Christmas is Magical Without Santa

Many parents wonder whether to tell their children if Santa is real.  While there is good reason not to, this post is not about that.  Instead, it shares that Christmas is Magical Without Santa.

christmas-is-magical-without-santaFirst, the realizations that led to a Santa-less house:

1.  Telling my children that a stranger enters our home through a chimney still hot with fire, and trollops around while we are all asleep never made sense to me.

2.  The traditional picture of a terrified child unwillingly or forcefully sitting on the lap of a stranger was not one I wanted as part of my collection.

3.  Being untruthful with my children is not something I am comfortable with. I understood that the depth and frequency of the lie would need to increase as time went on (like “Santa’s helpers are at the mall- that’s why there are so many”, that I happen “to have the same gift wrap as santa”, that “daddy’s handwriting must look just like Santa’s”…)

As soon as I admitted the three thoughts above, my decision was made.  Santa would not be the sole fictional character allowed to cross into our real world.

My husband was not so sure.  He wanted the fun of tracking the sleigh and the look on our children’s faces as they came downstairs on Christmas morning.  He wanted the Magic of Christmas.  Who could blame him?

“I want the magic of Christmas too” I told him, “I just do not think that “Santa” is required to create it”.  Kris thought about it.  He himself was at a point of frustration with commercialism.  I shared a few articles with him and the words resonated.

So Santa has never come to our house.  Not once.  Not ever.  Our children receive presents; from mom and dad and each other.

We decorate our house and take trips to the City.  We have carols playing and watch all the retro shows.  We visit with our neighbors and serve those in need.  We decorate the tree, and spend time with our families.  We ride around looking at Christmas lights and get extra hot chocolate as our town lights its tree.

When Christmas morning comes, I come downstairs first, just like my dad used to do.  I turn on the music and the lights on the tree.  I start a pot of coffee, mix hot chocolate and ready the video camera. I switch the flash of our camera to “on”. Then, I excitedly walk to the bottom of the stairs and say “Merry Christmas Owen and Sydney! Come on down!”

The expressions on my children’s faces are not less precious because Santa did not come.  They open their gifts saying “Mom!  You remembered!” and “I LOVE sparkly books!”  Arms are thrown around necks, wrapping paper lines the floor, and the mugs of Kris and my coffee steam.  The lights on the tree twinkle and sounds of the season swim through the room.

Christmas Morning is the culmination of our magical Christmas Season.  Even without Santa.  Not focusing on Santa and presents leading up to Christmas leaves room for other stuff too, but that is for another post.

There are lots of good reasons not to have Santa visit my house.  When I first began to consider this option, I thought I might be robbing my children of something.  Now I realize that I have not, and this decision fits our family perfectly.  Most importantly, there is no doubt that Christmas is magical without Santa.

Click here to read “Santa is Not Real and Reindeer Do Not Fly:  Admitting the Truth”

Click here for “11 Ways to Feel the Magic of Christmas without Santa”

Join us for “Elf on the Shelf Freestyle Parenting Style”!

Here are some useful links on this subject:
What We Tell Our Kids About Santa by Pastor Mark for The Washington Post

Does the Santa Legend Endanger Trust?

In Our House there’s no Santa Clause

 


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Comments

  1. kayley peck says:

    had santa been in your house with the children for a couple years before you decided its not for your family? this has caught my attention and now even questioning myself. yet my daughter is 3 and so excited about father xmas this year. first year really into it so dont want to break the magic she has got this year? x

    • [email protected] says:

      If the person who comes to this revelation really wants to be honest with their children about Christmas, they would explain to them that it is actually the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Otherwise, you’d still be lying to your children. This whole post is actually a very large contradiction. Furthermore, if you are not a Christian, you should explain to your children that you do not believe that Christ was the son of God. Therefore, being totally honest with yourself and your children, you would not choose to celebrate Christmas at all. Don’t even get me started about Easter and the Easter bunny or the origins of Valentine’s day etc. In closing, I am not religious but I am very analytical and if anyone is really that concerned with their children living a lie, you would tell them about the true meanings of all of our holiday traditions. I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s personal epiphanies here. I just think that people take things to extremes these days in the age of political correctness.

