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No Santa Here (Except When He Is)


“What are you asking Santa to bring you for Christmas?” 

Strangers in the grocery store and well-meaning friends at church ask my daughters this question without fail throughout December. My girls can usually answer, translating the question to the more appropriate “What do you want for Christmas?”

We walk a fine line because we don’t “do” Santa at our house despite being very much an Advent and Christmas celebrating family. Santa is not my tradition, as the miracle of Christmas is far greater than any funny, magical character. It can be hard for my girls to be different though, and the whole world seems to conspire to make kids believe in the Jolly Old Elf. 

I never believed in Santa Claus as a kid, and as my former classmates can attest, I made sure no one else in my Kindergarten class believed in him either! Spoiling others’ fun was a facet of my know-it-all attitude (some things never change?), and childhood friends remained a little touchy about me ruining the magic throughout our years of school together.

My mother grew up believing in Santa, but because her two sisters were much younger, their parents kept the myth going a little longer than necessary, continuing even when my mom started questioning. When she found out the truth, she began to question what else adults were lying to her about and found the experience traumatic. She never told my sister and me anything other than Santa is not real.

I’m not hardcore anti-Santa, but I’m clear with my girls that he’s a pretend character even when they wish I would play along that he isn’t! I don’t want my daughters to repeat my mistake of spilling the beans to an unsuspecting group of children, so whenever we talk about Santa magic, I make sure they know not to tell others and to play along because it is a fun thing to do. Different families do things differently–we talk about that a lot in many contexts, including this one.

As my oldest, now eight, has gone through school, she’s found herself wishing we DID celebrate with Santa and that she got to believe like all of her friends do. We certainly do pictures with Santa when they come up (at our church’s Advent Festival, at a store) but never seek them out otherwise. We very much enjoy a variety of Christmas music, including those songs starring Santa, and we have a variety of Santa-themed decorations and ornaments too mixed in with the more religious items.

I’m glad I don’t have to do an Elf on the Shelf (although I’m not sure I would even if we were a Santa family). I am “that mom” with an amazing Advent Calendar this year (accidentally purchased empty Frozen castle calendars and had to fill them myself with candy and treats–almost as fun as filling stockings!).

And speaking of stockings, I want the credit in the moment for filling those just like I want my girls to know their Dad and I give them the best Christmas presents! Don’t steal my thunder, Santa!

Do you celebrate with Santa? I’d love to hear different perspectives on the man with the bag. Ho-ho-ho, ya’ll.

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16 Dec 2019


By Mari Walker

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