than she used to. She picked up on this Santa character right off the bat. He’s hard to miss, right? Well, I sat down with her and talked about who he is, told the story of St. Nicholas, and talked about how some people pretend that Santa is real. I tried to make it simple, but it really is a bit confusing for a three year old. We ended up just leaving it alone and figuring that’d be the end of it.
Well, my sweet little girl had other plans.
My mom, sister and I mall walk once a week and right now our mall has a GIANT Santa display. Huge Christmas tree, reindeer, giant chair, big presents, all with Santa seated right in the middle. We walked by there on Monday and H was looking at the beautiful display when Santa waved to her. She of course smiled and waved back and told us, “There’s Santa!”
We took another lap and when we came back, we stopped to take a picture on the back side of the tree. Santa happened to be walking around that back and H saw him and said, “There’s….um….what is his name again?” I cracked up because it’s not the average three year old that forgets Santa’s name.
Then, as we walked away, she asked if she could give Santa a hug.
Uuuuuhhh…I really didn’t know how to reply. I told her not right now and went on walking. Brian called on his lunch break and I asked him what he thought. He didn’t have a problem with it, so we went back to where the Santa display was and waited in line. All the while, I was laughing inside knowing that I never, ever thought I’d be standing in line with my children waiting to see Santa!
When it was our turn, H went up and sat on his lap. She gave him a hug, but wouldn’t talk to him. M waved to him from my side. Then we went down to the food court for lunch with two happy little girls who had just received candy canes.
Talking to H afterwards, we found out that she knew that man’s real name wasn’t Santa. She knew he was pretending. When we asked her why she wanted to hug him, she replied, “He’s nice!”
H reminded me of something that day. She reminded me that it doesn’t matter who someone is or who they’re pretending to be. It doesn’t matter what you believe and what you don’t. Her little child’s heart reminded me that we should love everyone. That we should be sweet and kind to those around us even if we don’t believe in what they believe.
She reminded me that loving and caring about others is what we should really be doing at Christmastime.
And you know the best thing? She didn’t want to ASK for something from Santa. She just wanted to give him a hug.