      • Actually Christmas had pagan roots. Yeshua (Jesus), who was born in the fall (the Egyptian god Horus was born 12/24), celebrated the festival of lights (Hanukkah) since he was Jewish. Santa’s (not St Nick, he was a dark skinned Bishop of Myra, from Turkey) modern imagery comes from the Odin & the Holly King instead and many customs come from Saturnalia & Yule. The wreath and tree are fertility symbols representing male and female genitalia. Many wiccans have trees in their homes. When Christmas trees were first brought to the USA they were shunned as being heathen. The flying reindeer came from psychoactive mushrooms they ate, and their handlers drinking reindeer urine and hallucinating.

      • There have been winter celebrations since the dawn of time, long before Christians and long before Jesus.. it’s a celebration of the returning of longer days, the winter solstice.

  2. Kristi Bek says:

    I do not want to lie to my child either. However, at 4. he believes without us saying a word. I don’t want to destroy this for him. So, when he asks me questions, I just say, “That’s how the story goes.” or That’s what they say.” We also “play Santa” when we make our charity boxes for kids. We let it be another story, like Superwhy or Spiderman. We have fun with it, without the lies. 🙂

  3. Kathryn van Heerden says:

    Hi, my children are now 12yrs and 10yrs and 18 months. When they were much smaller we decided to tell them “sorry we lied, there is no Santa!” The big concern from the then 5year old was, “will we still get gifts?”
    We felt as parents, we have to set the tone for our household, is telling the little white lie about Santa okay? NO, because no lie is good even if it is just implied. If you are telling the perpetual lie, how can you raise truthful children? We focus more on the reason for the season, and the children know that daddy and mummy give the gifts.
    Thanks for this article, it’s nice to know you are not alone on this one in the up coming festive season.

    • Kathryn,

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. Owen was just over one when I first mentioned to Kris that the idea of Santa made me uncomfortable. I had no idea that other people felt this way too. Now I realize how many people do not “do Santa”. I am so grateful that I followed my gut and that my husband agreed.

  4. monica sajer says:

    Thanks for offering some ideas on this. I always felt uncomfortable about perpetuating santa. My now 8yr old soaked it up but figured it out last spring. I felt a bit ashamed when i finally fessed up. She looked disappointed in me. My 4 yr old knows about santa but isnt consumed by it yet. I think i will be eliminating santa from the conversation this year and sharing the historu amd story of st. Nicholas this year.

    • Monica,

      One of the things that has always encouraged me is a parent is the knowledge that children respect our fessing up to things- that this is valuable for them and it builds their trust and respect of us- not to mention it takes the pressure off of them because they know it is okay to make mistakes and adjust.

      I have to say, it feels good not doing Santa. There have been so many times this year I have thought “man, I am glad I don’t have to explain that!”

      Thanks so much for being here, Monica.

  5. Do you mInd sharing links to the articles you shared with your husband that resonated with him? We are in the process of considering no Santa in our house for our 18 mo old, and I would love to read those articles.

    • Hi Heidi,

      I cannot remember the specific articles, but did you check out the ones at the end of the post? That is a pretty good sampling. Please let me know if you need something more specific and I will try to find them for you. I’m glad that you are here!

    • I was just thinking- I think the one from Natural Child Project referenced at the end of the article was one of them!

  6. My son has never been told “Santa is real” by me or his Dad. I presented all the information [historical santa, popular stories etc] and then left it up to him to decide what he wanted to believe. I never got gifts from Santa as a kid or any of that stuff [cookies and milk, reindeer food etc] and I still remember the “magic” of Christmas even growing up in a non-religious home. It was working until his school started doing Elf on the shelf. Suddenly he was terrified of Santa and this “possessed” [his word he’s six] Elf watching his every move and reporting to this guy who’ll leave you a lump of coal if you step out of line. So we sat him down and told him Santa and the Elf aren’t real and that nobody will “break in” and no magic elf is reporting on him or watching him. How we believe in giving gifts freely because we love people not because they are afraid they won’t if they are bad. He was truly upset over this. We spoke about it being fun to pretend and how we need to respect other people and their beliefs even if we don’t share them. So his friend who do say Santa is real aren’t “lying” or wrong they have a different belief system. Like how our Pagan friends aren’t “lying” their beliefs and truth are different from our own. This past week he has had fun pretending and he’s no longer afraid.

