Sunday, November 20, 2005

To make believe or not make believe....

In the Jolly old man I mean...

This is the dilemma that we are now facing as the holidays come up…

Like you have read (or maybe not) in my profile, I am an Atheist and so is Simon… we celebrate the holidays and Xmas because it is something that is traditional in our household and we believe that there is a certain magic to Xmas and we don’t want to leave it behind. We also don’t see anything religious about Xmas either… (Besides the name)

Santa Clause is an icon of Xmas that I have not always been comfortable with… I have always seen Santa as being a lie and I don’t want to lie to my children but on the other hand I like the magic of the stories of St. Nick…

At this moment Xavier believes in Santa just because that is what he is learning from his environment… this is what the kids around him are led to believe and what the other adults that he knows tell him…

Simon and I are still at a loss of what to do… do we tell him about the magic of the season and the origins of all the stories and symbols… or do we make him believe in something that is just a lie… Do we have him write to Santa so that he can get a letter back for his scrapbook and have presents under the tree from Santa or do we just tell him right away that there is no such thing… or do we let others talk about it, not say a word, not encourage it, not lie but not tell the truth and let his imagination do the rest… isn’t that as bad as lying though?

I would really love to have ideas from others…

Can the magic of Christmas be without the lie of the jolly old guy?

7 Comments:

Blogger Kim said...

Hi Paxye! We are going throught his same decision now and we have the same concerns as you do (I also hate the way parents use Santa Claus to manipulate their kids to be "good" or "Santa won't bring you presents!"). He's 2 and 1/2 years old and so this year is really the first year he'll be exposed to the whole santa thing (the past 2 years I don't think he really absorbed much about santa claus!). I recently talked to a friend who handles it this way (and it seems like a good middle ground to me)...he doesn't lie and tell his kids that Santa is a real person who brings presents, etc...he tells them that Santa is "the spirit of Christmas"...the spirit of magic and giving and recieving. He tells them stories of the real St.Nick and other true Christmas tales. And he never says that Santa bring the presents...in fact, he makes no mention of who the presents are from at all. He simply allows his kids the pleasure of recieving. And he instills also the pleasure of giving to others and tries to make Christmas about that and not so focused on a fictional character. We're looking forward to instilling that joy of the season in Jack this year and the years to come. I feel good about portraying Santa in this way...I don't want to lie to my child, but I also want him to experience the fun in stories of Santa and reindeer and elves (letting him know theyre just stories of course) but also know the true spirit of Christmas.

11/20/2005 04:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess my thoughts on the subject are that millions upon millions of people who were taught to believe in Santa as a child, have grown up and become good, productive, moral citizens of plant earth who don't resent their parents for lying to them. I also think a big key to the "magic" of Christmas is having something truly "magical" happen on Christmas morning - like presents being delivered by a jolly fat man who slid down your chimney.
I have watched many neices and nephews (my kids aren't old enough yet) go through the experience of discovering the truth about Santa. They were all allowed to figure it out for themselves, and then delighted in the joy of creating that SAME magic that they experienced, for their younger siblings - thus learning the true intent behind Christmas.

11/20/2005 06:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Todd Tyrtle said...

Hi there,

We believe in Christ and Santa Claus in much the same way. Neither is particularly supernaturally empowered and both are probably based on people who actually exist and whose message is often perverted by people to promote their own ends.

That said, our whole family believes in the coming of winter. We celebrate winter solstice - we don't do a pagan celebration but we do decorate with lights, snowflakes and other natural imagery - trees, snowpersons, etc. About the time of the solstice there is a festival in Kensington Market - the Kensington Festival of Lights that is a total blast. Unlike a christmas parade there is no santa but last year there was samba. The costumes were incredible and the dancing around the huge bonfire at the end is fun to watch. I tried to find photos from last year's but had no luck. There are some from 2003 here.

On solstice morning Sage and I have hid Paul's gifts throughout the house with clues given so that he can be led to them. As we're early risers we also try to watch the sun rise over Lake Ontario - as far south as it will rise in the year.

There is a ton to celebrate about the season - lots to get excited about - and you don't have to use old traditions either - pick and choose from the ones you like and make your own holiday.

