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The Big Lie…

spapersanta.gif

Okay, 

Things have been pretty quiet around here lately. Lot’s of baby pictures, job changes, etc..etc…yawn.  I feel like stirring things up a bit, so I’m going to throw out a question that I really haven’t formed a solid opinion on, and see if, once again, the wisdom of my friends can help. 

We had a couple of close friends over to dinner the other night and, somehow, the question of “Santa Claus” came up (I think we saw an old preview on one of my DVD’s)…anyway… THAT led to the “what are you going to tell Gracie when she’s older…” conversation. 

Honestly…I’m stumped.  

I mean, the little kid/writer (often the same element, lol) in me loves the idea of my baby girl experiencing the wonder of that particular fantasy. We’re big into Christmas here, and to be honest, the whole “Santa Claus is coming” thing is just fun. I WANT to see her eyes light up when we tell her Santa’s on his way. I WANT to have her hanging on every word as I read “The Night Before Christmas.”

 On the OTHER hand…I still have a big problem with the fact that, when you take away all of the cute stories and chocolate sprinkles…I AM lying to my daughter. And, in fact, I’m telling her a lie that she will ABSOLUTLY find out is a lie, just about the time I’m going to want to her really trust what Mommy and Daddy have to say. 

Those who know me know that I’m in no way a stick-in-the-mud. If anything, I’m a big twelve-year-old and I like to have fun with the best of them.  At the same time, I’m now a father, and I’m responsible for at least shaping the direction this new person will go. 

The scariest thing that’s been said to me so far was, “I just don’t want my (child) to think to themselves, ‘They said the tooth fairy was real, and she wasn’t. They said Santa was real, and he wasn’t. They say that Jesus is real…” 

THAT’S the one that has me up at night. 

So, what are you’re thoughts? Opinions? How have you parents handled it? How are you not-yet parents planning to handle it?

 Am I over-reacting?  Am I not taking it seriously enough? 

Tell me what you think!

 Thanks, -Perk

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33 thoughts on “The Big Lie…

  1. Dinana on said:

    Perry,

    I love my kids to celebrate the wonder of all holidays, especially Christmas. I did tell my kids the “santa” lie, and when it’s time to tell them the “truth”, I explain that the secret is part of the spirit of the holiday. Going to SantaLand at downtown M&F (now Macy’s) is a big tradition. Seeing Santa and asking for one special gift is something they love to do. My teenager asks for world peace every year! Now, my older daughter wants to help me to be Santa.

    I remember how long I believed in Santa, and that it wasn’t a sad thing or a lie to me, but a tradition.

    And, some special ways we handle tradition:

    Only Santa’s present gets “santa wrap”.

    BUT…I (formerly we) made sure our kids understand that Christmas is about Christ, and the Santa tradition is just a fun add on and a historic tradition. We like to read about how it started, how other countries celebrate, and how we can help others during the holidays.

    Tooth Fairy: kids just like the cash…I use special coin dollars that they only get from the TF.

    Easter: bunny prints matter. I learned this from my sister. I take cornstarch or flour and with 2 fingers, make a track of bunny prints to their room, he hops up on the bed and leaves a bunny kiss on their noses. I don’t give HUGE baskets…just little ones with a few treats. They love the bunny part, even the teenager. AND she likes to do the bunny prints for her sister!

    I really think (I do, I do) that making these stories fun, but not central, makes it not so terrible. My kids never accused me of lying, but have teased me about it. But I can guarantee they will carry on the traditions.

  2. AaDO's wife--SuperDi on said:

    We chose not to do the traditional Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc. Part of me is sad about it but the part that rejoices that my 8 year old daughter implicitly trusts what we say to her is worth it. Both of my kids have wanted Santa and the others to be true. It’s so cool to have a magic being bring you surprises, after all! However, my oldest understands why we don’t do it and is now somewhat glad that she has “insiders/big people” information when her cousins are believing.
    My parents did the Santa thing (I still get a Santa gift every year from my folks–LOL) and I do remember the betrayal and grief I felt when I found out there wasn’t a Santa.
    All of this being said, I don’t think participating in these traditions is evil or wrong, we have just chosen to replace them with our own traditions (birthday cupcakes for Jesus on Christmas Day and special crafts or foods that illustrate the Easter story) because we want our children to completely trust us and because we want the focus to be on Christ on these holy days. That’s the important thing–how you teach them of the REAL reason for the holiday–not what traditions you institute as a family.

