Rediscovered Families

Why Santa Didn’t Visit Our House

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When my first son was born we made the decision that Santa wouldn’t come to our house. This was a difficult decision to explain to others. Family and friends just couldn’t believe we would do such a thing. I understand that it does sound rather Scrooge like, but I honestly don’t believe my boys suffered any lasting damage.

Naturally our decision didn’t have much of an impact until my son was about three. The first couple of years he didn’t really understand about Santa, so it wasn’t an issue.

Then on his third Christmas he began to notice the Santas at the mall and on Christmas paraphernalia. At that point he started to ask questions. I tried to distract him with stories about the original St. Nicholas, but my son could only be sidetracked for so long. Eventually the dreaded question was asked.

“Mom…. is Santa real?”

I took a deep breath and explained that the whole idea of Santa was a nice story, but no it wasn’t real.

There was a very long quiet pause while my son digested this information. I remained calm on the outside, but inside I was freaking out. Mother guilt kicked in big time.

  • I had RUINED my son’s childhood. COMPLETELY RUINED IT!
  • What kind of monster mother was I?
  • How much therapy would it take to undo the damage?

Then my sweet, creative son looked at me and said, “But it makes a great pretend doesn’t it Mommy?

Phew SAVED! Saved by the wisdom of a child.

And pretend we did. We had lots of imaginary trips to the North Pole and my boys accompanied Santa on his trip around the world on several occasions. Still we did not try to hide the fact that Santa was just a story.

one of our imaginary trips on Santa’s sleigh

Through the years each one of my boys solemnly informed me that we were mistaken. That Santa was real and we had got it all wrong. Aren’t children great?

As with so many things there were advantages and disadvantages to our decision. I want to be clear that I am not opposed to the whole Santa thing. Every family needs to make the decision that is right for them. We decided to go the no Santa route.

The advantages

  1. We found it helped manage expectations. As a family we did not have a lot of disposable income. Consequently we could not afford to buy large ticket items for our children. We set limits and talked about them openly to help keep expectations realistic. The trouble is that in a child’s mind Santa has unlimited resources. He can bring anything you want, as long as you are good enough. We didn’t want our children to be disappointed. We didn’t want to try and explain why Santa brought generous gifts to their cousins and not to them.
  2. It helped keep the focus on what is truly important. Although gifts were a part of our celebration we didn’t want them to be the focus. We wanted Christmas to be about love, kindness and time with family. That feeling does not revolve around a jolly man with a white beard and gifts.
  3. There is no need for the dreaded conversation. You know the one when your children realize that Santa isn’t real? You never have to worry about your children making that discovery. It is a non-issue.

The disadvantages

1. It can get you into trouble with other parents. In fact they may get mad, because your child will probably be the one that tells everyone in their class that Santa isn’t real. If my child was the one that ruined the Christmas magic for your family I apologize. I did try to suggest to my boys that it wasn’t a good idea for them to tell everyone that Santa wasn’t real. The reality is that younger children tend to see things in black and white, so my suggestions led to dreadful questions like,

“But Mom, why would parents lie to their children?”

YEEK! Try and answer that one. I’d rather have a root canal!

2. You will miss out on the fun of creating the Santa magic for your children. We did engage in a lot of imaginary play, but it is not quite the same. I would hear other parents talk about the things they did to make it look as if Santa had visited and would feel a pang of envy. It all sounded, sounded so magical. There were times when I wished I could do that for my children.

Every parent has to make the decision about Santa for his or her own children. I don’t think there is a right or wrong decision. You know what is best for your family. Still if Santa does come to your house I would ask you to keep two things in mind.

1. Please don’t emphasize that horrible naughty or nice list. I know it’s tempting to use this threat as Christmas approaches, but I really don’t think it is a good idea. Giving gifts is a way for us to express our love for others. Your children don’t have to be good in order to earn your love. Neither should they have to behave in a certain way in order to be worthy of your love. Having to behave in order to be on the nice list can make some unhelpful associations between performance and worthiness.

2. Keep Santa’s gifts small. If you are going to give some big-ticket items this year please ensure your children understand they come from you. That way no other parents will have to explain to their child why Santa gave them something relatively small, while their classmates, neighbors or friends received far more generous gifts.

Even though Santa didn’t come to our house Christmas was still magical. The season was full of wondrous moments. We have fond memories of the excitement and laughter. The house always seemed to be overflowing with love. And in my mind that is what Christmas is really all about.

I’d love to hear from you. Does Santa come to your house? How did you come to that decision? Please share your comments below.

17 thoughts on “Why Santa Didn’t Visit Our House”

  1. We don’t celebrate Christmas, but when my toddler asked me about Santa at the mall, I told him that it was a man dressed like Santa. I think every family should decide what works best for them, but I like keeping gift-giving minimal. #letkidsbekids

    1. That’s what I would say to my boys, “Oh look there is someone dressed as Santa. What fun!” I too prefer to keep gift giving minimal.

