I was raised in a mixed religion household. My mother was an observant Catholic, my dad a lapsed Lutheran turned atheist. My mom’s religion won out and my sister and I attended Catholic mass every Sunday of our childhoods unless we were dead or dying, even when we were on vacation. I was baptized and (by choice) confirmed Catholic and then even worked at a Catholic school after college. But for reasons that do not need to be discussed here, I no longer identify as Catholic, and my son will not be raised in the Catholic Church.
My husband was raised an unobservant Jew. He didn’t attend Temple or fast during holy days, but his family celebrated all the major Jewish holidays. We had a conundrum when it came to deciding what to do with our child, because we wanted him to be raised in a faith community, but neither of us really had one.
So we started trying new religions. First we tried Episcopalian, because it resembled what I grew up with, without actually being the Catholic Church. It didn’t feel right, even after several weeks. So we moved onto a reform Jewish temple, and immediately we both knew we were where we wanted to be. I won’t pretend for a minute that as someone raised a Christian, that there aren’t some internal conflicts with Judaism, but I have never felt so at home in a house of worship as I did there. And though it isn’t a perfect fit, my faith seems to be best housed there. And my husband felt the same. And so after much consideration, we decided to raise our child as a Jew. (A very relaxed reform Jew, since technically by the rules of Judaism, because I’m not Jewish, he isn’t either.)
As Eli’s first holiday seasons is upon us, we’re encountering issues we hadn’t fully considered. For example, while we plan to celebrate Chanukah only in our house, my family still celebrates Christmas and would like to have us there as we have done in years past. And my sister just had a baby, so Eli has a cousin that is 5 months younger than him who will be celebrating Christmas at the same time.
So here’s the problem: what do we do about Santa?
Our original plan was to not do Santa, though we would still celebrate Christmas with my family. I don’t see anything wrong with my child going to family gatherings and getting/giving gifts on Christmas. But Santa. I just, I don’t know. My husband says he never had trouble keeping the secret from his classmates, but I’m worried about the possibility of my son unintentionally ruining Santa for my niece at a very young age.
Do we push further against the religion we are raising our son in and allow Santa into our lives, or do we just explain to him that he can’t ruin it for his cousin and hope that he understands and allows her to enjoy the fun?
Have any of you had to manage this Santa situation and if so, what did you decide to do?