  3. I think that it is time to meld the over stimulation of Santa and Christ.. Afterall, they are both unmerited favor…

    Given the opportunity I will ask a questioning child :
    What is Santa?
    “A happy guy that comes into your house and leaves you awesome gifts!”
    Why?
    “cause I am good”
    You mean you make good choices and are polite and listen to your parents.
    “Ya”

    If you have taught your kids thus far that finding a good parking spot, an extra burger in the bag and having good parents and that you should give when you can- are a blessing from God…

    Then Santa is just a happy guy working for God to give you gifts to show His love. The gifts represent Jesus birth and then the gift He gave to us.

    (oh, and we did not have a fireplace so we made our parents leave the door unlocked…not too much of a stretch since dragons turned out not to be real too)

    If God blesses you the more kids, the more you can let go of the guilt ..the fantasy perpetuates itself.

    Isn’t it a good behavior modification tool as well…coal in your stocking- Daddy what’s a stocking…
    it’s your sock sweety….

  4. LaVonne on said:

    My husband and I had the same dilema and decided that we wouldn’t do the Santa, Easter Bunny, etc. thing. Our son, now 4 1/2, knows about the folklore of Santa but he knows that Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’ birth and the presents are to celebrate that. To make it so that he is still excited about Christmas morning, we don’t put all the presents out until after he goes to bed Christmas Eve. We still get to see his eyes get huge and see the excitement on his precious little face.

  5. Wow, maybe I’m just too much of a realist, but isn’t the whole Santa thing just weird? A strange man coming into your home while your asleep, somehow knowing exactly what gifts you asked for, and then apparantly watching you all year round to see if you’re good or bad. I just think that’s creepy! You can see we don’t do the Santa thing. Christmas for us is about a miracle that happened in Bethlehem and a God that would put on this rotten flesh to give us yet another chance to be with him. I don’t see any reason to make something up that has nothing to do with that.

    We have told our kids that some people like to pretend about the Santa thing, and the Easter bunny, and all the other made up things that parents tell their kids – so it wouldn’t be nice to spoil it for them!

  6. Jeni,

    Just my .02, but keep in mind that there are plenty of folks who think that the ceremonial eating of blood and flesh is creepy too, but you and I know better…because we know the whole story.

    The legend of Saint Nicholas (literally “Santa Clausen” in the original language) is actually a beautiful story of a devout catholic man who became the “good Samaritan” to his neighbors in a time of great poverty. Yes, he knew what the children wanted; they were starving and they wanted food, which is what he gave them. He came at night so that he wouldn’t be “exalted” for his gifts, and that the glory would go to God (and also so that he wouldn’t be excommunicated for giving to non-catholic children as well, but that’s a whole ‘nother point, lol.)

    “He knows if you’ve been bad or good…” Well, you can blame Hollywood for that part, lol.

    I’m actually looking forward to telling Gracie the story, as it’s one (of many) that exemplifies Christ, and maybe that’s the best way to lead into this subject with her. It’s certainly not the first time a good story has been corrupted.

    Now, if you want to talk about “creepy” we can discuss how our commercial-mad society has raped and pillaged this story to squeeze every last penny from it. THAT, I would agree is creepy!

    I do understand your point, and agree, I’d just hate to see the proverbial “baby” tossed out with the “bathwater” on this one.

    LOL,

    -Perk

  7. I love when folks bring up St. Nick in this discussion. Like he has anything to do with the hairy guy in a red suit riding on a sleigh with flying reighndeer, eating cookies that we leave out, and dropping into houses through the chimney! To me they’re two different discussions. If we’d like to give gifts to the needy in rememberance of Nicholas, then let’s do that. But Santa is a whole different thing.

  8. Perry,

    We have handled this question a number of ways over the years. At first, Santa was a part of our holiday traditions. After a while, we tried switching to St. Nicholas and celebrating him on Dec 6th while reserving Dec 25th for the Messiah.

