Christmas,  Motherhood,  Recovering Perfectionist

Dear Moms at Christmastime ~Love, a mom who “doesn’t do Santa”

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I’m sitting here with aching knees because I’ve just spent the last hour on the floor wrapping up 18 Christmas books for my son. We are doing a different kind of “advent Calendar” by reading our way to Christmas.

Dear Moms at Christmastime

I have Christmas music on and the songs come one after another. Here Comes Santa Claus, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and more. I’m wrapping up a great variety of books, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Twas The Night Before Christmas.

My husband and I have decided not to “do Santa” with our three-year-old son. But by that, I simply mean that we aren’t going to buy him presents and tell them that some guy in a suit is giving them to him.

As to why? I could give you a “standard answer” about how “we don’t lie to our kids” but the logic of that answer doesn’t hold up and here’s why:

We have lied to our child before.

When Ezra was about a year and a half old, after watching Thomas, Percy and the Dragon about a million times – he was waking up scared because he saw a shadow on his wall. He thought it was the dragon from the show. So, we concocted an elaborate story about the nice dragon, complete with showing Ezra the castle where the dragon lived.

We’ve also taken Ezra to see Thomas the Tank Engine – a big blue steam engine that doesn’t really exist or talk or do anything like he sees on TV –  but all he knows or cares is that HE got to ride THOMAS!

Have you seen the story about these parents who made November a month of dinosaur fun? I thought it was so awesome I shared it on Facebook. Other people who read the article seemed disconcerted that parents would lie to their kids in such a way.

And that’s when it hit me. Because, while “we don’t do Santa,” we do dragons and big blue engines and think that pretending toy dinosaurs are wrecking your kitchen is pretty cool.

For some reason, Santa is where we’ve quite arbitrarily chosen to draw the line in the sand.

All of this is running through my head while I’m listening to Santa songs and wrapping Santa books…and I’m starting to realize that I’m a pretty big hypocrite – but at the same time I realized that I’m okay with that.

I have a long and complicated history with Christmastime. I’ve actually not celebrated Christmas for four years of my life. I’ve had Christmases that were strictly about time with family and nothing else. Christmases in my teen years where my family partook of communion on Christmas Day. Hard Christmases and happy Christmases. Christmases where my faith in Jesus was refreshed. And yes, even Christmases of my early childhood where I wondered if I heard Santa’s Bells outside my window.

Each Christmas has been beautifully precious to me in its own right.

I’m not going to lie. I am still a very young mom and often struggle with being completely secure in my own parenting choices: doing what works for my family while still learning and gleaning from others – ignoring what other people do or don’t do when it doesn’t work for me. This is a skill I’m learning, but I’m totally not there yet.

I see moms over here doing Jesse Trees and Truth in the Tinsel and over there I see moms with their Elf on the Shelf and photos of their cute kiddos with the fat Santa at the mall. There’s moms who put up a Nativity Scene instead of a tree to make sure to “keep Christ in Christmas” and then there’s moms who can’t wait for their kids to help them put out cookies for Santa.

The internet is flooded with posts from moms defending their choices or urging other moms to make the same choices that they do. It makes me sad and frustrated. Every mom seems to have her own opinions on the holiday and with all of the opinions, sometimes it’s hard for me to hear my own thoughts. I start feeling guilty for this or frustrated that I don’t have energy for that or feeling less-than because I’m not doing that other thing.

Maybe it’s just me and no one else sees this kind of stuff happening or feels this frustration. But I wrote this on the off chance that other young moms are struggling like I am.

I really don’t want how another mom chooses to celebrate Christmastime or Advent with her children become just another thing fueling mommy wars or another thing that makes us feel insecure about our mothering.

Christmastime is an amazing time of year. It’s warm and bright and cheery. It’s the one time of year you can hear songs about Jesus on the radio and in the grocery store and it’s okay. It’s a time of family and food and happy music. It’s a time of silent nights and newborn babies and the wonder of God. With. Us.

