Monday, January 7, 2013

Christmas in a Santa-free home

Every year starting towards the end of November I start to see a lot of discussions pop up around the Internet regarding Santa.  Often these discussions take a rather sour and sometimes angry turn...when people like me chime in on how we don't do Santa a lot of assumption are often made, many of them negative.

I think the problem is that people see Christmas and Santa and almost interchangeable.  If you don't "do" Santa people wonder what is left.  The one exception is when people are against doing Santa due to religious views, in which case people know what is left: Jesus.  People accept that, though often grudgingly, because you kinda have to while remaining polite.  And if you're Jewish?  Well then it's obvious and most people will avoid the topic.

Then there are people like me: non-religious but still not doing Santa.  What's the deal?!  Why wouldn't you do Santa?!  How cold-heard and cruel that is!  Those poor children!  What of their imagination?!  People like me are met with confusion and often anger.  I mean, really, what sort of monster ruins Christmas for their kids?!

Here's the miscommunication: Not "doing" Santa with your kids does not make you anti-Santa.

The Santa pajamas.
My children know about Santa.  We read the stories and watch the movies.  The only difference is that my kids are not under the impression that Santa actually exists.

People who are anti-Santa (usually for religious reasons) actively avoid Santa.  My mother is apparently somewhat anti-Santa (though she did Santa with us when we were little, now she objects to it for religious reasons) and goes so far as to avoid wrapping paper that features the character.  I am NOT anti-Santa at all, however.  I think he's a perfectly fine character.  In our home he's no different than Frosty the Snowman or Thomas the Train.  My daughter has Santa Pajamas and we read The Night Before Christmas almost nightly during the month of December.  The ONLY difference is we are not telling the kids that he is real.  That's it.

It's about what we do, not what we don't do.

Someone once asked me "if you don't do Santa how do you celebrate Christmas?  Do you watch Christmas movies???"
Decorating sugar cookies with Grandma.
The answer is simple: we celebrate the way anyone else does.

We decorate our home.
We pick out a tree.
We string lights.
We sing songs.
We read Christmas books and yes, watch Christmas movies.
We drive around to look at Christmas light displays.
We buy and make gifts for our family and friends.
We do holiday crafts.
We bake cookies.
We decorate gingerbread houses.
We wrap presents.
We stop in to see the Santa at the mall if the kids ask to.
We count down the days to Christmas and get more and more excited as it grows closer.
On Christmas Eve my kids are bursting with excitement and can't wait til Christmas morning.
As soon as they're off to bed their father and I set to work, picking up the living room, redecorating the Christmas tree (since my toddler UN-decorated for me...), adding candy canes to the tree, filling stockings, putting out all the gifts we'd had stashed away, etc.

This year's Christmas spread.  I don't think it's you?

And then morning comes...the kids wake up, bounce out of bed, and insist we get up because they are just so excited that it's CHRISTMAS!

Christmas 2009.  This was the first year Dani knew what was up.  The red table, the foam chair, and the train track in the floor were all unwrapped gifts that she was immediately excited over seeing.  Look at that face!

Christmas 2011.  Oscar didn't really "get it" yet, but he still had fun.
Christmas 2012.  Dani went straight for stockings this year.
Christmas 2012.  Oscar's favorite thing was pulling stuff off the tree.

Much fun is had by all and then we go off to Grandma's house for even more Christmasy excitement.

So why not "do" Santa anyway?  You're not religious after all...

Quite simply we do not feel comfortable telling our children something we know to be untrue...........

 STOP RIGHT THERE!  Do not get offended!  This is about what we are comfortable's not a judgement against anyone else!

Well what about imagination?  Magic?  Fairy tales?

All those things are great!  My kids are very imaginative.  We are also big fans of fantasy in our home, but they are not presented as's that simple.  My daughter is a big fan of The Avengers, but she is not under the impression that there is really a team of superheros residing in New York City and defending the planet from alien invaders and super villains.  I assume other people don't insist to their children that trains really talk or that there is really a school for wizards somewhere in the UK...though I could be wrong.

Well what's the harm in it though?  Santa's fun!

It's not a matter of harm, it's just not something we feel is necessary (although some people don't have a good experience with finding out Santa isn't real...).  Yes, Santa IS fun!  We enjoy Santa as a character just as much as anyone else, but I don't feel the need to present Santa as fact when I know otherwise.  Frosty the Snowman is also fun, should I tell them he is real too?  Why is this one particular character SO important anyway?  What's the harm in NOT doing Santa?

Well they just better not ruin it for MY kids.....

Don't worry, I will clue my kids in on the fact that a lot of kids DO think Santa is real.  We won't argue about religion or Santa, okay?  Cool. 

Christmas 2012.  At Grandma's for even MORE holiday stuff!
What about the other holidays characters like the Easter bunny?  What about the tooth fairy?

We don't "do" those either.  However, we still give the kids a basket of candy and fun stuff in the Spring and whenever they start losing teeth we will give them quarters in exchange.  A basket of candy is still awesome even if it just came from your mom and dad.  Losing teeth and getting quarters for them is still exciting without fairy involvement.

In the end...

...does it really matter how you celebrate at the holidays?  Every family I've ever met had their own unique holiday traditions.  My husband's family opened stockings first at breakfast.  My family opened them last and were too busy tearing stuff open to worry about breakfast at all.  In some homes Santa brings tons of gifts.  In others he only brings a few on is only responsible for filling the stockings.  In some homes he wraps gifts, in some homes he doesn't...if kids all sat down and compared how Santa behaves in their house they'd probably figure out something was up.  Either way, it's not worth fighting over.  We don't do Santa.  No biggy.  Christmas is still Christmas and I should probably start working on next year's gifts I'll just say:

Merry Christmas Anyway!


  1. Thank you for your blog.
    I am a RVA Momma. I have a daughter, Amelia, she is 4 and a son, Declan, he'll be 2 in March. I'm going to start staying home next week. I am interested in unschooling and looking for friends with similar interests. Is there a group you spend time with? Would you like to get together some time?

    1. Awesome! I'd love to! :) I have been meaning to start going to the homeschool recess that meets on Wednesdays, but the holidays kept me super busy. We're getting back into the swing of things now. Do you guys ever go to the Children's Museums or Cartwheels & Coffee?

    2. We do. Want to meet at Cartwheels and coffee sometime? we dont have a membership to the museum yet, but we've been a lot. I'm free as of Jan 20! so anytime thats good for you.

    3. That'd be great! How is Tuesday the 22nd in the afternoon for you? Say around 1-ish? We haven't been to C&C in months and I think they'd both enjoy it now. Dani is 4 and Oscar will be 2 in June so our kids are well matched in age! :)

  2. Sounds good. see you then. I thought maybe they were close from the pictures. This is gonna be lots of fun.:)