    Eventually, we decided that, while a worthy man, St. Nicholas wasn’t going to be part of our celebrations. After all, as a family we don’t customarily observe Saint’s Days.

    The only reason St. Nicholas has become what he is today is that nostalgic poem and the CocaCola company. The problem with modern observations of the Santa tradition is that they 1) promote materialistic/greedy urges, 2) draw attention from your stated primary focus for the holiday and 3) involve lying to achieve numbers 1 & 2.

    You can still have rich holiday traditions, wonder-filled eyes and glorious memories without Santa.

    We know families who start Dec 1st by moving the Nativity scene wise men about the house. Mary and Joseph start their journey a bit later. The baby shows up Christmas morning. The shepherds visit and finally the journey of the wise men ends the play on Jan 6th. Just one example of a truly messiah focused tradition.

    ***CONTROVERSIAL SEGMENT FOLLOWS:For the record, we don’t celebrate Christmas at all these days. We did just celebrate the birth of the Messiah during the (Biblical, not Jewish) Feast of Tabernacles.

    Here is a lovely timeline for you: Scholars have traced the date that Zachariah, John the Baptist’s father, served in the Holy of Holies on the day he was struck dumb. I haven;t memorized the Hebrew months yet, but it was near our month of June. Adding six months to that date gives the approximate conception date for the Messiah- which that year occurred during Hannukah (The Festival of Lights). He is The Light of the World, right? Add the appropriate number of months and Messiah was born in the fall of the year, very possibly during the Festival of Tabernacles. So the God of all the universe sent his precious son to temporarily dwell among men (tabernacle with us) during one of His appointed times. Beautiful!

    Google “pagan origins of Christmas” in your ‘free time’ someday and try to read outside the normal Christianese websites. END CRAZY OPINION SEGMENT***

    Probably more controversial than helpful, but I love ya no matter what you guys decide for your Gracie and your family.

    Meg

    p.s. The kids are asking to see Gracie. We need to get something on the calendar!

  9. That last post sounds a bit harsh with only the written word. I hope you wrap it with the gentle voice of friendship.

    Meg

  10. Jeni,

    Holy crap! Did you find a dead Santa in your chimney when you were a child, or what?

    I think you need to hug a reindeer.

    LOL,

    -Perk

  11. Meg,

    I know the “pagan” origins of Christmas (and Easter as well.)

    I’m pretty confidant that my God is smart enough to know that I’m not worshipping Odin, the winter solstice, or encouraging fertility rituals to Ester in the fields around my home, lol.

    Also, as the average American can’y name the first five presidents, quote the preamble, or name Columbus’s three ships, I’m not terribly concerned that I’m going to make anyone around me stumble my believing that I’m celebrating a pagan ritual of antiquity. (Except maybe Phil…HE would know the dates, lol!)

    I guess I feel that Christmas is a symbol, much like the crucifix, which was one of the most horrendous and feared objects in history, symbolising centuries of terror and death. UNTIL, that is, that symbol was changed for us by Christ’s sacrafice, now what once meant death and terror, now symbolizes freedom and joy.

    I don’t base my acceptance of something on what it meant a thousand years ago, but what it means to me now, in my heart. I think it IS about the heart, not the date, or what we name the day.

    Also, I’m not interested in “celebrating” Saint Nicholas, any more than I “celebrate” Mother Theresa…I just think it’s a great story to pass along.

    “The only reason St. Nicholas has become what he is today is that nostalgic poem and the CocaCola company.”

    That…was awesome, lol!

    Yes, call Vic so we can get a day on the calendar.

    -Perk

  12. “A strange man coming in while you’re sleeping…”

    ok, at least we’re not talking about Perry… 🙂

  13. No..no…I’m the “strange man who lurks in the parking lot early in the morning….” remember?

    -Perk

  14. LOL Yeah, maybe I have some deep resentment that I need to explore. I do remember being so ticked off because my mom told us for years that at midnight on Christmas eve, all the animals talked, so they could greet Santa. Every year we would try to make it and never could. Finally one year, the clock struck twelve, I looked at my black Chihuahua “Pancho Via” and said “Hey!” He just looked at me, annoyed as usual and trotted off to bed. That sucked.

