Parenting Perspectives: Santa, Baby? Our Family Ponders Including Kris Kringle in Our Christmas Traditions

Parenting Perspectives |

My husband and I talk a fair amount about what values we want to instill in our children.  Of course, we want them to value the same (good) things that we do, and we feel it is our duty as parents to raise them with those in mind, knowing full well that they are individuals with free will to accept or reject our values as they see fit.

A big part of that for us are traditions and rituals, especially around the holidays.

At Thanksgiving, is it all about who can eat the most, or do we stay focused on being grateful for the many blessings we have received throughout the year?

For us, December is about Advent and preparing for Christmas.  Christmas is about the birth of Jesus and lasts from December 25 through the Epiphany, the celebration of the three kings coming to find the Christ child.

Because of this, my husband and I have gone back and forth on the idea of Santa Claus.  We’ve been discussing this for almost five years now, and still we have no set conclusion.

Santa, Baby?  |

Santa, Baby?

When our first son was born, we just assumed Santa would be a part of our Christmas traditions, because we had both grown up with him: the classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the island of misfit toys, visiting Santa at the local senior citizens center (when the goodie bag was still peanuts and a Red Delicious apple), and presents appearing magically under the tree when we returned home from visiting grandparents (how did Santa know that we had been gone?!).

It never occurred to us that there might be another option until a family shared with us that they never “did Santa” with their kids growing up.

What?!  These seemed like normal, happy, well-adjusted members of society.  Certainly they couldn’t be opting out of the North Pole?

I immediately had questions.  Mainly, what do you tell your children when the other kids at school share about Santa visiting their homes?  How do you keep your kids from breaking the news to their small friends?  And what do you tell people when you’re living in such a radical way?!  (I mean, no Santa? Might as well start handing out toothbrushes at Halloween while you’re at it.)

But this is something we’ve toyed around with.  Not because we’re anti-St. Nick.  I think he has a place in the magic of the Christmas season.  But because we worry that it can become too much of a focus for not just our children, but for us adults as well.

When does the fun and whimsy of hiding gifts and repositioning elves turn into a preoccupation with consumer goods and having to impress the other Pinterest mommies?  How do we keep the joy of sharing thoughtful presents with our loved ones without making it the center of our celebration?  How can we instill meaningful traditions while avoiding the tantrums and whining (from the grown-ups) that can creep out when those same traditions require rearranging?

Unfortunately, we haven’t found a real clear answer yet.

We’ve thrown around the idea of including Santa in our Christmas, but being upfront from the beginning as to his true status; this way the kids are involved in the make-believe and can even be his helpers, without having to do away with the magic entirely.

But we’re running out of time.

My oldest informed me the other day that we should leave our front door unlocked for Santa, even though we have a chimney.  Just in case.  I took the opportunity to probe for more info.

“Is Santa Claus a real person?” I asked him.


“Is Big Bird a real person?”  “No,” he answered matter-of-factly.

“How do you know that?”

“Just because. He’s pretend.”  Pause.  “Is Santa pretend too, Mama?”

Uh-oh, we’ve just gone too far.  Enter the avoidance approach.

Which has thus-far been our mode, but we know we need an answer, or the rest of his little world will decide it for him.

How have you handled the tradition of Santa in your family?  Any tips or tricks to guide us? Send me an email at or connect with me on Facebook at to share your wisdom.

Wishing you holidays and meaningful traditions filled with blessings and love, from my crazy family to yours.

Santa, Baby?  |


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