  7. I totally feel what you mean about Christmas being magical without Santa. Neither my husband nor I were ever told Santa was real as children, just that it was something akin to the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy. I guess I always knew better because even when my dad teased about “Santa coming” just to play around, I would just say, “Oh daddy, I know Santa’s not real!” We still left cookies and milk out on Christmas Eve though, because why not! (I also left out Cherrios for my stuffed animals because I wanted them to be real sooo bad) I definitely agree that traditions are fun, and those don’t have to include lying.

  8. You don’t want to nurture your child’s imagination by allowing them to believe in Santa while they are youngsters, because you think it’s “lying” to them, and yet you feed them the lie of Christianity… the irony in that is quite amusing.

    • Hi Jane,

      Let’s take this point by point. I very much want to, and do, nurture my child’s imagination, everyday, not just during Christmas time. Allowing them to believe in Santa does not nurture their imagination, it tells them to believe a lie. Santa is part of our Christmas, as a character, just like Caillou, or Spider Man.

      The Jesus/Santa comparison is inaccurately used frequently during this conversation. Parents who teach their children about Jesus believe it also, making these things entirely different.

  9. My parents were never big on Santa, so our Christmases are pretty much Santa-less. I have never felt ‘robbed’ or felt our Christmas is not magical enough without Santa. My parents put emphasize on Jesus and helping others (just like you!), and that what makes my Christmases magical as a child, and continuously throughout my teenage years and adulthood. And I fully intend to do the same thing to my daughter. Thanks for sharing this piece 🙂

  10. i remeber as kids we acted like we did believe becuase it was an extra present under the tree!.. my point is, little kids dont really care if he exists or not, long as they get the presents and cut down the tree and stuff. when ever a person played santa we quickly got our gift and never said another word to him haha .. just make sure you have a way to tell your child not to ruin it for the other kids at school.. because if they going getting into argument over if hes real or not you are going to get a couple phone calls, dont ruin it for other families!!

    • Hi Skiple,

      I know it’s a popular belief, but why should I make my child stressed out and lie to cover up somebody else’s lie? That’s not right at all! If somebody wants to do the Santa thing, okay. I don’t think I should tell my kids to lie though.

      • Its not up to us as parents of our children to decide how other children will be raised. During your child’s life, they will come up against many things that they disagree with or don’t believe in (as you are Christian, especially religious beliefs) and sometimes the best way to deal with situations like those is to not engage and to be tolerant. This could be a good opportunity to start teaching your child how to do that without lying and also without ruining the Santa belief for another child.

        Santa didn’t come to my family’s house but I don’t remember telling any of my peers that Santa wasn’t real and I don’t remember lying to them about it. It was just something that happened to them, not us and it didn’t really bother my siblings or I. Maybe as adults, we complicate the issue more than children.

      • Hi Jennifer
        My children are in (secular, public) school with several children from Christian families, who have decided that they don’t want to do Santa. It was one of these children who thoroughly enjoyed telling the whole class that Santa isn’t real. I didn’t make a fuss about that, I dealt with it myself (Well some people believe in the magic of Santa and some people don’t, I like to believe in that magic and whether you do is up to you). My son came to the conclusion there was no Santa a couple of years later. I asked him if he had enjoyed playing the game and he had, so I asked him to let his siblings carry on playing the game and he has been happy to oblige.
        The issue I have is that those same Christian children constantly talk about Jesus at school. We are non-believers and it is important to me that my children are old enough to make up their own minds about their beliefs, before religious beliefs become entrenched and hard to let go of (although we have books representing a variety of religions and I am very happy to discuss the facts of various religious beliefs as long as people don’t think it is OK to present those beliefs to my children as fact). Jesus was never written about by his contemporaries, in or out of the bible and although the jury is out, there is still no conclusive evidence that Jesus the person existed, let alone that he was supernatural; despite the fact that we don’t know definitively about the existence of a supernatural being behind the big bang, there is no evidence that a supernatural explanation is better than any other; even if there is a god/ gods, there is no evidence that it is the Christian God. That said, I know that these parents would be horrified if their children were challenged on their beliefs at school. So I tackled the issue sensitively (Some people believe in a god. There are many gods that different people believe in. I’ve thought about it very hard and I don’t believe that there is any god, but I want you to make up your own mind, which is why we look at our books about different beliefs, so you can decide whether you want to believe those things yourself. But x would be very upset if you suggested that Jesus isn’t real, so it’s best to listen and not comment if he/ she talks about it. If you have any questions, we can talk about it later when he/she’s not there to get upset). I don’t find them being stressed out by not taking part in contradicting their friends’ beliefs and I don’t see how these same Christian families couldn’t take a similar attitude to Santa for the sake of other families.