  15. Jeni,

    That…was…awesome.

    I don’t know what’s funnier, the story, or the thought of a Chihuahua named “Pancho Via.”

    I see the clock striking midnight and your dog trotting into the next room, muttering to himself, “What I’m supposed to say…Felize Navida? Freakin’ loco gringo chiquita…”

    -Perk

  16. Mr. E. Nigma on said:

    I grew up thinking Santa was real, until I was old enough to figure it out. Didn’t seem to harm me. It is curious to me that the things parents grew up with and over came(normal stuff not abuse ect.), that made us the men and women we are today, are the same things we try to shield our kids from (but this is a soapbox for another day).
    Many people seem to think that by playing along they will somehow damage their kids spiritually, or stunt their growth, or somehow cause them to turn away from God. When the fact is there are alot of things that parents do that will cause those very things in even greater amounts, but they aren’t a holiday tradition, and nobody talks about them, so we do them anyway. The fact is that no matter how well we raise our kids, salvation is a choice that rests solely with them. Our participation in a fairy tale, or lack of, does so little to impact this.
    The part that concerns you, the lie, should concern you everyday of you life, not just once a year – about a holiday. An adults view of God is most often tied to their view of their father. A little secret that I picked up… Let your word be immutable, trustworthy, everyday. If you say it will happen, good or bad, you make it happen; or don’t say it. If you promise to punish if said thing occurs, you better do it. And most importantly if you promise to reward, you’d better come though. Everyday, everytime, do this and your kids will trust your every word, do it not, and you will be ignored. (please take into account that I know that no one is perfect, myself included; and not for lack of trying)
    So play along, or don’t play along, it’s the other 360 days that will make an impression.

  17. Mr. E. Nigma on said:

    As I re-read this one question comes to mind… HOW DO YOU GUYS MAKE PARAGRAPHS!!!

  18. E –

    VERY well put, and I totally agree.

    Still, I’m a little confused as to which side of the table you’re on, regarding this particular point.

    You seem to be saying that telling your kids that Santa is real is no big deal and unlikely to hurt them in any way, but then you state “Let your word be immutable, trustworthy, everyday.”

    So…is the “Santa” thing included in that?

    If so, I think you’ve made an excellent argument for that point.

    Thanks for the post!

    -Perk

  19. “As I re-read this one question comes to mind… HOW DO YOU GUYS MAKE PARAGRAPHS!!!”

    Ummm…I hit the enter key twice at the end of the first paragraph, creating a space between it and the next.

    -Perk

  20. Mr. E. Nigma on said:

    What I’m saying is that your word is important, but if you let one ‘slip by’ your kids aren’t going to hell. There are lot’s of Christians out there who have ‘made it’ inspite of ‘Santa Claus’. 😉

    I chose to not pormote it (that’s how important I feel my word is), while also allowing my kids to believe as their friends did, but when each finally asked me for vcerification of Santa’s existance, I told them the truth, that he was pretend, and it’s fun to pretend.

  21. Mr. E. Nigma on said:

    Hey! Look at that!

    A PARAGRAPH!!

  22. ROFLOL!

    I was hoping you’d think up some dialogue. Now I have Acerbic’s latino accent in my head. Yeah, Pancho was a great little dog. He “ran away” when I was in high school. My dad always hated that “little rat”, so I’ve always been suspicious of his disappearance.

    Just to clear up something, I’ve never thought that if kids believe in Santa that would some how affect their decision for salvation. Just wanted to be clear. Afterall, I can only think of a few believers I know that didn’t involve Santa in their christmas time to some degree. It’s not about that for me.

  23. Acerbic Villain on said:

    Oh… FINE… Since we’re all beating around the bush on this.

    Santa = THE DEVIL!!!!

    There I said it!

    Oh, and you can’t handle my latino accent!
    My latin heat is too strong for ju!!

    – AV

  24. Acerbic Villain on said:

    ^^^^^^

    None of that is true.

    – AV

  25. Ahhh…now it’s a post, AV has chimed in, lol.

    Gonna leave this one at the top for a couple of more days, see if we can generate more conversation. New post coming Monday.

