The Santa Dilemma

One of the many quandaries a parent is faced with, is whether or not to bring Santa Claus into the holiday tradition. There are many reasons for not wanting to do so:
  • Most people view Santa as exclusive to the Christian religion.
  • It is believed that Santa Claus has nothing to do with the true meaning of Christmas, or that he is incompatible with the Christian values they hold.
  • Santa is the embodiment of the commercialism and materialistic values so prevalent in our society.
  • It is perceived as the Biggest Lie ever told children by their parents (right up there with the assurance that going to the dentist is “fun”)
Having grown up with Santa, I will always treasure the sense of magic and wonder bestowed upon me as a child. There is nothing that compares with childhood recollections of the Santa experience. 
Discovering the truth when the time comes, can be painful. Yet those who want to perpetuate the notion of the bearded man in red for as long as possible, are willing to go to certain lengths in order to maintain the deception.
My children were raised with a very strong Santa presence.
We told the kids that they could ask Santa for one thing (“a purple koosh ball”, “a nutcracker”, “cow bell”, “just a candy cane- I have lots of toys already…”).
They would write letters to leave with cookies and milk (and carrots!) on the mantle, and come down in the morning to find crumbs and carrot top on the letter Santa had left for them. Of course, the handwriting was disguised.
We were involved in a Project Christmas of sorts, and as the wrapping was being done by several people at our home one year, the preschoolers were enlisted as “Santa’s elves”.
Several years later, we saw Santa on the street right after he had run out of candy canes; my youngest and I decided to be “elves” and replenish his supply. The eldest, on the verge of disbelief, was shocked when Santa told the boys that he remembered the time when their big brother was one of his elves.
 When I was a little girl, my older brother and sister wanted me to remain oblivious to the facts for another year, and together schemed to awaken me to the sounds of reindeer hooves and sleigh bells. To this day I am able to vividly recall that magical moment. Hence the perpetuation of my deceitful actions.
 When asked by my children, I told them that I believed in Santa, for one of the perks of having kids is seeing the world once again through the eyes of a child, and the magic had indeed returned. I recounted the time I was a little girl and woke up in the middle of the night because I heard Santa on the roof!
A year or two later, I confessed I wasn’t really sure about the actual Santa Claus, but that I think Santa Claus is that feeling we have when we come down the stairs to lit tree and stockings on Christmas morning and are so excited to give each other the gifts we have for them.
As children become older, eventually the need to know the truth becomes stronger than the desire to believe, and we are faced with the ultimate “yes” or “no” question: “Are you Santa Claus?” “No, I’m your mother.” “Do you fill our stockings and write from Santa on the presents?” “Well…”
My son was rather devastated by the truth, yet insisted on letting the others maintain their delusion, and became an active participant in making that happen. The others never asked. We learned later that they had discovered the packaging to their gifts in the attic.
As for myself, I was in third grade when I recognized my mother’s handwriting. I don’t remember feeling particularly lied to, but I was disappointed; and Christmas lost that magical glow. Was it worth it? Absolutely.- RDW (12-9-10)

One thought on “The Santa Dilemma”

  1. Well, as a Jew, I can't relate to the Santa thing much. but we have an active tradition of Tooth Fairies and Travel Fairies (she brings little treats for long trips in the car). It is fun to keep these traditions and I dread the day when they find out that it is me. I think it is fun to pull the wool over their eyes as long as possible. I worry that my children will 'ruin' the mystique of Santa for others because we don't do that in our house. I tell them not to say anything to them about it. Just to say, "Santa doesn't come to our house because we are Jewish." Hopefully that is good enough.

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