I want to have my fruitcake and eat it too.
Rather, I want to celebrate all of the Santaesque traditions of Christmas with my son—having his photo taken with Santa, setting out milk and cookies (and carrots), and pretending we can hear reindeer on the rooftop—without having to one day tell him Santa isn’t real and we’ve been fibbing this whole time.
On the other hand, I don’t want my son to be the kid on the playground sending other kids into tailspins when he tells them Santa is fake. I also don’t want to be that kid’s parent.
We’ve got a couple years, maybe longer, before this becomes a pressing issue. Jack just turned three months old; he’s got other things to worry about this holiday season, like learning how to sit up unassisted. But I do think what we do this year will begin to set the precedent for future years, so the issue has been on my mind. And though my brain leans towards not pretending that Santa is real, my hand that clicks the button that makes the online purchases leans opposite—evidenced by the Santa Advent calendar we just purchased from Pottery Barn; and the stocking with Jack’s name embroidered on it above the Santa and Rudolph caricatures; and the Santa figurines on the tree, table, pillows, candles, nightlight, hand towels, pajamas, everything.
Which begs the question: how do you maintain the spirit and traditions of Santa without maintaining that Santa is a real live man who lives in the North Pole and flies around the world one night a year to deliver toys to girls and boys, even those who do not have chimneys and fireplaces? How do you make Santa be a part of it but not all of it? Can you? I don’t know the answers to these questions. I’m hoping someone does.
For now, we’ll play it by ear. We’ll probably go see the mall Santa because it’s my first Christmas as a mom and I want to do all the cliché holiday things, which includes buying an overpriced photo of my most precious treasure crying on some strange man’s lap. We’ll (I’ll) also bake cookies that we’ll (I’ll) set out on Christmas Eve and Santa (my husband) will eat by morning. I might even sign a few gift tags from the big man himself. We’ll make-believe and figure it out as we go, which has been our approach to parenting so far anyway.
Parents out there, how have you broached the issue of Santa with your kids? Do you have any regrets? Words of wisdom for a first-timer?