And that’s something worth celebrating with your kids.

Dear Moms at Christmastime ~Love, a mom who "doesn't do Santa"

How I celebrate Christmastime and the Advent season with my family might look different than how you celebrate Christmas with your family. And, in my humble opinion, that’s okay.

Celebrating a holiday this special and making it special for my family is so much more important than me worrying that Sally-Sue is telling her kids about Santa or that Jamie-Jo is taking pictures of her Elf on the Shelf or to roll my eyes at Lora-Lee and her upside-down Jesse Tree because I think she’s being holier-than-thou.

Dear Moms: We need a little more Joy to the World and Peace on Earth and less judgment and drama.

Do Santa, don’t do Santa. Have your Elf on the Shelf. Do Truth in the Tinsel and Jesse Tree or read Christmas books to your kids every day. 

Just please, enjoy your Christmastime, your Jesus, and your family. Whatever that means for you. And let all of the other moms who are enjoying their Christmas in their way do the same. Don’t feel threatened by the choices that she makes, and please don’t feel like you have to defend the choices that you make.

Love,

This mom who “doesn’t do Santa” (but doesn’t mind if you do)

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21 Comments

  • Alyce {Blossom Heart Quilts}

    SPOT ON about lying to kids!

    Haha, we are doing Truth In Tinsel for the first time this year! I found it by Googling “Christian Advent activities” last week! Now that the kids are old enough to start to understand what Christmas is about, I wanted to include more to our Advent calendar than just the next piece of our Nativity set (a 24-piece “puzzle”). Except living in Japan, it’s too hard or costly to get resources, so Truth In Tinsel is perfect for our needs.

    And as long as there’s no judgement being cast and a mutual respect for differing opinions, I don’t “mind” what other families do for Advent/Christmas/traditions.

    • Aprille

      I think that Truth in the Tinsel is fabulous and I got to meet the author at Allume and she is so sweet. We did some of the activities last Christmas but he was too young for most of it. This year we aren’t having a tree and I’m just super tired and not motivated to do it. 🙂 and I’m okay with that.

  • Luna (@Heading_West)

    Oh honey. There are a about a zillion posts exactly like this one. And still another two or three hundred zillion of the type you describe. People judge because they’re insecure. Every difference is taken to be an assault on their choices. And no amount of pleading otherwise seems to do a damned bit of good. It’s sad.

    Just last week, my friend told a funny story about her son complaining that he was broke since the penny was phased out (in Canada). I jokingly replied, “Raise that boy’s allowance! :D” Smiley and all. Well. You’d think I suggested beating him for the reaction I got from her and her husband. I was training my kid that he didn’t have to do his fair share unless there was money involved… kids don’t need money! They’ll get a job when they need it, and what a horrible person I am for raising an entitled brat. Bwuh? Okay… I said, “Whoa. Okay. I was joking, and my choice to give my kid an allowance (which is based on nothing, no chores required) was my choice and that no judgement was implied or intended. No response. Nada. I still don’t care if she gives her kid an allowance. Whatever. Her kid, her life, her call. No judgment. Seems it doesn’t go both ways. 🙁 And that’s my friend. It’s so so so much easier to be judgey at strangers and take all our frustrations and insecurities out on them.

  • Sara

    Haha, girl, I planned on doing the Truth in the Tinsel thing this year with Stephen. Here we are on Dec. 2nd, and we haven’t even started. I am too exhausted from making food for S and everything else I have to do. I honestly don’t care if we get to it this year. I’ll be happy if my tree gets decorated, which hasn’t happened yet either. What matters is that Christmas is about Christ. Not how you do it. Love and blessings to you! <3

  • jillene

    Aprille…I have been meaning to text you…I just read this post and I totally agree with you…this is the first christmas.that I am celebrating… I was raised not celebrating it..however I am not doing Santa..but I will bring presents for Christian.. All have the right to do what they want and to each their own… Enjoy celebrate life and Christ and it’s ok in my book! 🙂

    • Aprille

      Your post was linked in a totally different paragraph than the words “judgment and drama.” If you look at all of the links you will see that I looked to multiple posts from multiple perspectives. I didn’t say that any one post was judgmental. I linked to these posts as examples for this statement: “Every mom seems to have her own opinions on the holiday and with all of the opinions, sometimes it’s hard for me to hear my own thoughts.”

