Sunday, April 15, 2007

Call me naive if you want.

I was shocked, or I guess surprised would be a better word, while reading the comments over at Owlhaven that some folks don't "do" Santa, the Easter Bunny and/or the Tooth Fairy. Now I feel my statement needs a bit of qualifying as to not offend anybody. I was shocked or surprised because I have literally never met anyone who just didn't "do" Santa etc. It's never occurred to me that was an option. Obviously I was brought up believing they all existed. Reading through the arguments against fostering such a belief in small children I can see their side of it. I get it. You don't want to lie to your children. You don't want to take the focus of the holiday off Jesus. I just don't necessarily buy into it and that is strictly my opinion. Personally, I just don't see them as being mutually exclusive.

My feeling is this, there is wonder and magic in being a child and that is available to them for such a very short time. The window of opportunity given for believing in such things is small, less than a decade I would estimate. I guess when looking at the average life span I really don't see the harm in allowing them to indulge in a little make believe.

Now, for fun, let's bring Jesus into the equation. By far the biggest argument against "doing" the Santa et al thing was it detracted from the religious meanings of the holidays they are associated with. To that I say, only if you let it. Let me, again, reiterate I am in no way trying to offend just trying to state my own feelings in regards to my own family. You see in these parts, I'm the Mom and that's really code for saying I'm in charge. I'm in charge of what they eat, who they spend time with, when they go to bed, what chores I expect the them to do and so on. I am also in charge of Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Jesus. Now I agree the latter is borderline blasphemes, but hear me out. Abby and Maya go to church because they are taken to church. Abby believes in Jesus because she's been taught to believe in Jesus. She's in the choir, well she's in the choir because her little friend joined first, but you know what? He quit and she's still there, week after week, practice after practice singing praises to the Lord. Why? Because she's in an environment that encourages her to do that. If I was a different person it might not be that way, but I am and it is.

This past Christmas Abby knew we were "celebrating for Jesus".
We read the Christmas Story. She knew it was His birthday. Was that in anyway negated by leaving oatmeal outside for the reindeer? Or reading T'was the Night Before Christmas? Or leaving milk and cookies out for Santa? Or opening the stockings he packed? No, not at all. Did Santa stuff a multitude of extravagant presents under our tree. No he did not, the girls got one gift each from Santa. Do we use him as a threat or bargaining chip? No, although faithful readers will remember that Mike slipped up and did so once this past year. Only once though folks. This past Christmas Eve we went to church in the morning and Abby sang Away in the Manger with the choir. Our families were there to hear her sing. She was excited. The next morning she awoke to find the reindeer food gone. She was excited. Our family was there to be excited with her. Now we have wonderful memories of both. Personally I don't think I need to pick one over the other.


Owlhaven said...

Thanks for your thoughtful viewpoint!


Shan said...

Thanks Mary.

Anonymous said...

Funny, I just wrote about this too. I am one of those people who has decided not to "do" Santa. Though I also really don't see anything wrong with what you're doing. I just had a hard time trying to figure out how to explain Santa to my three year old in the same sentence as Christ. She's just too young to understand the difference, and although I know eventually she'll be able to get it, I just didn't feel right about it. At least not this year.

I think we'll see how it goes as our kids get older, if they really seem to WANT to believe, or what. We'll likely still talk about it, maybe even have a gift from Santa, but I imagine doing it all in the same way that I talk to her about her imaginary friends. We both know it's pretend, but that doesn't mean it can't be fun.

That was my main problem with it though--that she couldn't get the difference between the Sacred REALITY and the fun, fanciful PRETEND. That, combined with how commercialized and un-Christ-centered Santa tends to be (which I realize you are avoiding) just made the Santa stuff unappealing to me.

Karen said...

Well said Shannon. I'm with you, although I did struggle this year with keeping the attention on Jesus and less attention on the fat guy who flies reindeer. I imagine that will be easier as Emily gets older.

Shan said...

Thanks for your thoughts on this Lolly.I mean no offense to you, this is just my own feelings on the subject. Personally, I don't necessarily expect Abby to know the difference between the sacred reality and pretend at this point. There will be time enough for that when she's older. Although already I can see her grasping and understanding more and more, but then she is almost 5. I think she has an age appropriate understanding about the Bible and that's good with me. I am also fully aware that, while we are laying a foundation of beliefs for the girls ultimately they will choose their own path when they are older. For example, my brother and I didn't attend church as children and yet now my brother is a Pastor.

Thanks Karen. I would give yourself a break on the struggle. It will all even out eventually. Abby's nearly 5 and this past Christmas was the first one that she really got everything. My brother, the aforementioned Pastor, made a joke to Abby about Christmas being Santa's birthday and she quite forcefully corrected him.

I guess I view Christmas as a holiday of many parts that make it amazing and, to me, Santa is one of them. But then I tend to treat Santa more in the Christmas spirit sense than anything else. I think the Christmas spirit ideals of sharing, caring, giving, and thanking are definitely a compliment to the religious nature of the holiday.

I'm not sure that was as coherent as I would have liked, but there you go.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely didn't take any offense, and I enjoyed reading your opinion. It's true, there will be time for understanding, and it can be fun to just believe in the magic of it all at this age. Our family is still so young, who knows how it will morph and grow over the years.

I just felt weird about it for my daughter this year, and didn't feel it was necessary for her to have a grand time. Maybe at some point it will be. Did you ever read Kerflop's story about Jake last Christmas. Here's the link:
I can see myself doing what she did in a similar situation. I guess we have to be very in tune with and aware of our children's needs so we can do what's best for them in each circumstance. Surely that goes for all our parenting practices, and not just whether and how much we "do" Santa, right?