Let the booing begin, but no fictional fat men come down my non-existent chimney, and much to no one's surprise, he didn't when I was a child either. Yes, I'm the anti-Santa mom. Code Name: Mama is too and when she wrote about how she doesn't do Santa at her house, it really resonated with me. One thing that's always bothered me is the reaction I get from other moms when I tell them of my no Santa policy. And even worse is how some kids treat my kids when they learn we don't leave cookies for the man in the red suit.
It happens. It makes me worry about how my kids will be treated by their Santa-loving peers. I know how bad it is because it happened to me -- a kid who shunned Claus.
If you have followed any discussion amongst moms regarding Santa, things can get seriously heated. You get women who don't do Santa, who will yell at you about the trauma of lying to your child, how they'll resent you, not trust anything you say, and how when your child finds out Santa isn't real, expect them to start questioning why they're supposed to believe God is too. Yikes.
There are those who are adamant that without Santa, you've destroyed your child's entire childhood, the magic of the season, their imagination, and that you're cruel and a ridiculously self-righteous beeyotch. They get in your face, very angrily, and say in a threatening tone, "YOUR child better not RUIN IT for MINE." Or else what? I wish I were exaggerating.
I am anti-Santa ... for my own home. I really don't care what you do with your kids. Do I think it's lying? Yeah, I do. It's not something I'm comfortable with. I work really hard to try to be as age-appropriately honest with my kids as possible. But I also don't hold anything against anyone who feels that it's all in good fun. I don't do the Tooth Fairy (she scares me), the Easter Bunny, or anything of that type. We do lots of incredibly fun, unique, and very special things around holidays though, since there are many ways to celebrate, both involving fairy tales and without. We also don't believe in God, but I spend a LOT of time talking to my kids about beliefs of other people. The phrase "Everybody believes different things and that's okay" is ingrained in Rowan's little brain and he's used it. He tells me about conversations kids have about Santa, and we talk about it -- he knows that just as it's NOT okay for other kids to insult him for his beliefs, he can't do it either, and it's wrong to tell someone else that their beliefs are wrong. I quickly stopped him from announcing in Wal-Mart that the Santa costume was for Daddies to dress up in to pretend, because there were other kids around, yes, but I was more scared of what the moms would do.
When it comes time to end it ... if your child questions it, they deserve a truthful answer. I've heard things like explaining the history of Santa at that point, and discussing how the magic and fun makes him real, just like Big Bird is a man in a suit, but you can still love him (my mom told us that last part ... Santa was just like Big Bird, and it was a good explanation for us). And for goodness sake, DO NOT tell your children that their friends are liars or bad children if they ask why Joey said he doesn't believe in Santa or that Santa doesn't come to his house.
Biggest of all? If your kid does hear that there is no Santa, absolutely, under no circumstances, go on a crusade against the person who told them, whether it be a TV show, a movie (Megamind tells your kids he's not real, just a heads up!), or another child. ESPECIALLY not another child ... or their parents.
Whether you choose to "do" the Santa thing or not, keep reality in check -- no one is scarring their children for life either way, unless you're one of the extremists who thinks that the other people are, or you attack children and mothers because reality happens to seep into the fairytale you've perpetuated, or because you think that fairytale is the ultimate evil.
Santa exists ... as a fun character. What you make of it is your own thing, but try to remember the whole thing is intended to be fun ONLY.
Have you had people outright attack you either way over the Santa issue?
Image via Peter Forret/Flickr