In Which an Over-Thinker Explains Why She’s Not Doing Santa with Her Kids…
Some people are just thinkers. They ponder eternity, existence and theology. They love to philosophize and find meaning that colors the world their eyes see and the way life is lived from the core.
That’s me 110% in case you haven’t picked up on that yet. 😉
The opposite would be a fun-loving and practical-minded mom. She seeks to know what it means to live God’s way and walks it out in freedom, without overthinking it.
This deeply-introspective and reflective aspect of my personality is exactly why I sweated the decision of whether or not to incorporate Santa into our family Christmas tradition. For the years in between the birth of our oldest daughter and the Christmas when she would finally be old enough to know the difference, I felt unsettled.
Well, that day finally came. Last Christmas my daughter was officially 3 1/2 years old.
If I was going to do Santa, I needed to do Santa or he would not be a thing in her life. (My husband was good with whatever I decided.) These were officially the “golden Santa years.”
As Christmas day grew closer, I finally reached my decision. I couldn’t do it. The trade off just wasn’t worth it for me.
I can’t even begin to describe how much peace I have with that decision!
I would love to share my thoughts on the matter, but I do have one disclaimer:
[disclaim]I don’t share this to give you guilt or take away your freedom. You know your own heart in this, and I have seen Santa celebrated in families with total innocence, fun and love. I trust that. [/disclaim]
I am not even joking when I say, I’ve been sitting on this post for a year, trying to decide if there’s any value in publishing it. I questioned it because, a) I’m an over-thinker, and b) I don’t want to cast a shadow on your fun!
My purpose in sharing this is honestly to give freedom not do Santa to those of you who feel led in that direction. Because that’s okay too, despite the pressure you may feel from friends, family, society and every stranger who asks your child what Santa brought him. 🙂 Some of you might need that permission to find your freedom.
I also want to reassure you that Christmas can still be EXCEEDING special without this fantasy, but not to say it can’t be special with it!
Okay, with all that in mind, here we go.
Why I Have Peace with a Santa-less Christmas
1. Release from Guilt
The thought of misleading my children about this matter makes my chest tighten and stomach flop even now. In other words, as a matter of conscious, it’s not the right thing for me to do.
Speaking about the eating of food formerly sacrificed to idols, Romans 14:23 says,
“But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.”
I just don’t feel comfortable with it, even though it’s socially accepted.
This as a personal conviction. I know others who definitely don’t feel this way, and I’m happy for them.
I have personally had total release from anxiety over the issue with my decision not to do Santa.
2. Jesus Takes Center Stage
If you’re a Christ-follower like me, you know the profound, deep, awe-inspiring, joyful reason for the holiday. It’s Jesus. His birth and life. The unimaginable love that God displayed when He became one of us. Emmanuel.
You may not agree, but I deeply know that the truth of Jesus is enough for my children on Christmas. He doesn’t need backup for them to care about the day.
And in fact, I don’t want anyone else vying for their attention. I know if I were a child (as I once was…) I would choose Santa on which to set my heart. What child wouldn’t?
So on our quiet family Christmas morning last year, we woke up, snuggled up on the couch together, and read and talked about the story of Jesus’ birth as told in a sweet children’s book.
We talked about why we were giving gifts, to show our love to each other, just as Jesus gave Himself to us on that day to show His love. Just as the wise men gave gifts to Jesus to show their love.
We ate our traditional homemade cinnamon rolls, but not before blowing out a candle to acknowledge Jesus’ birthday and singing Him a birthday song.
Finally, we proceeded to presents…
3. Gift-Giving Becomes an Investment in Relationships, Not a Fantasy
I know a lot of families find middle ground with this one (some gifts from Santa, some from family members), but I love watching our children receive our love through gift giving, and I don’t want to give Santa any piece of that action!
We don’t buy our kids many new things… at all. Almost never. This is for financial reasons and character reasons. We don’t want to spoil them, but rather want them to appreciate what they have and be content with less.
But at Christmas, I delight in giving them a few special, well-thought-out gifts. This is something I want to do because I love them.
And getting credit for those gifts is not overrated! Gifts given from mom and dad deposit precious coins in their love banks. It can be life-giving. I want that for our relationship!
Speaking of relationships, nixing Santa opened up the door for a more relational emphasis overall I felt.
With help, our daughter had also prepared gifts to give to other family members, some handmade, some store bought, and all of them backed with lots of enthusiasm!
She was able to have an equal part in our Christmas morning, taking ownership of the gifts she had prepared and delighting in giving them. It made my heart so happy to see that sweet giving spirit surface even while unwrapped packages awaited her. She was able to dive right in to the day because there was nothing mystical going on, but rather something of which she felt she could be fully a part.
So, there you have it! I’m not trying to be controversial or stress you out in any way! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas morning, however you choose to celebrate.
Thanks for reading!
How do you handle Santa in your family?
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My favorite things about this post was your over thinking and only remembering to take one photo at Christmas!! #reallifewithkids
Ha ha! It is so true!
Hi Katie, thanks for your post. My oldest is 2.5 years old, so I still have one more year to make a final decision. Our family doesn’t celebrate Halloween… so I was thinking we should do the whole Santa thing so we aren’t known as the ” no-fun party poopers” to the grandparents and extended family. I was going to have my husband tell the Santa lie though because it’s a conscious thing for me too. What does your family do for Halloween?