    -Perk

  26. Mary Lou on said:

    Lot of interesting thoughts on this one. I will point out that it allows parents to give gifts without being exalted for them (a problem my spouse has with the prospect). “Why shouldn’t they know those are from us?” There are other reasons for her and most have been covered here already.

    The children in my house will grow up knowing that I tease. Already when I ask for something over the dinner table my little girl will say “no” while smiling and reaching to give me the object. They know when they burp to say “excuse you Uncle Perry” They know when they ask where we are going the answer will be Albuquerque. The point is they know I will tell them things to make things fun. They also know that if they get serious and say where are we really going, I will tell them. When they see mysterious presents under the tree and ask if they are from Santa I plan to smile and say “what do you think?” and when (hopefully) years from now they come to me with a serious look and ask is Santa Clause real? I can tell them that I played Santa Clause so that I could give them joy without taking credit for it.

    On the same subject my kids will get presents from our pets, in fact I still get presents from my dad’s dog. (Usually a pen and pencil set, which is a pretty creative gift idea from an animal that does not have opposable thumbs.)

  27. Acerbic Villain on said:

    QUOTE: “…when I ask for something over the dinner table my little girl will say “no” while smiling and reaching to give me the object”…

    At which point, the beatings commence… right????

    🙂

    Actually, in my family, I never grew up thinking that Santa was real. I’m not as morally opposed to the thought of playing the Santa game as my wife may be, but I really see no point in doing it at all. It has no special place in my heart or fond memories for me.

    When my older sister was really little, my folks tried to tell her about the whole Santa game/myth. She got freaked out about the prospect of a big fat guy sneaking into the house in the middle of the night after spying on you all year long. Rightfully so.

    They didn’t even attempt to ‘play’ Santa with me.

    My wife’s family did a pretty good job of making the Santa thing clear. To them it was like this: “Other people like to play that game. Saint Nicholas was a nice guy, and that’s the rudimentary origins of “Santa”, but we don’t believe that he’s really the guy who sneaks into your house at midnight on Christmas Eve. Other kids like to play that game and it would be inproper for you to ruin that fun for them, but you know the truth.”

    We essentially raise our boys with that understanding. We don’t do “Easter Bunny” either. Meh… it’s no real big deal.

    To us, ‘Santa’ is the guy who gets to hand out the presents on Christmas morning, when Dad has his coffee and a fire going in the fireplace. 🙂 I’m usually to lazy to do that, so my oldest son (who can read the gift cards well enough to do it accurately) does it.

    Good times…

    – AV

  28. AV –

    Maybe that’s why Im having such a hard time with this. Christmas & Santa were HUGE in my house growing up.

    We were “poor” folk, (not a call for pity, just the truth) and we started looking forward to Christmas immediatley following my birthday in February.

    Seriously.

    Things were put on lay-away, the Sears catalog was thumbed, even candy and cookie ingredients were bought at “after Christmas” sales in prep for the following year. My Mom had a special shelf in her closet where she stored stuff for the next Christmas.

    This might sum it up…

    We had a cardboard fireplace in our apartment that used at lightbulb and a electric fan to simulate flame. It has a picture of Santa Claus on the “chimney” section.

    It stayed assembled in our living room all year long…seriously.

    I think that Christmas, of which “Santa” was a part was a big factor in keeping the desperation of our poverty-stricken lives from becoming overwhelming.

    That’s not an exaggertation, a plea for sympathy, or a cop-out, it’s just a fact. I’ll share the particulars of my childhood with anyone who really wants to know. It’s…interesting.

    Without wallowing in self pity, (which I don’t need to do, as God has lifted me from that life, to something infinetly more wonderful…and undeserved) let’s just say that reality, in my childhood, often sucked, and fantasy, like “Santa Claus” was a necessary respite.

    Still, that said, I don’t want my “issues” to be a predominate factor in my daughter’s life, either. I need to find a “middle ground” as I intend to make sure that the hope of “Santa Claus” is not as…necessary…in her life.

    I don’t know that I even realized this until I had to face it in this post.

    How do we keep our own “issues” from molding the lives of our children?

    Excellent commentary, thanks everyone.