  11. Alexandra says:

    Being raised Catholic in Europe, we celebrated Christmas with Euro Santa who was stylized after St. Nicholas, a fourth century martyr under Roman Emperor Diocletian. The US Santa is the Americanized version. http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/

  12. This post is so timely. We are struggling with the whole Christmas concept in our house, and have been very worried about not presenting the traditional Christmas ideas to our kids. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  13. I’m totally with your husbands first thoughts on this. To each their own, but Christmas, Santa included, were a big part of my childhood, and some of my best memories. I’m not taking that away from my child just because “it’d be lying”.

  14. Why is this such a struggle for people? It’s good ole fashioned FUN!!! I mean, the kids watch the cartoon Frosty the Snowman…. is that not fun?? So what’s wrong with the notion of Santa Claus coming to town??? I just will never understand why this has to be such a hot topic. There are moms everywhere criticizing each other. How dare those moms cling to a little bit of innocence in their children??!!!! The nerve!!!! Well, I say shame on them for telling us how to parent our children! Did you also “enlighten” your Kindergartner on how babies are made so that she can share the joy of sex with her classmates? I mean, you don’t want to lie to her about that either, do you? It’s not fair for you to criticize my parenting skills just as it is unfair of me to make hasty generalizations about your parenting techniques!!

    • That’s crazy. Each person has their own idea of fun. My idea of fun is not lying and making my kids believe that. That’s fun for me… and maybe them… or maybe not. This has less to do with fun, in my opinion, than tradition. You can have just as much fun with a child who knows it’s not real, and is just pretending. Why is innocence equated with lying about magical characters? That’s a strange leap in logic… So I’m now going to tell my daughter that there’s a monkey that poops Oreos, kidnaps children, and brings them to the Equator on Dec. 20. Now I expect you to tell the same lie to your kids, because it’s fun… Why won’t you? Only because it’s not a tradition… (Note: the current Santa has only been around for less than 100 years, so is he really so ‘traditional’?)

      As for telling my daughter about sex… what should I say, the stork??? No, we don’t need to go into graphic detail when she’s 5, but it will be a bare bones version that she can understand. Over time, we’ll fill in the details she needs to know. If your kids believe in the stork, then sorry.

  15. Mama Bec (@becb1984) says:

    Just found this post today and found it very reassuring, we have decided to be honest about Santa but as my daughter is not quite 2 I wasn’t sure how it would all work without Santa. This post has satisfied me that I can make Christmas magical for my daughter without lying to her! (I blogged about this subject too by the way – here’s the link: http://gagatg.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/the-claus-controversy.html )

  16. Enjoy Christmas people! If you don’t want Santa for your family (that’s your business)…but there are much bigger issues to focus upon than upon Santa Claus. I’m amazed when I see blogs and comments such as this. For those of you who axed Santa from Christmas, I’m wondering….are you holier than those of us who choose to allow our children to believe in Santa?

    • No, but in my experience, Americans (I’ll limit this to the US) jump on you when you say you don’t do Santa. Most people would probably not care if I said I didn’t do Jesus… but Santa??? Many seem to view it as child abuse. It makes me laugh.

