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We Don’t Do Santa

I’m not a grinch, really I’m not, but I don’t plan to bring Santa into this house.

My son is three, and the children around him at school are already excited about being visited by Santa on Christmas Eve. He doesn’t get the hype, because he has no idea who everyone is getting excited about.

My family has ribbed me a bit about it, but I never felt anything special about Santa growing up (my parents taught us about Santa Claus, but a jolly old man sneaking into our home to bring us gifts was strange to me- he was a stranger that snuck into our house without a chimney, just to leave us presents, whether or not we were actually good).

no santa claus

Those who teach it to their children often defensively say to me “I know you don’t like it, Penelope, but we are going to teach our children about Santa”. It makes me feel like a scrooge, because I don’t care if anyone teaches their children about this jolly old man who spreads cheer and joy. He’s a cool guy. He just isn’t Christmas to me.

(growing up, we weren’t taught about him as a saint either, just the commercial, reindeers and magic version of a man with lists, though honestly, i never 100% got the connection between the saint and Christmas either)

I was actually bratty as a kid growing up with Santa Claus…I expected Santa to bring me what I wanted, it didn’t matter if my parents couldn’t afford it, and, well, it was a set up for disappointment.

Christmas Is Magical Without Make-Believe

I want to teach my son about the birth of Christ, about wrapping and bringing gifts to poor children, about beautiful Christmas carols and the nativity story (our church does a lovely pageant every year). When I was single I used to go to the NYC Post Office each year with my best friend Sue and get Dear Santa letters, and surprise random children around the country by getting them what they wanted (as “Santa” lol) and I want to do this with my sons too, so they learn generosity and making people happy with no expectation of return. My sons are 3 and 9 months so still a little young, but I can not wait to do this with them!

If they are curious about and interested in Santa, we can do that too. We can watch Rudolph and Frosty and leave cookies out for Santa. But this won’t be something I initiate or suggest or emphasize. In this house, I want Christmas to always be about Christmas, the non-commercial, family gets together, celebrating the birth of Christ kind of Christmas, and Santa can come too, but he’s not the guest of honor at the celebration in this house.

  • I agree with you on some levels.. I’m actually afraid of teaching my toddler about Santa and sitting on a stranger’s lap, but at the same time, I have my hubby dress up as Santa for her.. so I’ve already created the monster..
    but I also teach her that Christmas isn’t just about presents. We go to the Ronald McDonald house, as well as a local woman’s/kids shelter and drop off gifts. We also do the post office angel program you are talking about. At 3 years old, your son can start learning about ways to help out. My daughter is 3, and while she doesn’t understand WHY people need help, she does know that we help where we can.
    I can appreciate when other parents teach their kids about giving back 🙂

  • Mellisa

    I think there are a lot more people these days that choose not to do Santa and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. We celebrate the birth of Christ as well as Santa. I always loved those childhood memories of believing and waking up Christmas morning to see if Santa had come. I want those same memories for my kids. However, I do make sure that they know exactly why we celebrate Christmas and remind them on a daily basis. My daughter goes to a Christian preschool and they do the same.

  • Penelope

    That is so wonderful that you do that with your children!

  • I love this post. I think more of us should cut the Santa crap.

  • I think it’s a personal choice. We focus on baby Jesus, but also talk about Santa and do that as well. One of the things I like telling my son about Santa is he teaches us how great it feels to give a present without expecting one in return. We use it as a tie-in to holiday giving.

  • I think Christmas is about both, the non commercial stuff and commercial stuff. I hope I am teaching my son that the non is most important.

  • Ahhh! I love the magic of Santa. 🙂 I still believe in him. I’m not religious though. But I love how you stand up for your beliefs even if they aren’t the norm in regards to Santa. So bravo on that! 🙂

  • Penelope

    Thank you honey 😉

    In the last couple of days, my son has been saying “Santa” when he sees his image, so I’m guessing whether or not we bring it up, he’ll get caught up in the excitement, lol.

  • Jennifer B

    I never believed in Santa as a kid, so Santa was never a big deal when I had my daughter. I never told her about him, but never didn’t tell her either. With that she caught on very early. And some years should would want to “play” santa and I was more than happy to indulge her, but mostly she just didn’t care. We never did the Easter Bunny or tooth fairy either. I also made sure to tell her not to ruin it for other kids and she never did. Expect a 12 year old when she was 4….haha We also focus on the birth of Christ as well, but me not doind Santa had nothing to do with my beliefs. I guess it was more about how I grew up.

