Friday, January 18, 2013

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 25): Do you do Santa?

After Wednesday's pictures of Peter opening some belated presents, a friend asked me if we "do Santa." The short answer is, "Not really." We didn't take Peter to visit Santa at the mall, write letters, or leave treats for him to eat on Christmas Eve. We didn't imply that our stockings were filled by Santa. We almost exclusively play religious Christmas music at home and in the car, so he wasn't familiar with Rudolph or the other Santa lore passed on through song.

He still knows about Santa. One of his Christmas books is The Night Before Christmas, narrated by his Grandma. His Grams sang secular songs to him. We weren't hermits during December, so he heard secular songs in stores and saw Santa at the mall.

Stealth picture while he listens to his book.
And yes, he prefers no pants. Just sweatshirt and diaper.

At this point, we just haven't talked about Santa. Peter didn't seem particularly interested in him, so the topic never came up in conversation. People would ask, "Are you excited about Santa coming?" Peter would just look confused and say no. Since we hadn't emphasized Santa as a gift-giver, Peter didn't see why people would get excited. I mean, there are songs and pictures of snowmen, too, but we're not enthusiastic about them. :-)

I assume he'll be more curious about Santa as he gets older. We've decided to explain (when he asks) that Santa represents the spirit of generosity. He is a legend, originating from St. Nicholas (bishop of Myra), but nothing more than a fun teaching story. That being said, many people like to believe he is magical and real, so not to criticize if others talk about him like he is real. And if Peter wants to pretend Santa is real, that's fine too, but he will know that it is all just pretend.

One thing we won't do is compare Santa to God. I know there are Christians who say Santa represents God's love... but given how our culture portrays Santa as rewarding the good and punishing the naughty, I think that's a lousy image of God's love (see Matthew 5:45). None of us are good enough to deserve what God gives to us.

It's been interesting to see how others react to Peter's lack of interest in Santa, Rudolph, and Frosty the Snowman. By not actively exposing him to that part of Christmas, we have made some people defensive. I've been surprised by how annoyed these folks have seemed, even though we're not anti-Santa. We're just not teaching it. Most people have been surprised/confused/curious, which makes more sense to me.

We'll see how he approaches Santa in the following years. For now, I'm happy that he can sing all three verses of Silent Night and don't mind a bit that he looks up blankly when someone asks him to sing Rudolph. What has your family done with Santa?


  1. We don't 'do Santa' at our house either. St. Nicholas comes on 12/6 if the kids leave some of their toys and clothes for him to take to other kids. Also, John the Baptist came and filled our stockings on 1/6.

    It was more awkward for me I think when someone would ask E what Santa brought her? She would stare blankly and talk about another present. For people who pushed for an answer I went into the whole St. Nicholas deal and I think person got more than they bargained for.

    E did see Santa out and about and she said "Mama there is a snowman" I got a good chuckle out of that and did not correct her 2.5 yr old line of thinking.

    When the time does come and she asks about Santa our one liner is "Santa does not come to our house, St. Nicholas does"

    Glad to know we're not the only ones who are keeping Santa out of our chimney!

    1. I've never heard of John the Baptist being involved with Christmas - what an interesting tradition!

    2. Thanks! It just kind of happened that way because we want to emphasize that Christmas is 12 days starting with 12/25 - and the thought of planning small little gifts for 12 days is not something I want to do; so stockings on 1/6 was our compromise.

      In the Latin West 1/6 is Epiphany - when the 3 Wise Men come. I don't know around here but in Mexico and some other countries kids will leave their shoes out for the Wise Men to fill which is a cool idea and could easily go along with them filling our stockings.

      Well we're not Latin Rite Catholics sooooo in the Byzantine East 1/6 is Theophany - when Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan. So with the Wise Men out it only made sense to incorporate John into getting our stockings filled. It is some much more fun if there is some one else behind the surprise - not just mom and dad.

      Okay that was way more than you bargained for probably : )

    3. Intriguing! I was vaguely aware that the Eastern Rite celebrated things differently, but I didn't know that Jan 6 was a different holiday. We call Epiphany "little Christmas" and usually save some Christmas goodies to eat that day. Sometimes we do gifts, but usually that's only when a gift was forgotten on actual Christmas. :-)

  2. I just wrote a post about this last month! Glad to see other parents are talking about it too. We don't do Santa either. When I told some of my coworkers about my idea of not "doing Santa" before we had kids, 2 of them almost had a heart attack and didn't take it well. Oh well - not looking for public popularity : )

    1. Hm, I must have missed that one, better go back and read it. :-)

      Yeah, I was really taken aback the first time someone got upset about us not doing Santa... I mean, I'm not running into elementary schools and yelling, "He's a fake!" *shrug* Whatever.

  3. We didn't do Santa with Gus this year. I am not against it, per se, but I don't know how one would introduce the concept of Santa bringing presents, since we don't go in for the whole naughty and nice thing. I also don't like the idea of giving Santa credit for presents. People (including me!) put a lot of thought into buying presents, and I think we should be able to thank them and then remember them when we use the presents. I am sure we will do it in the future, though, because he has cousins that we will be opening presents with. It just wasn't a priority for me this year to go out of my way to tell him about it.

    1. Not a priority is a good way to put it. Even when we do address it with Peter, we're not planning to start a crusade against Santa.
      In my family growing up, Santa only filled our stockings, no other gifts. Our stockings were usually filled for just a couple dollars. I might get a bouncy ball, a notepad & pencil, a pair of socks, and a chocolate bar, for example. Maybe you could take that approach with Gus, so he can still "do Santa" with his cousins but also express gratitude for the more thoughtful gifts he receives. Just an idea.