“Mommy, is it almost Christmas?”
“Mommy, how many days are there until Santa arrives?”
“Mommy, please don’t tell Santa!”
Maxwell firmly believes in Santa. He loves him. He dreams about him. He is willing to stand in line (no matter how long) to see him.
A coworker proudly proclaimed that her parents never told her about Santa. Instead, they told her that they were the ones providing her gifts and that Christmas was about Jesus’ birth and not Santa Claus and frivolous trinkets. She went on to say (in a somewhat judgmental way) that she appreciated the fact that her parents didn’t lie to her. That stung. I am guilty of telling my boys about Santa. Not only do I tell Max and Myles about Santa, I threaten to call, text, and email him when they misbehave.
The uncomfortable truth is that I am a liar. But am I wrong?
Some of my fondest childhood memories revolve around Santa Claus and my belief in his existence. I remember being unable to sleep for days leading up to the big day. I could not wait for Santa to arrive. My excitement permeated the atmosphere of our home like the aroma of freshly-baked gingerbread cookies and pine from the tree. I asked my parents on a daily basis if the next day was Christmas. I patiently watched commercials so I could compile my list for Santa. I even tried my best to behave during the preceding month…which was no easy feat. Finally, on Christmas Eve, my five siblings and I would hurry to bed in eager anticipation of waking up to mysteriously find loads of presents underneath the tree. At 5am or earlier, we would bum rush my parents’ room and plead to go downstairs to open our gifts.
It was a magical time and one that lasted only a few short years before, one by one, we sadly realized Santa did not exist and that my parents were the ones providing the gifts. Innocence is fleeting; we were bound to find out. After all only my mom would buy second hand clothes for Christmas! Santa would never do such a thing…everyone knows he only brings brand new gifts.
I want my boys to have those same magical memories. They have their whole lives to realize that we live in a cold world where magic only exists on the silver screen. It will not be long before they realize gifts cost real money and their imperfect parents have a very real budget for their gifts. In the meantime, I love watching the joy on Maxwell’s face as he notices that the Elf of the Shelf has moved each morning. This week, he placed a ball next to the Elf and then said he wanted to see if the Elf would take it with him to the North Pole. I love watching him write his wish list then asking to mail it to Santa. I love hearing him squeal with delight when I tell him that Santa will probably give him yet another random toy he saw when we visited Costco.
Even today I wish I could fully recapture the joy and excitement I felt in anticipation of Christmas. Fortunately, I get to experience a small part of it through my boys. I never thought my parents were liars… But they did lie about Santa. And I thank them for it. Of course, in addition to talking about Santa, they taught me the nativity story. The beauty of it is that my immature mind was able to accommodate both. I am confident that my boys will be able to do so as well.
What are your thoughts? Are parents wrong for telling their kids about Santa?