The Truth About Santa is…
Different for each and every family. There is no one size fits all approach to parenting, so we must start first with what feels right and true in our heart and lead from there.
The traditions we carry forward are often influenced by our relationship with them in our early years. So, I will share a little about my history with you…As a child I felt very connected to my imaginative spirit, I still do. I had an imaginary friend, Sal, who I have very fond memories of. When I started school and made new friends, Sal faded into a memory. Bus still to this day, when I imagine Sal I am filled with comfort and warmth.
My strong imaginative spirit didn’t end there, when it came to Santa I was a believer! In fact, I believed in Santa for looong time (like 12 years old, yikes!), I was definitely teased about it by friends, but nothing got in the way of my truth. To me, Santa was 100% real. He symbolized love, generosity, safety, warmth, family, connection, and most of all HOPE and FAITH. Santa was my first introduction to believing in something bigger than myself, something that I could not touch or see or feel or hear. He was mystical and magical and I was deeply rooted in my faith. At that time in my life I needed to hold onto hope. Santa was an anchor for me during a tumultuous time in the midst of my parents divorce. And yet, even as I matured and developed a new understanding about the “truth” of Santa, the feelings of love, safety, warmth and generosity remained. The hope and faith was still there. I still remember my mother’s response when I questioned her, she said, “if you believe in him, then he’s real to you.”
When I became a parent I knew I wanted to continue this tradition with my daughter and I also felt a responsibility to carry forth the tradition in a respectful and honest way. As I see it, I do not lie about Santa because I believe in the spirit of Santa and what this mythical figure represents. Each Christmas I embrace the spirit of the holiday and the tradition of gift giving with joy in my heart.
“But, is he real?”
About a week ago while my daughter and I were playing a board game, she paused and said…
Ella: “Mom, my friend at school doesn’t celebrate Santa because they don’t believe in him.”
Me: “Yes, that’s right they have a different family tradition. ”
Ella: “But, she doesn’t think Santa is real”
Me: “Well, what do you think?”
Ella: “I believe in Santa, I like him”
Me: “I like him too. I believe in the magic of Santa, I love this time of year. Hey, maybe you can ask your friend what their family’s tradition is. That would be cool to learn about.”
I went on to share how wonderful it is that her friends have different traditions than we do. I shared, “this is what makes friends so wonderful! We all have different beliefs and traditions. You don’t have to believe in what she believes in and she doesn’t have to believe in what you believe in but it is important to respect each other”. As a parent, I don’t feel it’s anyone else’s responsibility to uphold our value system. Life is all about diversity, creativity, exposure to new ideas and perspectives! This is what makes our world beautiful.
When my daughter begins to question the magic of Santa and it is clear that she is ready for a new understanding of Santa I will honor that and share that even though Santa doesn’t put presents under our tree we will always embrace the tradition of gift giving, generosity, hope and love. I will share how important it is to have a relationship with our faith. That there will be many times in her life that she will have to simply trust in the magic and the mystery of life. For our family, the legend of Santa is an introduction to the importance of believing in something that is not tangible. In other words, faith. I recognize that this may not resonate for all families and I respect that. Faith and Spirituality are unique and personal which is why it’s so important to first connect with what is true and real for you as a family.
You better watch out, You better not…..
Send the message that Santa only delivers gifts to children who are “good”. Not only is this not in alignment with the spirit of the holiday it doesn’t support the development of a trusting relationship with our children. We don’t want to threaten our children into “good behavior” (whatever that means). Any kind of misbehavior or “big feelings”, as we like to call it in our home, is a sign of disconnection and unmet needs. Before we focus on redirecting the behavior we want to understand the unmet need. If we simply threaten our children into behaving well we’re missing out on an opportunity for deeper connection and understanding. These are the building blocks to a trusting relationship. You can read more on that HERE.
I would also avoid forced visits or pictures with Santa. Forcing a child to sit on Santa’s lap (or anyone’s for that matter) is scary, intimidating and a violation of one’s bodily autonomy. Ask your child their preference and let them take the lead.
Faith, Hope and Love
A few days after that conversation with my daughter she approached me with enthusiasm to share that she and her friends, who don’t share the same belief about Santa, came up with a tradition of their own: to make a gift for their parents. In fact, they had already started planning what they would create. When we follow what feels true and kind only love can grow from there. Follow your hearts, dear mama’s and lead with love. In our home that truth about Santa is that he is a loving spirit who gives from his heart to bring joy to the people he loves.
Wishing you all the happiest of holidays!