I have a confession to make: My kids know that Santa isn’t real.
If you read my Saturnalia post, then you probably know I don’t really get all that into Christmas. I think the whole holiday season originated as a campaign to keep people from killing themselves during the most gloomy and depressing time of year. The weather is always crappy, the days are dark, so why not celebrate something to feel warm and happy? Christmas is just the Christianized version of all the previous holidays where some missionaries got together and decided to change the theme to celebrating the birth of Christ (who was more likely born in Spring according to historical research).
As a result of this weird bastardized holiday, we have a whole bunch of strange traditions that have little to do with the nativity of Christ. There’s the Christmas tree, kissing under the mistletoe (although I like kissing, so that one’s alright), and hanging lights. Then there’s the gift-giving tradition, which is supposedly based on the gifts of the wise men. Commercial opportunities led to contemporary Christmas traditions like bratty kids making excessive Christmas lists, Black Friday violence, and Santa Claus.
There are a lot of things about Santa Claus that I just don’t like.
- He’s a weird old guy who lives in the North pole, but somehow makes a lot of simultaneous appearances all over the world.
- There’s the beard. People with large hoary beards cannot be trusted.
- He makes a naughty and nice list. Nobody’s perfect, Santa. Who are you to judge?
- According to tradition, he sneaks into your house at night. If Santa were real, wouldn’t he get arrested for breaking and entering?
- If you camp out near a mall Santa and observe, you’ll notice that the majority of small children freak out when put in the arms of the big red stranger. Santa is scary.
- He wears red. Red is the color of communism.
- He’s not real, and I don’t really like lying to my kids. I know some people say it’s all in fun and holiday spirit, but when my oldest daughter at age five explained why she didn’t believe in Santa, my wife and I just told her that she was right.
- Santa is a total detraction from any semblance of religious meaning in Christmas. If you’re telling your kids there’s a Santa and letting them focus on getting gifts, why not just call the stupid holiday Santa-mas or Nick-mas?
That’s not to say I’m a total humbug, but for the material side of Christmas I try to get my kids focused on the act of giving rather than receiving. We do Toys for Tots every year and have them each pick out a toy for a needy child. We take them shopping for each other or for Mom and Dad and try to teach them how to pick out thoughtful gifts that we know the other person will appreciate. Our Christmas gift exchange is usually focused on one or two significant gifts for each child and maybe some items they need like new clothes or school supplies.
On that note, Merry Christmas to all of my readers. I don’t judge people for passing on the Santa Claus myth, as many close friends and family are enthusiastic about selling it to their kids. Still, it’s not for me, so don’t expect me to teach my kids the names of reindeer or read “The Night Before Christmas” before they go to bed. Are there any holiday traditions that you love or hate? Tell me about them in the comments.