Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Our Santa Story

Two or three years ago, I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't take some fictional MAN taking all the credit for all the scrounging I was doing to give my girls that Christmas morning pleasure of a tree overflowing with gifts. Particularly back then, when my salary was lower, and my money concerns much greater. (It's still a concern to some degree, but not nearly as bad as it used to be.)

I think it was three Christmases ago that after the holiday, I shared the news with Sylvia. A few months went by before we told Riley.

I told them that while the story of one man going to every house in the country giving gifts was not true, but that we could all be Santa. That my parents and I play the role for them, and that Santa lives in our hearts.

I remember when my dad told me. I was DEVASTATED. And then he added salt to the wound by telling me that the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy weren't real, was more than I could take. I totally fell apart.

Sylvia was skeptical that I had been lying to her - but I didn't phrase it like that. I just told her that I was playing my part. Riley loved being let it on the secret. I just hoped that they weren't telling their friends so I stressed to them the importance of letting the moms and dads tell them.

It was months until the next Christmas. When it came around, Sylvia would wink and nudge at me when people referred to Santa. But she still wanted to see Santa and take the pictures. Riley, too. And they still do.

They still watch the holiday specials, they didn't even recognize a family friend of ours when he played Santa recently. They talk about the tooth fairy. In fact, Riley lost a tooth today and I said I hoped the tooth fairy and Santa didn't get in an accident tonight. Riley just looked at me, exasperated at my bad humor but still smiling, and said, "Mom!" in that multi-syllabic way.

I hear parents talk about using different wrapping paper for Santa gifts and I'm just glad it's not me worrying about that!

For me, besides the whole fictional man issue, there was also the issue that I am the only one that my girls can count on. They need to know that they can trust me. I used to worry about them hearing it from someone else, and how that would affect our relationship. That may sound trivial, but it wasn't to me. I just couldn't take that chance.

When I told Sylvia, I asked her if she'd been told already. She said she had heard some talk at school about it, and had meant to ask me about it, but she hadn't yet. She did seem grateful that I trusted her with the truth.

A few weeks ago, Sylvia lost a tooth. She still puts them under her pillow for reimbursement. So as I was heading to bed, I came in with a dollar. She was still up, and had pulled out another one! I handed her the dollar, told her I had no more dollar bills and would owe her another. She gave me the tooth. We went to bed. A few days later, I handed her another dollar.

For us, the truth is so much easier to handle.

This is not a judgment against anyone. It's just our story.


Tara R. said...

I loved the tooth swapping story! Priceless.

Wishes for you and your girls to have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Ms Crazy Princess said...

I think that it is better to do what you feel is right. That is a wonderful story! I may steal it when DS is old enough. Thanks for sharing!!

Merry Christmas!

Julie@My5monkeys said...

cute story about tooth swapping. my kids are starting to figure it out which I'm okay with but I would like to enjoy the magic of it. Merry Christmas to your family.

MarĂ­a said...

You know I love this.

jenn said...

I'm with you on this one. Shiloh's only two, but she already knows that Santa is pretend. She likes Santa (except when it comes time for pictures) and talks about him sometimes, but knows he isn't real. I don't judge anyone that tells their kids he is real, but I don't want Shiloh to see it as me lying to her when she gets older. I think we can still have the traditions and fun without believing in him. And I completely agree that Santa shouldn't get all the credit for Christmas presents! That's my hard earned money. Haha.

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

A big milestone. I don't know who it's harder on... the kids or the parents.

Merry Christmas April. Hope you and the girls have a GREAT holiday!

won said...

The tooth story....ahh, what great memories. I have to share a story with you.

About two years ago, I had to have a tooth extracted. My son said "Put it under your pillow, maybe the tooth fairy will come."

I played along.

I felt him get in bed next to me during the night. I acknowledged him. He said "Check under your pillow mom!"

I did, and pretended to be sooo excited! A few minutes later, I snuggled into him to finish our sleep.

