December 11, 2008

Is he real?

Four years ago, back in my heady, kid-free days of Armchair Parenting, I vehemently insisted that I will do the whole Santa Routine with my own kids. And here we are, it is 2008, and as good as my word, we are doing Santa. Arun is well aware that Santa is going to bring him something - the particulars are still fuzzy to him, but the message is crystal clear: Santa will bring me some good shit.

I like the Santa Routine. It is fun. Santa brings a couple of toys, fills the stockings (with care) and carries on his merry way. We are even going to do the Mall Santa Thing this year, for the first time ever. However, I do not do the whole "if you are bad" theme and overall, have tried to keep it all low-key. So, that is it.


I probably have changed my tune on the "Is He Real?" Dilemma. At this point, I just cannot see myself lying to him. I am not opposed to stretching the truth, but would rather save Bald Faced Lies for more important things such as I Never Drank the Devil's Drink in High School, I Never Had Premarital Sex With Your Father and I Never Ran Up Credit Card Debt. I am still not sure what my answer will be, but I suppose I have a year to figure it out.

And there you have it. Once again, I find myself staring down the barrel of Hypocrisy. Damn. This parenting gig is hard.


Clare Norcio said...

I was all set to NOT do Santa from the get-go, but at almost 4 my older son saw a man in a Santa costume and insists that Santa is real. When he asks point blank, and he has, I tell him the story of St. Nick, the bishop who gave gifts to poor families (supposedly by dropping them down the chimney to land in socks hung on the mantle to dry). And when he asks specifically about the North Pole (he loves the Polar Express), I tell him something like, "The story goes...." Dodging it, but also not lying to him or arguing with him that Santa is pretend (and yes, we had that argument once last year, after he saw the man in the suit).

So, in our house Santa brings only small things for the stocking (a la St. Nick) and mama and papa supply the rest. When he's a bit older, I will read him the Yes, Virginia letter, and maybe Gift of the Magi by O Henry.

My husband is uncomfortable with the greed and secular aspect of Christmas excess, so we also limit what we give them to one or two very special things (a la the Three Kings). I'm not terribly religious myself, but I really like keeping Christmas simple at our house because 2 sets of grandparents, great grandparents, aunts/uncles go way overboard on gifts for my boys, no matter what I say.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

I LOVE your approach - what a great idea.

Anonymous said...

Clare, I think that's a great way to go about it. I don't have kids yet, but my plan has been to give them the "story" and "spirit" of Santa, but not insist that he is a real, live person. To teach them that we can all play Santa to those we love and those less fortunate in a special way.

I figured out the Santa gig at a ridiculously young age, but I don't feel like I missed out because of it. I don't think there's much question that for many people, the magic of Santa is real, even if the man isn't.

Olivia said...

I'm totally going to steal Clare's idea. I've always thought of the Santa dilema as either I have to lie to my kids or be "ba humbug" about it. But telling the story or legend of Santa sounds like a good compromise. Probably would work for easter too.

feffer said...

My husband and I are atheists, so we ONLY celebrate the secular aspects of Christmas. My daughter seems to think that Santa is kinda like Dora, a pretend character that sometimes people dress up as. We tell her that other people like to pretend he is real and that it would make them sad if she told them he wasn't. She's only 3, so we'll see what happens next year.

Anonymous said...

Ahh screw that! We're doing Santa this year, making a big deal out of it, AND invoking the possibility of coal in the stocking. (actually happened to my little brother once - still a legendary story in my family) I look at it this way. We get to only be parents like this for a small amount of time. At some point they will figure it out and most likely not actually be upset about it. Because by then, the gift giving will be just that. Gift giving. Not as much fun and somewhat stale. For me, gift giving became fun again when I was in college. To each their own, but I'm jacked about Christmas this year. It won't be long before I'll be looking back on this time wishing I would have done more.

Moderndayhermit said...

We are a household of evil Atheist and *do* Christmas as a secular holiday. We don't go nuts with the gifts (Oh, my Mom who is CATHOLIC on the other hand...another story) and I didn't intend to go one way or the other with Santa but my boy has seen him and is a fan so whatever.

BUT, I will say I'm not against lying to my kid about Santa or using it as a blackmail tool. I figure if he's emotionally damaged by the news that Santa isn't real then he will REALLY not be prepared for disappointments ahead of him in life.

Unknown said...

I have surrendered to hypocrisy as a parent more times than I can count.