My friend Martha has a great post on Santa and her kids. I’m about 100% there with her.

Neither Erik nor I remember discovering that Santa wasn’t real. It never seemed like a deliberate choice by my parents, and I felt like there was always a little bit of a wink and a nod about the whole thing growing up. I’m guessing it didn’t help that when I was three, my Dad and my Uncle Tom, for some inexplicable reason, appeared together at our door both dressed in Santa costumes. (Also inexplicable to me: why did we have two Santa costumes around the house? Which very soon after the Dad-and-Tom incident made their way into the dress up box?) Another moment that probably keyed me into the potential that Santa didn’t exist: when I was in kindergarten, my school ( a private Christian school in Holland, MI, largely attended by people of Dutch descent) brought in Sinterklaas and his donkey (they had the good sense to leave Zwarte Piet out of it). When someone who LOOKS like the mall Santa, but clearly isn’t Santa, (more sophisticated costume, bishop mitre, classier beard, more lace) appears at a school assembly with a real live donkey, I’ve got to say that puts some doubt into your mind about the whole thing.

So we’ve never made  a big deal out of Santa with Zora. Wink, wink, on the stockings. No lists to get to the North Pole via Elf-mail. No trips to the mall to meet the big man.

Similar to Martha, Erik and I haven’t made a big thing about this because we are completely opposed to Santa. We do stockings, but in the past she’s seemed to get that other people put stuff in there. We do a shoe with a carrot or apple for the donkey on December 5, and leave a few small gifties from Sinterklaas. It gives me some way for my Dutch heritage to make a showing; Erik’s got the lefse and lutefisk, I get Sinterklaas. Plus, I sort of love the absurdity of the whole Sinterklaas thing. (David Sedaris explains it best.) I’ve been hoping this would seem like a fun game for her, and not too serious.

And until she hit preschool, she was pretty much oblivious. But the she heard about Santa from other kids. And the preschool does, I think, a decent bit of talk about Santa.  And then she became addicted to the movie Elf, so now she’s talking a bit more about Santa. (My favorite: her contention that last year she saw Santa in the (emptied-for-winter) pool on the roof at Grandma and Grandpa’s building in the city. Which, this year, has morphed into the idea that this is where the reindeer hang out when they are waiting for Santa to finish his work in the building.)

It’s a sad admission, but redirecting her from all the Santa talk is not something I have the energy to work on right now. Unfortunately, a whole lot of my parenting technique revolves around what I just don’t have the time or energy for. In fact, the Santa thing is one of these. For example, there’s just too much stuff to get done around Christmas time. So I’m not about to add standing in line to see mall Santa to the list.

I’m planning that the solution to this will come largely from the perspective presented by The Legend of St. Nicholas, by Demi. It’s a beautiful book, with the whole story of the original saint told, and then it explains that the things we do at Christmas time are in honor of what he did, things that he did out of his devotion to God.

And, I think we’ll try to do as much winking as we can this year around the subject.

4 Responses to “Santa”

  1. John Vest Says:

    Thanks for this, Erica. I have been struggling with this since Noah was born. (Anna doesn’t have as much trouble with it as I do.) I ordered a copy of the Demi book, which looks great. I must admit that I was secretly a little pleased that Noah hated mall Santa last year.

  2. Jim Says:

    Sorry about the lutefisk thing.

  3. With Santa Claus, There’s No Avoiding Weird | John Vest Says:

    [...] to him, I wanted to handle this whole Santa business with care.  Taking a cue from another pastor and parent, I bought The Legend of Saint Nicholas by Demi to read with my son.  I thought this would be a [...]

  4. Erik Vorhes Says:

    My favorite bit of Zora’s Santa-related experience this year has to do with the dollhouse she got from us. When we told her it was from us (and therefore not from Santa), she immediately concluded that she was getting a second dollhouse from Santa, since that’s what she’d asked the Santa stand-in for when we got our Christmas tree.

    She seemed to take it OK when we disabused her of that notion, and maybe it won’t come back up in 20 years or so, when she’s in therapy!