Friday, December 11, 2009

The Santa Conondrum


It's all over the place this time of year.

So for the past few years, we've never done presents from Santa, or made lists for him. It seems like it's a lot more prevalent in Sophia's mind, as there's been way more Christmas movies and books in our house lately.

We had a FHE a few weeks ago, and talked about the Santa that lived, how he gave anonymously, and how we were going to give gifts without a name to a child in our church. We went together and picked out the gifts together.

Sophia's beginning to realize that lots of friends think Santa is bringing them gifts, that they think he's real, rather than being a storybook character like Princesses and Fairytales. Last year we saw a Santa at the mall, and she said "Look, someone dressed up as a Santa." This year at the ward Christmas party, she said- "Santa is a real person, he's here."

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and dissecting the whole Santa story, and how it is pretty much standard Christmas culture.

First, there's the reasons I didn't want to talk up Santa originally:

1. When I was a child, I was obsessed with Santa and getting gifts rather than receiving them. I think my children will still be concerned about what I am getting them for a gift, but I hope the whole discussion in our house leading up to Christmas is about what we are giving and how excited the other person will be.

2. I try my hardest not to lie to my children or gloss over hard things. I want them to know what I tell them, I honestly believe. I would hope they'd never think that you "grow out" of certain beliefs.

3. Santa movies bother me. Mainly because the idea behind them is that children have the capacity to "believe" and adults don't. AND there is a whole aura of blind belief- you "just have to believe"- that somehow belief is the key, rather than faith. I know I am thinking way too deeply about movies that a lot of people think about being about hope and joy and love. But I have religious beliefs, but I act on them in faith and receive answers and I don't advocate just believing to make something true. And it bugs me that movies talk endlessly about "the Spirit of Christmas" and not about Christ.

4. I find it incredible that we as a culture spend so much effort talking about and taking pictures of and baking cookies for Santa, basically perpetuating an idea that isn't true. Same with Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc. Why are we playing a joke on our kids? Why do we equate Santa Claus with child innocence?

So, is it worth it to tell my kids, when they ask, that I don't think Santa delivers gifts to them, and that he's like a character from a storybook? What should I do if another authority figure in their life says it is?


Amy said...

we always waited until the kids asked, then told them the story of the fun in believing in santa and playing the game... its worked well for us, they never ruin it for a friend, but they can play the game and help be santa for younger allows them to be part of the magic...

Indiana Haffners said...

I'd just stick with the "spirit of Christmas" idea. Santa can be the storybook figure that helps other people have that "spirit". I like the previous post - its fun to believe in the magic of Santa but I also agree sometimes it can get out of hand. There was a good article in LDS Living this Christmas asking the same question and I liked how she dealt with the question of Santa and when kids find out mom and dad were "lying" about Santa.

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