"Mom", he said, "I am sorry. I just can not have you go 'round thinking this, and telling your friends and embarrasing yourself. It was not the tooth fairy Mom. It was me."

Thanks for keeping it real...with yourself, your children, your readers.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure Jacob knows Santa is fictional, and when he asks, I'll tell him (He is not worried about the way he snubbed Santa at Disney because he thinks there's more than one). I don't let Santa get all the credit. No way. In fact, Jacob's best gifts this year are from me and he's getting some small, fun items from Santa. Santa is part of Christmas, but he is not what Christmas is about for us. I've struggled with whether I want to propegate the myth or not and right now I've decided to just let it be. I never really believed in Santa as a kid, I was always the skeptic, so when I asked my mom, there were no hard feelings.

I have a whole post written about this sitting in my drafts, but I decided to wait until after Christmas to post it, because it deals with Santa and religion and some very conflicting feelings I have about the whole deal. It came out much darker than I intended and it seems almost sacrilege to post it right now, even though I'm not religious.

My biggest concern this year is teaching my son about the spirit of giving and not being greedy.

Florinda said...

I put up a post on the Moms Blog the other day about raising my son without Santa - period. It was a lot easier, except for his sometimes having to "humor" other people who expected him to "believe." What's interesting is that I'm suddenly encountering more parents who have gone this route, and I always thought we were really unusual about it.

On the other hand, my stepson still believes - and hopes to see Santa tonight. He's 9, and we'll let him figure this out for himself when he's ready.

Merry Christmas to you and the girls, April!

FreedomFirst said...

I have a hilarious Santa story but I'm going to wait until after Christmas to post it. It will be my Flashback Friday even though it isn't actually a personal flashback.

Jessica Gottlieb said...

Oh, just popping in to wish you a very merry X-Mas. I'm a devoted reader (via feeds) and I love that you're pragmatic and unapologetic about building trust with your girls.

I particularly love that you acknowledge and reinforce the fact that there are many ways to parent well.

Wishing you many blessings in 2009.

Anonymous said...

YOu are a perfect mom...yes you are...becasue you teach your children that it is caring and sharing that matters the most...that giving comes from the heart and warms the soul...that we ALL have the capacity to be Santas, Easter Bunnies, Tooth Fairies, Moses (had to throw him in cause after all, he did part the Red Sea!!) You are doing more perfect things for your children than anyone who preaches the stories and turns their back the same day...what a woman!

Merry Christmas April!!!

Anonymous said...

Santa. The truth behind the story--now that's a story.

Can I just say that I am just overwhelmed by the amount of Santa references there are in our culture. Why? Do we not want to take credit for what we do? (As you so correctly point out.) Or how much we love our children? Why do we need to hide the truth from kids? And look how happy your daughters are to know a truth--the truth.

So were you wearing a red dress when you re-told the tale?

Anonymous said...

Great approach, April. My mom did the exact same thing at almost the exact same age and it's never been a negative thing for my brother and I.

Jen said...

C liked being let in on the "secret" just like Riley. It helped, too, that we didn't celebrate Christmas in those days. Also, he was sworn to secrecy for other children, and he loved that part. I think as long as there's love and trust, everything is good. ;-)

Shiona said...

Oh goodness. This has become quite the issue among our friends. J's dad doesn't want to talk about Santa for some unknown reason. I never really grew up with Santa. We read Twas the Night Before Christmas but we always knew our presents were coming from our parents.

Our friends would argue that it takes away their innocence. Really? I guess I never got that. I'll have to ask around and see how m family and friends do things but I don't think we'll be talking about Santa or the Easter Bunny or the tooth fairy.

The truth is easier I think.

Anonymous said...

Hats off to you as a caring mom. I was disappointed to read that there is no Santa, Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy. Bill

Kori said...

Killjoy. I personally like to perpetuate the lie myself. But I adore you anyway, and I know you know I am teasing.

Loth said...

We managed to combine Santa with our boys knowing the gifts were down to us and this year is the first year that Santa has not even been mentioned. I think your way sounds just fine.