    -Perk

  29. Acerbic Villain on said:

    So, the Santa thing is more for you, and you’re looking to us to see if we think you’re gonna screw up your kid. Right?

    If that’s the case:
    Nope… THAT ALONE likely won’t screw her up. I have a feeling you’d be pretty even keeled about the hole affair. If not, your wife would quickly beat you into submission.

    BTW: I think there are SOOOOO many other things about you that will end up screwing up your kid. Don’t high-center on “Santa”…

    :p

    – AV

    PS: You _DO_ know that Santa isn’t real. Right?

  30. Acerbic Villain on said:

    Just to put you at ease. Let me sing you a little song:

    Maestro?…..

    hmm. hmmmmmm….

    Down in the workshop all the elves were making toys
    For the good Gentile girls and the good Gentile boys
    When the boss busted in, nearly scared ’em half to death
    Had a rifle in his hands and cheap whiskey on his breath
    From his beard to his boots he was covered with ammo
    Like a big fat drunk disgruntled Yuletide Rambo
    And he smiled as he said with a twinkle in his eye
    “Merry Christmas to all – now you’re all gonna die!”

    (Chorus)
    The night Santa went crazy
    The night Saint Nick went insane
    Realized he’d been getting the raw deal
    Somethin’ finally must’ve snapped in his brain

    Well, the workshop is gone now, he decided to bomb it
    Everywhere you’ll find pieces of Cupid and Comet
    And he tied up his helpers, and he held the elves hostage
    And he ground up poor Rudolph into reindeer sausage
    He got Dancer and Prancer with an old German Luger
    And he slashed up Dasher just like Freddy Krueger
    And he picked up a flamethrower and he barbecued Blitzen
    And he took a big bite and said “It tastes just like chicken!”

    (Chorus)
    The night Santa went crazy
    The night Kris Kringle went nuts
    Now, you can’t hardly walk around the North Pole
    Without steppin’ in reindeer guts

    There’s the National Guard and the FBI
    There’s a man from the Eyewitness News
    In a helicopters circling ’round in the sky
    And the bullets are flyin’ the body count’s risin’
    And everyone’s dying to know -“Oh Santa, why?”
    My, my, my, my, my, my – used to be such a jolly guy.

    Yes Virginia, now Santa’s doing time
    In a federal prison for his infamous crime
    Hey little friend now, don’t you cry no more tears
    He’ll be out on good behaviour in seven hundred more years.

    But now Vixen’s in therapy and Donner’s still nervous
    And the elves all got jobs working for the postal service
    And they say Mrs. Claus she’s on the phone every night
    With a lawyer negotiating the movie rights.

    (They talk about)
    The night Santa went crazy
    The night Saint Nicholas flipped
    Broke his back for some milk and cookies
    Sounds to me like he was tired of getting gypped

    The night Santa went crazy
    The night Saint Nick went insane
    Realized he’d been gettin’ the raw deal
    Somethin’ finally must’ve snapped in his brain

    Merry Christmas!

    – AV

  31. Mary Lou on said:

    AV,
    it’s probably because I worded it poorly so it is misleading and my point was lost in my babbling (oops like now), but why the beatings? Our family is an odd one and spends most of our waking ours joking and kidding; she would only say no while obviously doing exactly what was asked of her. If it was any time other than when she was doing what was asked then oh yes, the beatings would begin.

    Hopefully that makes more sense as to why there were no immediate beatings following her “no”

    Completely different note, love the song. Is it a Bob Rivers hit?

  32. Acerbic Villain on said:

    Yeah… I was kidding about the beatings part.

    Mostly. 🙂

    – AV

  33. GET ON WITH IT~

    The joy of Santa is wonderful. And there’s nothing like the glisten in a childs eyes as they wait by the tree trying to stay awake waiting for him, just like they wait to see the baby Jesus arrive in the manger on Christmas morning.

    Everything in this day and age is over thought, over emphasized, over done (Christmas ornaments go on sale in JULY!!!). You can find a balance!

    It’s a nice tradition that brings little ones joy and wonder. I NEVER overemphasized Santa over Jesus, and my kids know the true meaning of Christmas. Still, they like Santa and the traditions that go with Santa.

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