  • Leilani

    I never believed in Santa, but that was because I grew up poor, didn’t get presents, and didn’t have a fireplace for Santa to enter our apartment. I don’t encourage Santa with my own kids, but when they do bring him up, I humor them and play along. However, I think they pretty much know that we buy the presents and it’s not actually from Santa because I do my all my shopping with my kids. Yes, even when I’m buying their presents. So there’s no surprise.

  • I actually agree with you on some level and when it’s broken down like this it really is creepy what we are telling our kids. But I think if you leave it as simple as Santa delivers presents to good boys and girls it is awesome. And of course as we get older we can break things apart and analyze them more but for a child, they don’t do that, ya know…

  • I have the complete opposite experience. Our church didn’t believe in “the myth of Santa” so I grew up not believing. My brother was born when I was 11, and we did Santa with him. I loved it. For me, it did bring the magic, and I’ve really enjoyed having Santa in my children’s lives. I do think it’s a personal choice though, and whatever you do is the right choice for you.

  • Penelope

    The Easter bunny thing really bugs me, because a chocolate-in-a-basket carrying bunny hopping around when we are remembering the crucifixion—kind of insulting really 🙁

  • brandy

    In our home we do Santa but we’ve always told Owen that Santa tries to get everything on your list but there are a lot of kids that ask for presents so he tries his best to get your stuff. But we also talk about how Christmas is about family and spending time together not always about what you get. He seems to get that. I don’t think anyone who does NOT do Santa is being a scrooge or anything. Your reasons are your reasons and your family should respect that. I’m sorry that they give you a hard time.

  • I wanted to not do Santa, but felt the pressure from friends and family. This year we did a lot of donations and I’m trying to teach the kids about giving and not so much on receiving.

  • While I did teach my children about Santa, I also make sure that they understand the true meaning of Christmas and we fit in plenty of opportunities for giving back and volunteering this time of year as well.

  • I 100% agree with you.. I even contemplated doing Santa, but hubby wouldn’t do without. I think Christmas is too much about gifts and Santa and NOT enough about Jesus and his birth. My niece got all excited for presents last year asking where they were from everyone, and even got upset that I got my other niece something better from Santa.. (it was her birthday 3 days prior) I just hate the way it has become.

  • I think it’s great that you’re focusing on the basis of Christmas versus the whole commercial me me me aspect that it has become.

  • Loved this post. Personally I feel the same way.

  • I think it is a personal choice too, but I celebrate Santa as long as I can. I will say that it can be cheaper once they know who Santa is as Santa won’t be bringing my teens nothing big, just some stuff in their stocking.

    As for sitting on Santa’s lap, I have been making sure I am included in the picture because the look on my son’s face when he was a baby on Santa’s lap was priceless. He was looking at Santa like who the heck are you. 🙂

  • My aunt grew up not believing in Santa she was 10 years younger then my dad and my grandparents felt it was easier then trying to do it again in fear the older kids would spoil.

    I think each parent has a right to do what they want and that does not make them a grinch. It is the spirit of Christmas that most kids don’t even know they think it is just a time to get presents that is what is more important to teach them.

  • everyone celebrates the holidays in different ways doesn’t mean that anyone’s ways are right or wrong its just what is right to them. I share the birth of Jesus and have a manager under my tree. Santa also sits in my living room. I like to think of it as the best of both worlds.

  • While we have made the choice to make Santa apart of our family’s holiday tradition (as well as the birth of Jesus), I think your approach is perfectly reasonable as well. The concept of Santa can be fun, however it’s possible to lose sight of the true spirit of Christmas (the joy of giving, family, etc) if the emphasis is put too much on just getting stuff. It’s a balancing act for sure.

  • That’s good to know that I’m not the only one. This is why I hate when people talk about Santa with my son.

  • I don’t make a big deal about Santa, I but a few small gifts under the tree on Christmas morning and that is what Santa brings. I like it stretched out… I do Yule on the 21st, and my daughter will get visits from her grandparents on Christmas Eve… then the big fake red guy.