  2. This was a great read, thanks for sharing. Im really struggling with the whole santa thing this year (i blogged about it if u fancy a read…its called ‘this time of year.’) you are completely right, people should decide for themselves how they will deal with this issue. Wish i could decide! #LetKidsBeKids

    1. I read your post and really identify with the mixed emotions. It gets doubly tricky for your family as Christmas has such a strong connections to the Christian faith. I think in the end you just have to go the route that gives you the most peace. It’s not easy is it?

  3. Sara (@mumturnedmom)

    We have done the Santa thing with our kids, but we’ve recently told our eight year old the truth, that Santa isn’t real, but the magic of Christmas is, we just create it ourselves for the people around us. I blogged about it last week (the truth about santa and the elf), and it was a tough decision for us, and part of me has wondered if it would have been better not to have gone down the myth route in the first place. But, we’ve got through telling our oldest successfully, so I am more comfortable with the fact that we’ll have to do it again in a few years with our younger two! #letkidsbekids

    1. “Santa isn’t real, but the magic of Christmas is, we just create it ourselves for the people around us” what a beautiful comment. Thank you 🙂 I tried to find your blog post, but couldn’t see it on your blog. Could you provide a link? I’d like to read it.

  4. Natalie Alleblas

    You make some very valid points Sharon, in particular when children compare their gifts with those of others. I remember when we had to tell our brother about Santa, and that was one of the reasons why- he started wondering why he wasn’t getting expensive toys and gadgets like his friends were.
    There are so many non-Santa aspects of Christmas that make the holiday so magical and special. I love that you continued to “pretend” that he was real anyway! That’s wonderful! 🙂

    1. It is difficult when children compare Santa’s gifts eh? Going the pretend route was a marvelous compromise for us.

  5. Very interesting read. I must confess, I like the santa thing, as long as we all still focus on the family and giving which is why we are doing a kindness act every day this month. It’s a tough decision, but a very personal one I think.
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids

    1. I agree it is a very personal decision that each family has to make for themselves. I love the fact that you are engaging in acts of kindness. It makes for lots of Christmas magic!

  6. I never did directly address the whole “Santa” issue. On Christmas Eve, one unwrapped, small, present was left under the tree for each person who was in the house that year. For my son, it was usually a Hot Wheel, for me, a book, for my husband, a tool. For the extended family that came in an out over the years, there was always something small, something that was obvious who it was intended for, that appeared under the tree between the time everyone else went to sleep and the first person woke up on Christmas morning.

  7. Sharon, I’m so glad to see someone explore this subject in public. It reminded me that I had decided when I was eighteen that I would never give the Santa myth to my future children. As a college freshman, I shared my conviction with my room- and suite-mates, who were happy to tell me I was mean (maybe they included “idiot”). In a sense, the joke was on me, as I was destined not to have children. Still, I love that you and some others actually do give careful consideration to the topic. And you embraced magic with your children in the Christmas seasons, anyway.

    Now that the shelf elf has arrived in a big way, I’m wondering how you feel about him/her/them. I’ve heard some parents say that a major aspect of these elves is to encourage (shall we say) behaving in only “good” ways.

    Blissings,

    ~ Dena

    1. Personally I think the official Elf on the Shelf is one of the creepiest toys I have ever seen! I would definitely get a different elf if I were going to use it. I don’t like the whole idea of using the elf to encourage “good behavior.” I’ve heard of some sensitive children being very upset by that. Take a look at this post http://kooperscoop.blogspot.ca/2014/11/the-dreaded-elf-on-shelf.html On the other hand I have some friends whose elf gets up to all kinds of mischief. The other day it wound toilet paper all over the living room and around the tree. I think that is fun, but what a lot of work!

  8. Thank you Sharon, for this post. I also prefer to keep gift giving minimal. I wanted to tell my children that there was no Santa but my husband wouldn’t have it. We agreed that Santa could bring one gift. Since our budget for gifts was small this protected us from not being able to give gifts from us. When my eldest daughter asked if Santa was real (at age 8), I was honest and told her the truth. She promptly told her younger brother but neither wanted to tell the youngest ! Funny. So Santa did continue to bring 1 gift until the youngest turned 10. Since then, we draw names and have a gift exchange of 1 gift. Of course, the kids would love to receive more but they don’t make a fuss about it. It keeps this time of year much more enjoyable without the pressures of gift giving. We do share a lot of food though! LOL

    1. I love that both your older children didn’t want tell the youngest about Santa! I really like the idea of a simple Christmas. For me it puts the focus back on what is really important. We also share a lot of food 🙂 I my family food has always been an important part of any celebration. I have noticed that our food is getting healthier every year though.

  9. Santa comes to our house. He came to my house growing up as well as my husband’s. It is a decision for each family to make. I don’t know how long my son will believe. He is already asking a lot of questions and is only 4. Thanks for sharing your reasons why and thanks for linking up with Mummy Mondays. #TeamMM

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