We don't, for a bunch of reasons that I've shared elsewhere (here and here). But I'm amazed at the misconceptions people have (especially in online comments) the second they hear about someone making this choice for their family or advocating publicly for a non-Santa Christmas lifestyle (even in a secular publication like Business Insider!) So, in case you were wondering, or even if you weren't, allow me to clear these up for you.
- It doesn't mean he is banned from our Christmas entirely. For the sake of this discussion, "doing" the Santa thing involves the whole keep-your-children-believing-in-Santa until they corner you or figure it out on their own. We don't do that. But we do watch some movies about Santa ("Frosty" is a year-round favorite in our home) and read books that include him. As a character, we don't think he is evil. But he is pretend, and so he is a part of our lives in the same way that Tigger and Pooh and Dora and Snoopy are. We have fun with him, we just don't make a big deal about him.
- It doesn't mean we are hypocrites. Because yes, we put up a Christmas tree and hang stockings and observe Christmas on December 25 when we know Jesus was probably born in the spring. Yes, I know these customs, and others, have pagan roots. Oh, well. Contact me if you are really curious why we are okay with the rest of it, but basically we just don't feel like all of the modern Christmas customs are lumped into one "all or nothing" bunch of activities.
- It doesn't mean we hate the fun and magic of Christmas. This is one of the number one objections I read online. "You're taking the magic out of Christmas!" We are trying to focus that attention more on the true miracles involved with the birth of Jesus and less on the make-believe fantasy. But that does not translate into "boring", I promise! Their childhood is not joyless and stodgy. At all.
- It doesn't mean our kids are going to ruin it for your kids. Yeah, if your kids corner mine and ask if Santa is real, it could get dicey, because they know they are supposed to tell the truth. But I am watching out for that, and my kids have been told that some parents pretend more than others and not to spoil the game for other children. (At the same time, I do feel that it's each parent's responsibility to safeguard the beliefs you want your children to hold dear. I will teach my children to be respectful, but it is not my job to sustain your child's belief in Santa at the expense of our family traditions. But I digress....)
- It doesn't mean that I'm telling you how to parent or that I look down on you if you make a different choice. And I appreciate the same from others. This is a parenting choice, one of many that parents differ on. Like breastfeeding and cloth diapers and babywearing and homeschooling and others issues that intelligent people disagree on, we are making the best choice for our family. I might even feel that our choice has significant advantages over another choice, and therefore good for a friendly debate, but I don't see this as a line in the sand between being a good Christian or parent and a bad one, honest. I don't think deciding otherwise is going to ruin your child. I share our choice with others as encouragement to those who may be leaning the same way, but would appreciate knowing that they would not be the only one going against the cultural grain.
At just two weeks away from Christmas, my kids are having a grand time looking at lights and other decorations, opening our Advent calendar, watching Christmas movies, helping bake Christmas cookies, and planning on Christmas gifts for other members of the family. Leaving Santa out of the mix is not diminishing our holiday in the least, we are building some fabulous holiday and family traditions, and we are setting our focus on the birth of Jesus above all else.
How do you handle Santa? PLEASE be respectful in your comments (see number 5 up above.)