  17. Dear Jennifer, Im not even sure how I ended up on your blog. I am sure that I will not be returning, not because your Traditions differ from my own but because of your “holier than thou” way. Do you realize how critical you come across? Do you realize that your writing makes it seem like you believe you’re better than everyone else? You have made a decision that works for your family and I RESPECT that and if our children were to ever meet I would teach my children to RESPECT the beliefs of your children. You’re words make me feel like I have to defend my beliefs. In one of the previous comments you said that it wouldn’t be right to tell your kids to “lie” to other kids about Santa. How about teaching your kids to RESPECT the beliefs of their friends and classmates-they’re children, they don’t have to debate it.. Maybe I’m misinterpreting this but it sounds as if you would be ok with your kids telling other children that Santa is not real? If that is the case, that’s sad. Just because , in my opinion, you made the choice to deprive your kids of a very magical PART of Christmas does not give you any right to try to take it away from someone else. For many families”Santa” shows up in many different ways, for example, we adopt a local family at Christmas time and “we” are “Santa” and my kids love that, even my younger kids don’t think we are getting on our sleigh flown by reindeer to deliver the gifts. when they are older they will know how Santa works and how he is able to be everywhere all at once, he has help, Santa is not a lie to us, he is the spirit of Christmas. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ and in my family Santa has always been a part of that celebration.

    • “Just because , in my opinion, you made the choice to deprive your kids of a very magical PART of Christmas does not give you any right to try to take it away from someone else.”

      It sounds like you are honestly being a bit judgmental. I believe she said that it was not her kids’ responsibility to lie, but that they should also not tell the secret. That is being respectful.

      Let’s go through the logic… Santa is real, because he represents the “spirit of Christmas”. However, you did not tell your children that he is a mere symbol. You told them that there’s a fat man who flies around the world, going down their chimney to deliver gifts to them if they’ve been good. That’s a lie. We both know that there is no man living in the North Pole, employing vertically-challenged, pointy-eared people. Her children probably COULD say that the spirit of Christmas is important, or that giving is important. However, they probably WOULD NOT say anything to make the child think there is a fat man sneaking into your house to deliver gifts.

      From personal experience, I have family members who know that I don’t feel comfortable lying to there children (I won’t use euphemistic language). It’s unfair to ask me (or my child) what we got from Santa, if you know we don’t do that. Moreover, to expect me to lie because you’ve lied to your children? Not cool. Respect goes both ways on this issue… and although I hope my children will never tell the truth about Santa (he’s not a rotund man with magical abilities), I also would not want them to lie to keep others’ lies. It’s a choice each of us must make, but you also can’t force your choice on those of us who would rather not participate.

  18. Our family (5 year old and 20 month old) doesn’t ‘do’ Santa. But this year I’ve made a point to explain to my 5 year old that other families do tell their children that Santa is real, and that it would spoil their fun if he were to argue with them. Just like when we buy a gift for a friend, we don’t tell them what it is.. we wait for them to unwrap it and discover it for themselves. Same with Santa.. we know he’s not real in our family, but it’s not our place to convince others or ruin their ‘surprise’.

  19. Carolmeadows says:

    Once you have debunked the santa myth,where does it stop?? Is it goodbye Easter bunnny, tooth fairy,anything magical?? They are young once! And how do you keep the little ones from blabbing to their friends?? Kids don’t keep secrets well.

    • Yes- we do not pretend the Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny are real. These characters are not magical. The magic is taken away when we lie to our children and say they are real. Check out the follow up piece “Santa is Not Real and Reindeer Do Not Fly”.

      As far as talking about it, I personally do not feel it is up to my kids to lie. I certainly will not coach them to lie. That said, my kids are pretty respectful and have said that when the topic comes up with friends, it’s not a big deal. They just talk about what they want for Christmas or whatever. It’s just not a big deal.

      People have elevated Santa to a point of craziness, and he is so fragile (because it is such a massive and complicated untruth). Looking in from this side it gets wackier and wackier.

      As far as kids “only being young once” I’m not sure what you mean. You could check out my follow up piece “Santa and Imagination” which I suspect will address some of what you meant.

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