11/20/2005 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger K said...

Paxye -- interesting question. Not a dilemma for us -- H is only 1 and we're not troubled about telling him lies (eg, Elmo is dead -- just kidding! LOL!)

Anyhoo -- just want to share the following:

One of my college friends is Jewish yet her family does all the Santa stuff. Indeed, their kids even receive Chanukah presents from Santa. She did not want her kids growing up thinking a fat, gentile elf had it in for them.


Kelly

11/20/2005 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger paxye said...

Kim...
I have been thinking along those lines quite a bit... I want to have the stories without making him necessarily believe... I guess it is hard because of the outside influences... Like I said he already believes in Santa and we have never mentioned it...
I also hate the way that parents use Santa against the kids as a manipulation tool... It is awful.. Especially when the kids find out that it wasn't true and the parents were just manipulating them...
I really think we are going to talk about the spirit of the season and include all of the stories and icons that we have in the season… (Santa, tree etc)
I think it will be fun to teach all of the origins of the icons and use them to make the season magical…

Todd…
I have a friend that celebrates in a very similar way… I like it also…. The Kensington Festival of Lights sounds amazing!!! I wish we had thing like that in our area… but in rural catholic Quebec it is not something that is easy to find ;) I love the idea of the hunt of gifts…. I have always loved that tradition… With my mom (at birthdays) gifts are given all throughout the day at random moments (always with the biggest at the end) and that is another thing that I really enjoyed….

Anonymous…
I understand your point (as it is that of many people that I know) but lying to my children is not something that I will do… (I don’t understand the talk about “good, productive, moral citizens of plant earth” though)
Anyways…I have a mother that lied, didn’t keep promises and was, is and can be very manipulative and I did resent her… She was one of those that used Santa as a manipulation tool…. And then one Xmas we didn’t have much money and she used it against me… also in most French-Canadian families that I know including ours, presents are opened at midnight…So I really didn’t see the magic of Santa as a child…

Not to mention…. Does anyone else find it creepy that a Fat Old man breaks into your house in the middle of the night?

Anyways…

I really want to give my kids a magical season without lying to them… I think we are going to talk about the magic of the season… talk about the stories and traditions behind the traditional icons and make our own traditions also….
I really do want them to experience that ‘magic’ of waking in the morning to presents under the tree, something that I had never experienced… but I don’t think that it needs to include Santa….
Like Simon was saying last night also… there are so many stories that represent Santa to begin with that use different icons (such as “Twas the night”… represents Santa as being miniature etc) that is easier in a sense to just talk about and tell the stories then try to make believe…
I think in the long run the magic will stay longer if we do it that way because it won’t disappear when the truth comes out… it will remain throughout the years…

11/21/2005 08:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Todd Tyrtle said...

Sage was crushed when she found out the truth about Santa. She felt betrayed that her dad would lie to her for so long.

Another alternative is that you could be totally up front about the tradition - that Santa is a game parents play with kids. Paul wasn't interested in the Santa game but was very into the Tooth Fairy tradition and so we still do it though he knows that the money came from us. Still magical and fun but doesn't require lying. Also with Santa it is helpful because Paul now knows that some other kids parents play a different version of it where they kids don't know it isn't real. He "plays along" and doesn't anger other parents by giving away the secret.

11/22/2005 09:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Jan Andrea said...

We were in the same quandry. I was adamant that we wouldn't "do" Santa Claus -- it seemed like a cruel thing to do to a kid.

But when Stephen was 4 (last year), *everyone* started talking to him about SC. And you know, we started thinking, this could be fun! I remember the sheer magic of waking up on Christmas morning (despite my parents being atheists, we celebrated xmas in a secular, gifty sort of way) and opening our stockings, plus the extra presents from SC that hadn't been there the night before.

I was also crushed when I found out about Santa, but you know, I got over it. And it helped me to understand why so many people believe in God -- it's a comforting illusion. If we hadn't had Santa as a real, personal example, I might not have understood so well. (Or I might have, who knows, but I don't think it was harmful in the long run for me.)

11/22/2005 10:08:00 PM  

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