From the time my first daughter was born we have tried to downplay the secular Santa Clause. We made the choice notto lie to our children about the mythical figure. I honestly believe that Santa Clause takes away from the true meaning of Christmas for a child. No matter how much a parent tries to do both, the glitz and magic of Santa at the North Pole who flies around on a magical sleigh with reindeer, including one with a glowing red nose, able to make any toy and bring it to children all over the world … far outweighs the religious aspects for a young child. They can’t help it, Santa is just too glamorous and exciting! I detest the Holiday shows that are purely secular… especially the movies that claim that unless Santa is able to give all the children of the world presents there will be no Christmas.
Instead, we try to put all the focus on the Biblical Christmas story, the true story of St. Nicholas, the Nativity and Advent. I want my kids to grow up wihout the eventual let down of discovering there is no Santa Clause who flies around the world on magical reindeer. My children know that their father and I are giving them gifts, in the same spirit that St. Nicholas gave gifts to those in need, who was inspired by the ultimate gift from God to humanity, the gift of His Only Son, the Gift of Grace, of salvation. We give our children a few nice and simple gifts. They don’t have the concept of “Santa will bring me anything I ask for”
Materialism is a temptation we all suffer, and it is easy to fall into the lulling and dulling effect, the sedative of more, more, more. Materialism is the drug that justifies selfishness, laziness, disrespect for life.
Certainly we are not the “norm.” My daugters preschool teacher once sent an angry note home because my four year old was telling the children that “Santa Clause is just a made up story and Jesus is real, and much better than Santa.” I have friends and family members who go to great lengths to perpetuate the belief in Santa Clause for as long as possible. From the time I was a kid I had a real thirst for Truth and when I found out that my parents had been lying about Santa Clause, at the age of seven or eight, I felt embarassed and angry. I also questioned whether they were lying about Jesus as well.
Why* fabricate* a hero when the Truth is so much better anyway?
The way I look at it, as parents we have a tough enough road ahead of us in passing on our Catholic Faith to our children. It’s tough enough to compete with the media, music, movies, and, sadly, sometimes even teachers or peers. Why perpetuate a fake santa to combat with the Birth of Jesus? Certainly, if a child is given the Truth of Christ and Scripture, the miraculous stories of the Saints and Angels they will never be disappointed, because they will never find them false.
If we focus on the basics of the Holiday, and all of our activities are centered on Jesus Christ, the family traditions like baking cookies, singing Christmas Carols, lighting the Advent Wreath with a prayer at dinner time, the smell of incense at Mass, the pageants, giving special gifts. etc. that is what they will carry with them to adulthood. It is any of these sights and sounds, tastes and scents, shared with the love of their family over the years, that will last into adulthood… perhaps there would be less Christmas depression in adulthood.
Certainly I have always respected other parent’s decision to “do” Santa with their kids, and am careful to explain to my children not to “let teh cat out of the bag”… but I find it very rare that people respect our family’s Christmas Traditions, and our choice to tell our children that we are the loving parents who put gifts under the tree for them. Our children depend on us for Truth… why should my husband and I be obligated by our culture to perpetuate a myth, when the Truth is so much better?
BTW I like Christmas decorations, and decorate to the hilt! Family parties are also a favorite!