There isn’t a single aspect of raising children that we get to take for granted. Even the most mundane, daily parenting decisions that have been made over and over by billions of people for thousands of years have to get re-made by every parent every time. What we feed them, when we bathe them, what and how we teach them – it’s all on a case by case basis. Why then, is it such a shock to some people when I explain how our family’s version of Santa might look different than theirs?
As a new mom, I remember the shock on someone’s face when I told them we were “not doing” Santa. There have been strangers online, as well people much closer, who’ve accused me of depriving my daughter of the best parts of childhood. Of magic, fun, and happiness. Simply because, in my family, we are choosing to let her know right away he is a fictional character.
But before diving further into the tale of this parenting choice, I offer this…
DISCLAIMER: I pass NO judgment whatsoever on anyone that goes all in with the Santa Claus business. In fact, I would argue that everyone who is exposed to him essentially “does Santa” in some capacity, and that the beauty of it is that no one does it the same. It’s a spectrum that includes everything from creating pretend reindeer hoof stomps on the roof at midnight, to the kids who “know who he really is” right out of the gate, and everything in between. Judgment is just silly, because you never find two families who have identical traditions or the same on-the-fly answers to curious questions from their kids. Simply put, everyone has a different Santa because everyone is different.
My personal reasons for not going along with the more traditional Santa idea stems from my own childhood experience, as so many parenting decisions do. First of all, I never got a lot joy out of it, that I can remember – and I remember a lot. Of course each Christmas morning I loved the presents waiting for me beneath the tree, but as my mom tells the story, I vocally wondered “why some stranger got us so much,” as present after present claimed to be from Santa Claus instead of Mom.
I also had nightmares of him peeking in our windows at night since he was allegedly “always watching.” Another time, I tried defending Santa in the first grade to the class bully, only to get teased until I cried. Then shortly thereafter, finding out there was no one to defend.