Why We’re Taking a Neutral Stance on the Great Santa Debate

Taking a Neutral Stance on the Great Santa DebateWe don’t “do Santa” at our house … but we also don’t “not do Santa” either. It’s complicated, so let me explain.

I grew up in a home where we went hard for Santa. All of my childhood Christmases were filled with the magic of jolly old St. Nick. Every year we made Christmas wish lists and visited Santa to convey to him our hearts desires and to let him know that he could expect extra cookies and carrots for his reindeer when he stopped by our house … cause you know … we weren’t above a little holiday brown-nosing. Every Christmas Eve we went to bed in anticipation of Santa’s visit and every Christmas morning under the tree, amidst the presents from our parents, were those delivered directly from Santa himself. In addition, there were sooty footprints and nibbled carrots and cookies … and don’t forget about that almost-empty milk glass. We believed with the sweet innocence that only children can believe with and it really was truly magical. I always dreamed of sharing these same memories with my own children one day.

My husband on the other hand? Well, he didn’t come from a family of “believers.” I’ve never pinpointed exactly why they didn’t do the whole Santa thing, but they just didn’t. It’s just as well, because I’m pretty sure my husband wouldn’t have been the type of kid who believed for long anyway. He’s way too practical for his own good, so the idea of a bearded man dropping off toys all over the world in a 24-hour span of time? He would’ve started poking holes in that plot right away. He always said that he wouldn’t perpetuate the myth of Santa with his future children. Besides, as he sees it … why should Santa get all the credit for the presents we buy with our hard-earned money?

Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? A Santa/Christmas magic loving wife and a semi-Grinchy non-believer … it’s not exactly ideal. The Great Santa Debate” was one we fought over many times over the years as we discussed hypothetical child-rearing philosophies. Both of us were firm in the idea that we would/wouldn’t include Santa in our Christmas traditions. It seemed we were at a stale mate, unable to think of a solution that would make both of us happy. And then we actually had kids and the hypotheticals turned into realities. What would we do?

Well, as it turns out … nothing. Without really meaning to, we’ve sort of become like the Switzerland of Christmas: neutral and diplomatic. That’s what I meant earlier when I said we don’t “do Santa,” but we don’t “not do Santa” either and it’s actually not as complicated as you might think. We don’t purchase gifts “from Santa” and we don’t really play it up, but we also don’t totally ignore him altogether. We basically treat Santa like any other fun holiday tradition. We get pictures taken with him, and read books, and watch movies, and sing songs about him … everything minus the presents. It’s still fun for our kids, but neither my husband nor I, has to completely give up our feelings on the subject. We don’t tell our kids that there is OR isn’t a Santa … they can decide that on her own one day. For now, I’m actually pretty sure our daughter just thinks of him as another character like the ones at Disneyland … which is still totally cool with her.

Sometimes it bums me out a little to think that my children might never truly experience that same unwavering belief in jolly old St. Nick that shaped my own childhood, but overall I feel good about our decision. It’s encouraged me to find ways to focus on the true spirit of the season instead of just presents, which my husband and I both agree is important and it’s actually worked out quite well, because my daughter seems to be way more into Baby Jesus than Santa anyway. He’s kind of like a celebrity around here (you should have seen her starstruck face when we took her to a living nativity last weekend. Mind. Blown.).

In the end, the best part about the holiday season is the tradition and togetherness anyway and we can still have that with our neutral stance. We can still visit Santa at the mall, leave out cookies and milk and carrots for the reindeer and sing songs about him coming to town. Maybe there will be no wish list making or packages with “From: Santa” written on them, but we’ll make our own memories and enjoy this season for all of the things it has to offer.

Image courtesy of Lauren Hartmann

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