  • Jenn

    Hubs and I didn’t grow up with Santa and won’t be introducing him to our children either. Thought I was the only one!

  • Donna

    I make sure my son knows the true meaning of Christmas and we do charitable things all year, really… but I love the whole Santa thing, but that’s us. My sister-in-law doesn’t do Santa with her 3 boys, they never say anything to our son about there not being a Santa, and my son doesn’t talk about Santa with them. What’s funny is, I (nor my sister-in-law) have never told my son not to NOT talk about it with them. The kids just don’t think it’s a big deal either way, I guess.

  • Sue

    Guess that means I wasn’t supposed to get them Christmas presents?

  • Penelope

    They know the presents were from you, silly 🙂 Not Santa! (My boys love you more, lol)

  • Good for you!

    We do Santa, but my children know the real meaning of Christmas. Santa only brings my children one gift, and all the others come from mom and dad. Since my children have been born, every Christmas we give back to the less fortunate. It’s a great learning season, that’s for sure.

  • I personally love the idea of Santa and we taught our daughter about him when she was really little. I just thought it was fun and a nice way to add more excitement into the holiday. I totally understand those that decide not too – Christmas is still just as awesome without him! 🙂

  • Maryann

    It is what makes the world go round. I like and teach about Santa. For me it is a magical time and I enjoy it with my kids. But that is certainly up to you and your family. I don’t want people telling me how to raise my family so I will not tell you how to raise yours!

  • We, too, teach our kids the real reason for Christmas, but also do Santa I loved the fun of Santa growing up though never expected him to bring me everything I wanted LOL. Neither do my kids. In fact Santa usually only brings one gift they actually want, if that, the gifts they ask for come from us 🙂

  • Good for you for doing what is in YOUR heart for YOUR children! We are not religious at all, so in our home the holiday season is about giving, family, love and fun.

  • You know that I was really feeling torn on this too. I want my daughter to know that Christmas is about Jesus’ birth not Santa. However, even though she goes to a Christian preschool, they ended up writing letters to Santa and with all of the buildup I felt compelled to indulge her. We still have yet to take pictures or visit Santa (other than a Shamu with a Santa hat at Sea World) but it’s not something that I will initiate each year. We’ll just go with the flow as to how she broaches the subject next Christmas.

  • Penelope

    My son came home with Santa crafts and a letter too 🙂 I don’t mind it, as long as it’s in fun, as a sort of side thing. It’s not all about him and gifts, and that is what counts.

  • I tried hard to keep Santa out of the house, even going so far as to tell P. it’s game some people play – but little friends got to her and she became convinced of his reality. I also don’t like the idea that there’s a magical present-bringer without a budget… if I met him, I’d want to know why he’s so generous with kids of rich parents and so stingy with kids of poor ones.

  • Megan @ That Neat Blog

    Good for you for doing what you want and trying to please your family. I loved the excitement of Santa as a child so we do it for our kids.

  • Thomas

    A friend of mine had this conversation with her husband this holiday season. She did not want to disappoint her sons by introducing Santa and then having to explain why he brings a truckload of toys to another child and only two gifts to them. I can understand the concern and also your approach to teaching about Christ and generosity. These are wonderful concepts children will benefit from as well.
    My question to you, as it was to her, is are you planning to introduce the tooth fairy or any other fictional entity?
    I have no issue with not introducing them. I just plan to do so in order to encourage imagination and teach some of the lessons that are linked to those characters. Although, right now, the tooth fairy idea doesn’t seem to teach much that will be useful.

  • Penelope

    No tooth fairy or Easter bunny or anything like that. I am happy with him playing make-believe or if he hears about “elves” or some other mythical creature, fantasizing and wondering about them. Those are all fun things. I just don’t plan to be the one to teach these things as though they were real. I don’t plan to hide them from him (I won’t avoid stories with unicorns or goblins or anything like that) because I feel imagination and creativity are wonderful, but there is a difference to me with a story that includes wondrous things, and telling my son that Christmas is about getting presents from a man who lives in the North Pole and he has to be good to earn them. I guess mainly it bothers me because I want him to know what the holiday really is, and don’t understand why it was replaced by something cartoonish and unrelated.