We are not Santa people. Taed and I never discussed the idea of Santa when Keb was born, so it’s somewhat interesting that neither of us had some great Santa attachment that we wanted to pass on to Keb. Now don’t get me wrong, Keb has visited various Santas in the community — mall, local farm park, perhaps even school — but we didn’t follow up with Santa at home. In fact, it’s safe to say that we barely give Keb Christmas and birthday gifts. We do buy him things — just not often on his birthday (paying for even a small party is expensive) or Christmas (tons of gifts from relatives).
Part of not putting great emphasis on Santa is that, save for one year, we don’t wait until Christmas to open gifts. Once we have a good set of gifts under the tree, we wait until we’re about 10 days out and then allow him to pick a gift a day to open. Sometimes we know what the gifts are so we lead him, sometimes it’s a surprise. Needless to say, he’s not crazy about getting clothes. Clothes, in his mind, ruin Christmas. This, combined with our low-key approach to presents, means there’s no big push that Santa will be bringing THE ONE TRUE GIFT.
When he was younger, Keb would ask if Santa was real. We’d respond with the following question, “What do you think?” Sometimes it would be yes, and sometimes he’d think no. Either way we’d accept his answer and just go on. We never confirmed nor denied Santa. He was still pretty young when he figured out the whole Santa myth. Which, of course, means that we had to threaten him with bodily damage (a total fake, like we’d really do it.) if he TOLD anyone what Santa wasn’t real. I don’t really know how Jews, Muslims, Jains, Hindus, Buddhists, and other religions handle the responsibility of not sucking the joy from someone’s life. No wonder these people are hated by Christians! (I’m JOKING! Don’t be a hater!)
The again, the one thing we don’t subject Keb to is the whole, “I’m going to tell Santa you were bad, and you’re not going to get any toys for Christmas.” game (see Better Homes and Gardens Dec. 2010 for the thought-police shelf elf). Every time I hear of a parent doing this, I wonder what he/she is hoping to gain? The whole naughty/nice thing (with stalker overtones) seems weird enough. Do we really want this happy elf to be capricious? I’m surprised there aren’t support groups for kids whose parents manipulated them through “happy times”. I’m guessing it’s a pretty minor misdeed since this custom seems to be passed on from one generation to another. I think, were it me, once I found out there was no magic eye in the sky seeing me when I was sleeping, knowing when I’m awake, or checking to see if I was bad or good, I’d really unleash a can of bad behavior. I can’t be alone in my wrath. Imagine the extrapolation from Santa to God? Hmmmm. Furthermore, what about trust or good old-fashioned parenting where you really take the time to find a solution?
I know that parenting is an individual, no-holds barred, full contact sport where very few escape without a wound or two. However, in the spirit of Christmas couldn’t we stop using Santa as a battering ram?