      That was my point, and I’m sorry that you misunderstood that.

      I can remove the link if you prefer.

  • brigettekeeney

    I appreciate your insights, but I disagree on a few points. You don’t have to lie to your children to get through childhood, there is always a way to tell them an age appropriate amount of truth. We do let them read about and play pretend with imaginary creatures, and that’s okay, there is nothing wrong with fiction, Jesus himself used parables, the problem is when said fiction contradicts the teaching of scripture. When lying is trivialized for the sake of childhood magic, that’s what I have a problem with. We also don’t tell our kids that dragons and mermaids are real or that dinos come alive during November, it’s a fallacy to assume that because some people lie during make believe that that’s the only way it can be done.

    We don’t do Santa, mainly because of the lying, but also because we have more important things to celebrate on the 25th. We do however do St. Nicholas Day on Dec 6th. We leave little gifts in the kids shoes, but we don’t tell them that St. Nick left them, we tell them that we left them in remembrance of his good works. By separating the days, I feel it’s less confusing for young children and we can keep the focus on Jesus’ birth on Christmas day.

    I wrote an article about not doing Santa, and I stand by it. Just because I express my personal beliefs does not imply that I am judging anyone who doesn’t do what I do. I welcome differing opinions so that we all might learn from each other and experience “iron sharpening iron.” A lot of the time when people feel judged, their own insecurities are at work, and we all have them about certain things, but if you struggle with the comparison game, then that is not other blogger’s fault, that is something personal to work through. (Granted, there are some articles that full on attack, but that is certainly not my aim with the article I wrote and you linked.)

    Best wishes to you and your family, however you celebrate the season. 🙂

    • Aprille

      “It’s a fallacy to assume that because some people lie during make believe that that’s the only way it can be done.”

      I never said that that’s the only way it can be done. What I said that it was how we had approached make believe in other situations.

  • Erica Layne

    Love this, Aprille! What an honest realization, that you (we!) lie to our kids in other ways and that the choice to do or not do Santa may in fact be pretty darn arbitrary. I love your conclusion. Let’s not overthink it, let’s not judge. Let’s just enjoy it, however we choose to celebrate.

  • Mandy

    Refreshingly honest, Aprille. I applaud your wisdom and grace in recognizing that you are in the early years of motherhood, finding the rhythm and personality of your family. I agree–each family has its own way of doing things, especially celebrating holidays. No need to be intimidated to judgmental about those differences 🙂

  • Tiffany

    We also don’t do Santa or plan on doing santa being that our son is 16 months. It’s not so much the lying it’s the fact that we want to keep Christ in christmas and not make it be about some fat guy in a red suit. My parents never did santa with us and I don’t feel as if I lost out on anything. If anything, I actually felt sorry and embarrassed for the kids who did believe in santa. If my son asks about santa when he’s older I will teach him the correlation between santa and jesus. There’s a good seventh day Aventist pin on pinterest that explains it very well. Someone could choose or not choose to do Santa, this is what works for my family and I don’t care what others choose to do though of course we’ve heard crap about it saying we’re taking away the magic from the child. What ever if people believe that then they’re not truly understanding the real meaning of Christmas either. Ps I also can not stand elf on a shelf!

  • peaofsweetness

    We “don’t do Santa,” either. I agree completely with just accepting that families will do things differently, and that’s OK. I was going to write a post about why we, personally, don’t do Santa, but between being sick so much and keeping up with all the reviews (I started another blog to eventually house reviews that aren’t in my niche because they overwhelmed me, and I want to get Pea of Sweetness back to being more content focused), still unpacking, and our new financial crisis, I am not going to get to it. *Sigh*

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