This morning I read this blog post over at The Gallivanters and thought it might be worth taking the time to write about why we have never done Santa either.
Ever since our kids were little, we have never promoted Santa, Father Christmas, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy as a thing.
We do celebrate each of those milestones (milestones is not the word. Events?), but the children are and have always been very aware of who is behind it.
Each child has reprimanded me on more than one occasion for forgetting to put coins under their pillows, or for forgetting to remove a tooth.
“Mum, you’re the worst none tooth fairy ever!”
So I am not against the concepts or adding a little artificial magic to their lives. We joke about how bad mum and dad are at playing the roles. But never have we pretended they are ‘real’ nor told a lie to make them so.
One Easter my daughter had her friend from Germany staying with us. As I tip toed into their room with the Easter eggs, they woke up. Being caught placing the eggs in the room, I proceeded to explain that I wasn’t the Easter Bunny but a very naughty mummy who had woken them up.
Our German friend sat up stunned, uttered something we couldn’t understand in German and promptly went back to sleep.
Both girls asked me later if it was a dream?
Of course I told them it was not.
So what’s our problem, why have we taken that stance?
I don’t want to lie to my kids –
Yeah I know that is a big stretch, and one that I am not always successful at.
I would be lying if I said I never lied.
I do, we all do, as hard as we try not to, we do. I am terrible when it comes to be asked at a restaurant if I enjoyed a meal. My default answer is yes! Not necessarily because I liked the food, but because usually I have enjoyed the experience or the company. And I certainly appreciate not having to cook. I would like to some how communicate that, while finding a kinder way to say the food was rubbish. I always feel like I am lying.
To my absolute horror, I found myself coaching my 16-year-old son to tell a little white lie the other day to get out of an awkward situation.
I am not proud of that fact, but it happened I did of course apologise and explain the error of my ways, but like everything, I suspect that action too will have consequences somewhere down the line for both of us.
But all that aside, I want to be known over all in my life as a truth teller. I want to be more truthful than not. Most times l think I tip that balance.
I want my children to be able to trust me when I tell them something.
I made this mistake when a daughter was 4 and she got her tonsils out. She asked me if it would hurt, and instead of answering her question truthfully, I told her about jelly and ice cream. When she came out of the anaesthetic she told me off for lying to her.
I decided from that point on I would try to be even more vigilant with them, which has meant that I haven’t wanted to pretend things are real when they are not. I do try to give honest answers. Santa and his cohorts, always seemed like such a web of deceit to me that relied on layers of deceit, and I just couldn’t do it.
I want them to understand the value of money –
When our children were little, we were in a very different place financially than we are now. Unlike most people who take a pay cut to stay
home with children, we have found the opposite phenomenon to be our truth. I suspect that has been because we started having children very young, I was 21 when our first one came along. By the time our second was here I was always trying to find work that I could do from home (like provide respite care or party plan selling), something I have done on and off throughout their lives.
As our children have grown, our income has too. That does not mean that we never struggle, two recessions and unemployment saw to that. But it does mean, that way back when we where working out how to parent our children, value for money and the value of money shaped our world view, and continues to do so now.
Money was hard-earned (still is), my husband works long hours to provide for our family in our business. He sacrifices many of the experiences I sometimes take for granted, because he simply can not be as available as I am.
Because of this, I never wanted a jolly man in a red suit to take credit for those sacrifices. I have always wanted credit to fall where credit is due. To parents who work hard to make Christmas happen.
We have always set a budget for Christmas and birthdays, and the children know what that budget is. They learn to really think about what they would like, and have to make that happen in the budget allocated.
We still wrap things up beautifully, place them under the tree and celebrate Christmas, but the labels truthfully state who those gifts are from, and everyone knows I fill their stockings.
As they have started to earn their own money (or sought jobs from us to do so), it has been wonderful to watch their generosity develop with each other as well.
I like authenticity –
I think the best thing that has come out of our decision to do away with imaginary people, is that the traditions we have formed at Christmas are real and tangible.
That is not to say that Santa isn’t real for those who believe, I guess that is a different kind of real.
Regardless of our Christmas lacking a Father Christmas, it hasn’t stopped lovely traditions developing over the years, and all of them are based on activities and moments we have all shared in and have come to love and appreciate.
I love watching how new traditions start as we try something and it sticks.
Our traditions centre around our family, our beliefs, our values and our shared experience of what Christmas means to us.
But more of that to come in December as I try to do Vlogmas.
It will be really interesting to see what traditions they carry over into their own families, if any at all, and if their own upbringing will shape how they view Father Christmas and whether they make the same choice we did for their own children.
What are your favourite Christmas traditions?