L will be 7 months old on Christmas Eve, and though I'm sure she will have lots of fun on Christmas this year it really doesn't matter what kinds of things we do, since she will of course never remember. But starting next year, and then forever after that, we're going to have to make a decision about what to tell our daughter regarding the fat man in the red suit who sees you when you're sleeping.
I feel really conflicted about Santa Claus. On the one hand, there's so much magic to be had in the holiday season -- you really can't beat the delight on children's faces when they see that the cookies they left out have been eaten, their stockings have been filled, and a little elf has been leaving footprints and eating donuts all around their house. On the other hand, there's the whole lying to your kid thing. And as the wife of someone who spent 6 years getting a Ph.D. in applied ethics, that's no small potatoes.
I vividly remember the day my father sat my brother and me down to tell us that Santa Claus wasn't real -- I can almost still feel the heat rising up in my cheeks from the pain and embarrassment of discovery. I vowed to myself that I would never put my own children through such torture, so I just wouldn't ever start the whole Santa myth -- and then I found out that other people's parents never had these kinds of conversations with them. Yep, that's my family...
my brother and me, before our childhoods were ruined by the truth
I read in Real Simple magazine recently about one mom's response to her children when they started asking about whether Santa was just a hoax. "If you believe in him," she told them, "he brings you presents. If you don't, he won't." She says her adult children still believe in Santa Claus.
The other complicating factor, though, is that my husband is Jewish, and we're raising L in his faith tradition. He actually grew up celebrating Christmas (his father's family was Christian) and so we will, too, but in a very different way than I did growing up as the daughter of a minister. We're still trying to hash out the details of what we will and won't do, and Santa is a sticking point. If we don't end up going with the Santa + chimney story, I'm worried about the following: L tells her preschool friends that Santa isn't real and they go home crying. L's preschool friends come back and tell her that Santa comes to their house but not to hers because she is Jewish. L puts two and two together that, if Santa brings toys to "good boys and girls," little Jewish kids must not be good. And my darling child has her first neurotic breakdown at age 4.
me, a true Santa believer and dolly lover, age 2
So, what to do? Our answer right now is, of course, we'll figure it out later. But later seems to be coming a lot sooner than it used to!
How about the rest of you -- any guilt over lying to your own kids? Sad memories of finding out the truth about Santa as a child? Firm convictions about what you'll tell your kids when you have them someday? Let me know!