Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Santa Tradition at Our House.

Let’s be honest for a moment on the parenting front shall we? Aside from vaccinations, I would say that the Santa subject is probably the most controversial parenting subject that is broached amongst parents today. At least that’s how it’s been for me.

For our family Santa has sort of evolved. Brayden’s first Christmas he was only 8 months old, so we didn’t really even do Santa or gift trading with him. Last year we had a newborn, and he was still only 20 months, so he barely grasped Christmas, much less a jolly old man in a bright red suit. This year however has been different. He completely understands Christmas. EVERYTHING. The decorations, the presents, the tree, baby Jesus, and of course, Santa Clause. Rest assured, our family’s Christmas traditions and celebrations hinge on the fact that Christmas is first and foremost about baby Jesus. Without Him, there is nothing to celebrate. So when I had to take a look at how I would introduce (or rather, explain, as Santa is so clearly introduced and plastered on EVERYTHING and EVERYWHERE that it’s hard to really avoid him) Santa, I chose the nucleus to be Jesus.

Like I said, our Christmas holiday and traditions hinge on Jesus. I knew going into this year’s Christmas holiday that I didn’t want to exclude Santa. For me (and this is solely my opinion and no judgment if you do things different), I just felt like removing Santa removed some of the magic of Christmas that I remembered as a child. I loved joking around with my dad about Santa, even when I KNEW he was not “for real.” So I didn’t want to ditch him, but I didn’t want Brayden to lose sight of Jesus with Santa in the mix. So I decided I would incorporate Jesus with Santa. I mean, after all, the real St. Nick gave gifts to those in need to symbolize the greatest gift ever given, Jesus Christ, God incarnate. So when we started explaining to Brayden who Santa is, I just simply told him that Santa helps us celebrate Jesus’ birth. In our home, Santa will only bring stocking stuffers. No big presents. And the reason he gives stocking stuffers is because he wants to help us remember that Jesus was a great big gift to us from God. Santa also helps mommy and daddy pick out presents for our boys. But those big gifts are from mommy and daddy and helps us all celebrate Jesus.

You may recall that we do Elf on the Shelf. This is our first year to do it. I have treaded softly on the premise of the Elf. While I want Brayden to enjoy the tradition, I don’t want him to get caught up in “acting” good just for Santa. I want Brayden’s actions to be a picture of his heart. Discipline for our family is about getting to the heart of the matter, not just what our kids DO or SAY. So I have embraced the tradition of the Elf, but he doesn’t really watch whether he’s “good” or “bad.” There are no “naughty” or “nice” lists at our house. Rather, the Elf helps watch over our kids and is looking for behavior that makes Jesus happy. If our behavior makes Jesus’ heart happy, then mommy and daddy will be happy, and Santa will be happy too. Because first and foremost, we want to please Jesus with everything we do. Obviously this message may not come across to Brayden where he can understand it 100%, but you’d be surprised what your kids really “get” when it comes to life lessons. The Elf is fun for me to do as a mom because I can see Brayden getting so excited about it. The awe and wonder about the Elf helping Santa, and finding him in a new spot in the house is just precious and I am sure I will remember these mornings during Christmas time when they were little for years and years.

One other little thing, and this is more of a pet peeve than anything: I absolutely hate it when other parents say “well, we don’t do it because I don’t want to lie to my child.” I take offense to that statement because it creates a premise that I myself am lying to the boys. If your child had an imaginary friend, would you tell them “that’s not a real friend. They’re not really alive!” just because what you are speaking is the truth? I hardly believe so. No, I am not lying to my children. Should they come to me and ask if Santa is real (does he really go down chimney’s, bring presents to EVERY girl and boy, etc… of which stories we have not told… right now B just knows that Santa is a helper that helps celebrate Jesus’ birthday), I will tell them the truth, as my parents did for me. I won’t sugar coat things to make up an elaborate plan to hang on to Santa. But for now, Santa is a part of Christmas for us.(for a fresh take on the whole lying about Santa and how to deal with it when your kids ask questions, I really enjoyed this blog post I found, written by a mom who did Santa with her kids).

So there you have it. Our take on Santa. Please know that Santa, as with all traditions, will probably ebb and flow as the boys grow up and I learn to be the best mom I can be. If you’ve read my blog for long you know that I make no premise to know everything, Santa included. What does YOUR family do with Santa? Do you take it, or leave it? As with all posts on my blog, I’d love to hear your opinions, even if they differ from my own, as long as they are written in a respectful manner.

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