I also wanted to add that your daughter is so beautiful (in this photo)!
Thank you so much for your post on choosing not to do Santa Claus in your family. My oldest is now 3.5 so this is our make or break year. I never mention Santa to our daughter but family members always talk about Santa and try to tell her about him then I’m given a guilt trip when I explain that he is not a part of our celebration or Jesus’s birthday. I pray I find my voice!
That’s a hard situation, but at the end of the day, it’s so important to follow our own convictions. Bless you!
Hi Katie. Thank you for the post. I understand your hesitation. My children ages, 21, 18, and 15 did not grow up with Santa. We chose not to confuse them and to put the focus where it truly belongs at CHRISTmas! We also give gifts of Gold (something of value to them because they are valuable to us), Frankincense (something to encourage their relationship with God) and Myrrh (something to care for their bodies-the temple). We read about each gift one at a time, its historical significance as well as where it comes from, etc. and then pass that gift out to each child. The paper used to wrap each gift is significant as well: gold for the gold gift, white for the frankincense gift and a mossy/earthy brown for the myrrh gift. There is such a calm, sweet spirit when the gifts are received and opened. God is honored and praised, which is our family goal. Blessings!
Thank you Diedre. That is so encouraging. I love to hear from someone who has done this with gladness and is on the other side, knowing it was the right choice. You’re gift giving strategy sounds sooo beautiful and special! We may do that as the kids get older. Thanks for sharing!
I agree – we chose not to do Santa Claus in our house (we have kids between 2 and 9). I haven’t regretted it one bit and our kids haven’t missed him at all. I just couldn’t do it – my conscience didn’t let me either. I have wonderful memories of celebrating Santa Claus as a child, but we have found ways to make wonderful memories for our kids at Christmas time keeping the focus on Jesus!
That is me TOTALLY. I believed in Santa as a child, and it was magical, but since it’s a matter of conscious, my task is to make Christmas special for my kids anyway. It’s kind of a lot of pressure!
I agree so much! I overthink things too, and then have to try to write concisely on the blog without feeling like I have to explain every little thing. It can be a challenge 😉
We choose not to do Santa either, for similar reasons. I really like what you said about wanting to emphasize relationships through gift giving. I am with you on that one. I want to celebrate all together with the gifts we give and I want my kids to know that gifts are an expression of OUR love!
Yes! Being concise is my greatest writing challenge! Thanks Lisa. 🙂
I seriously love everything you write. I think we have the same over-thinking mindset and just want to do whats best for our family and what God has called us to do even if it’s counter-cultural or unpopular. I’m so glad I found your blog, seriously. I don’t always agree with most bloggers posts 100%, and like a rational human can agree to disagree. But I’m with you on this completely! Thank you for sharing your heart, your views, and a glimpse into an alternate way to celebrate Jesus’ birth than what’s popular right now. My son is 2 1/2 so this decision is coming around for us pretty soon, if not already. Our extended family does Santa big, so we have a lot of controversy in our decisions to do things differently with our kids. Trying to figure out the best way to keep our beliefs, but still be gracious to those in the extended family (granparents, adult siblings) who want to celebrate with Santa. Any tips on how to have that conversation with the other adult family members? I would love to read that blog post!
Aw, thanks Alicia! That is so cool! The funny thing is, I can totally relate to the extended family graciousness quandary too! What I’ve ended up doing is to let the extended family members say whatever they want to about Santa. I haven’t expressed wishes for them not to, and I stand by smiling when they assure my kids Santa will bring them gifts in a sleigh, etc, because I know they have good intentions. But, my kids will never hear me tell them Santa is real and as the parent I will not personally create the illusion of Santa. Also, the day they ask me what the deal is, will be the day they learn the truth. Up until now I haven’t made a big point to say that Santa is pretend because they haven’t asked. They might have some confusion about it. I’m sort of biding my time, because I can still follow my convictions without raining on the grandparents’ parade totally. As far as it depends on me, I’m going to be honest, but I’m not worried about them having some confusion at this early stage. That’s what I’ve come to.
Thank you for your response! Very thoughtful approach! I like that idea, and I’m going to implement that this year. I will keep following your posts as your kids get older and see how it progresses (preventing your kids from telling other kids that Santa is not real, etc.) I have all these questions! Your oldest is a little older than mine, so I’ll see how it works out for you, and learn to do what you do! Thanks for your honesty!
Thank you for having the courage to not do Santa. I never grew up with him and I turned out fine. Whenever someone would ask what Santa brought me, I would reply that I knew he wasn’t real and that my gifts were from my parents. These people would honestly give my parents a look like I was being abused. One person said about my brother, ” That little boy doesn’t believe in Santa! That’s so sad.” I have always been against Santa but something I read last year really put it in perspective. It said something along the lines of, ” You teach children about Santa and Jesus. Both can see you at all times even though you can’t see them. You just have to have faith and believe in them. When the child realizes that Santa is make believe, what are they going to think about Jesus?” I do not have children yet. I do not judge families that do choose to do Santa. I wish that those families would choose to do the same with me when I have kids. I have a feeling I will be getting the “your abusing your kids” look, though.
Thanks Amber! I’m glad you have conviction about what you want to do and why, because it was something I sweated a lot leading up to my final decision. Many blessings to you!