In a brief discussion this afternoon in the kitchen, M and I decided not to lie to our kid.
Nana’s body doesn’t work anymore and she is under the ground. The cats went to live with other families. Santa Claus is not real.
Yeah, we’re not doing it. And it’s not because we’re Jewish* (although that might make it easier, ultimately.) It’s because it’s a lie. Made up for kids to infuse some excitement into their lives. Listen — Christmas is exciting with Santa or not. Houses are covered in rainbow lights! Trees come right into the living room! There is an abundance of sweets everywhere you look! Parties! Presents! Music! TV Shows! Do we really need to add a story about a big bearded fellow slipping into our house when we sleep? It’s not like we’re not giving him presents from us already. Between his late fall birthday, Hanukkah, and Christmas, there is no shortage of presents for this kid. Plus, Santa is a scary dude. The Who has already woken up in a cold sweat once this week, worried that Santa was coming and it’s only December 3rd. The two “kids-with-Santa” photos I have seen online today were both of toddlers screaming their fool heads off when faced with the Big Guy. I don’t see the good that perpetuating this myth is going to do, frankly.
I’m sort of digressing here, though. I know that lots of families have great memories of Santa and that lots of kids all over the world are delighted by him. I know that parents get a lot of good behavior out of the whole “naughty or nice” thing and that the Elf on the Shelf is the only thing that keeps their kids in line this time of year. I don’t begrudge them that. And I don’t look down on them for creating this fantasy world for their kids; everyone has his or her reasons and I suspect a lot of them have to do with magic and tradition. I’m all for tradition.
But for us? Well, maybe it’s because The Who’s so stressed about Santa already and maybe it’s because Santa was never a big part of my childhood, but I just don’t feel compelled to encourage belief. We’re not exactly sure yet how we’ll go about letting The Who know that Santa is not real. I’m actually not convinced that he knows the difference yet between a “character” and a real person. (He understands “pretend” because he will often pretend to be a firefighter or pretend to be an animal, but those things he is pretending to be are actually real. I’m not sure if he understands that when he is pretending to be Bob the Builder, for example, that Bob is not actually a real person.) So the way we go about explaining this calls for a little research.
But, yeah. No Santa. And, following with the same logic, I guess there’s no Tooth Fairy either**. Bummer.
* I have always been Jewish. M was raised Catholic and now considers herself Unitarian. We made a decision to raise The Who Jewish and fully plan to join a synagogue and send him to Hebrew School in preparation for a Bar Mitzvah. Of course, this has nothing to do with the fact that we have twinkle lights strung across the living room, stockings hung from the banister, and plans in the works for procuring a Christmas tree.
** Please don’t worry; The Who will be handsomely rewarded for losing his teeth. We’ll just make no bones about who is doing the rewarding.