A tale of two Christmases

November 30, 2011 by Cara Bailey
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*Disclaimer: The following blog is not for believing eyes 

Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, pro wrestling.

All of these things have something in common, and I think you know where I’m going with this. There is a certain imaginative quality about each. A figure of youthful, wishful innocence.

Some believe, some do not. I happen to fall into the latter category, and I always have. Before you start throwing silver bells and beating me with candy canes, let me explain.

When I was a young elf, my parents made the decision to be open and not to mislead their children about the existence of Kris Kringle. I grew up in a Christian household, but Christmas was not a religious holiday. It was, and continues to be, a time where we celebrate family and friends. We exchange gifts, eat special treats and just enjoy each other.

Christmas was flexible. We always visit my mother’s side of the family on Christmas Eve, but the rest is up in the air. Sometimes my immediate family would exchange one gift a day, from Christmas until New Year’s. Sometimes we would do everything on Christmas Eve. Trees were not always included. One year we made Thanksgiving our big holiday. Whatever we did, it was what WE wanted, to create a most joyful experience.

Our gifts came from our loved ones, and we knew that and were grateful. The man whose belly shakes like a bowl full of jelly was still included in the fun, but we knew a regular Joe was under the layers of red and white.

My boyfriend, my partner in this thing called parenthood, had the exact opposite Christmas experience. He is all about tradition and formality. He is also a believer, and wants our son to be. It’s part of Christmas, he says. I’m just not into it. I can play along with other children, but when it comes to my own I have trouble.

It’s not because I want my son to shower us with praise for the gifts which he received. A “thank you” is polite, but I could care less about that.

I was talking with a friend about this issue and she worried about fairness. How could Santa bring a NintendoDS-3D to one child, but not to another? Or, why does Santa not bring gifts to the children on the Angel Tree? We don’t really buy gifts for our son, because we have a very generous family, and we don’t need a lot of stuff. A couple necessities are wrapped for our gift time, but nothing big.

Is it a time for good behavior? I remember one year saying that I had to be good, because Christmas was near. My mom said, “No, you need to be good, because you should always be good.” Regardless of the time of year, or what holiday was approaching, good behavior was expected.

I don’t want to lie to my children. Not even a little white lie. Especially when caught off-guard by a sweet child with an investigative personality. I’m a horrible, horrible liar, and I know I’d end up getting something wrong which I believe would cause more harm than not believing.

More importantly, I want my children to trust me. If I say something as matter-of-factly as I say S.C. is real, then he turns out not to be, what else will they think I’ve lied about? I find no joy in misleading people. What if I tell them he does exist, and a bully on the playground tells them otherwise?

The flexibility is nice. At Thanksgiving dinner, we were talking about when my little family of 3 would celebrate our Christmas together. We are blessed with a big family, that is mostly spread between Cabell and Kanawha counties. Last year, we hit up Cabell families on Christmas Eve and Kanawha families on Christmas. It worked beautifully and was the best Christmas we’ve had together, yet.

I mentioned doing our Christmas on the 26th, or maybe the 23rd. My FSFIL (faux step-father-in-law) alluded to the fact that we wouldn’t be able to do that much longer, because we’ll have to start opening our gifts Christmas morning so the magic won’t be broken. That had never crossed my mind. I prefer taking the time that we want, when we want it.

I see no harm in letting my son believe, but I don’t feel the need to foster the belief. I plan on remaining honest and if he decides, as he gets older, that he wants Santa to be more than imaginative, well, we’ll see what happens.

In the end, I know it doesn’t really matter. It’s childhood fun and whether they believe or not, the holidays won’t be ruined. I guess. I’m new to this mothering thing, so what do I know?

Are you a believer? Are your children?

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6 Responses to “A tale of two Christmases”

  1. Leigh AnneNo Gravatar says:

    I 100% agree with you on this one. My kids do not and have never believed that Santa was magical. They think he is fun and jolly but beyond that, nothing. And we always told our kids that other kids did believe Santa was magical and not to spoil that for them because it might make them sad. Seriously, all of the points you have made have crossed my mind and we think alike on this issue!!

  2. CarrieNo Gravatar says:

    Total believer. I don’t think it’s lying or misleading. It’s just good fun.

  3. ZackNo Gravatar says:

    I was a believer until, I’d say, around six or seven. Megan and I have introduced Liam to Santa already. While your concerns are valid and justified I don’t really see the harm. Do you want to know what I remember most about finding out he wasn’t real? Nothing, cant remember a thing. I do, however, have many cherished memories on thinking about, talking about, and waiting for Santa. Memories that would not, could not exist without that little lie.

    As for the idea of fairness, that is an excellent point, but one Liam or Bhodi might not piece together for many years, when they can decide what they want to believe. Then would be the time explain such things.

    As far as not telling white lies is concerned, I think, while noble it would be, it is far too unrealistic. There will be many and more situations where our young ones are not emotionally ready for the answer to the question they asked. So why not perform a white lie that could create many fond memories of childhood, in addition to those created by his loving family.

    With the differing views of the two parents, I would look at the value given to the child. Megan and I have vastly different views on religion, so when she sits down to talk about such things I’m right there with her helping where I can, not because mommy and daddy are in full agreement, but because we see the value for Liam.

    In the end i think its a simple risk/reward assessment. Good could potentially come of telling him about Santa and nothing will happen if you don’t. It’s just hard to remember nothing.

    That’s just my two cents, sorry for the rambling.

    Also sorry if this gets posted like 4 times. I was having…issues.

    • CaraNo Gravatar says:

      Thanks for posting, Zack!

      I agree that the value to the child is one, rather large, factor in making this decision. However, what better value than a child to see that people all around him are being charitable, instead of a folklore caricature? I think, in this world where we see so many do such awful things, the holidays are a great opportunity to restore our faith in humanity.

      • ZackNo Gravatar says:

        Could not agree more with that statement. I was actually going to put something similar in my first post. There should be a balance. Kids should see loving families sharing, and create many memories as such. But children should also relish in the sensational and fantastic side of things, to expand there creativity and imagination. Making cookies and hearing reindeer are amazing things as kids and those memories are a different kind of family memory once the illusion has faltered.

        As adults often our “box” becomes more and more condensed, and we forget what it feels like to believe in the unbelievable. I don’t want to start Liam on that path too soon. Because what then? No imaginary friends? No drifting off into the fantasy world to save the princess from a dragon? All of these things we truly believe as kids are near impossible to comprehend as adults. There will be time to face the grim truth of humanity, but while that window is there, why not jump through it into a world of possibilities…or rather impossibilities.

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