Blogger: Michelle Ule
Location: Santa Rosa, Calif.
We didn’t raise our children to believe in Santa Claus. It wasn’t that we told them there wasn’t a Santa Claus; we just didn’t discuss him as a present-provider. We sort of punted on the subject, especially when we hung Christmas stockings.
My mother was shocked. “I can’t believe they won’t have Santa. Who will they think brings the presents?”
Me: “The people they can honestly thank.”
We attended Bishop Seabury Episcopal Church when my first children were toddlers, and I thought the church handled the Santa Claus issue beautifully. They celebrated the feast of St. Nicholas on the Sunday closest to December 6. Along with the pastor, one of the elders, clad in the traditional red and carrying a staff, walked down the aisle to start the service. He sat in one of the pulpit seats, and the pastor always preached a sermon about the historic man. That’s what the kids knew–St. Nicholas was a real man who brought gifts to poor children long ago.
We had many friends at the time who also didn’t bring their children up to believe in Santa Claus, and that resulted in one sweet Christmas story. As the days drew closer to December 25, a friend visited the commissary with her two little boys. The well-meaning clerk leaned over the counter to hand out candy canes and asked, “Who’s coming to your house soon?”
Josh grinned from ear to ear. “Daddy!”
The boys’ father came home the day before Christmas that year.
We explained to our children that some people believe Santa is real, therefore the kids needed to “play along” with the story-line and not dash anyone’s hopes. “It’s a pretend game.”
My children took the candy canes and politely thanked “Santa.”
Some of the best Christmases of their youth, however, were spent with my aforementioned mother, who struggled to honor our wishes but wanted to introduce her grandchildren to the “fun” of Santa Claus.
An old family friend, practically an aunt, made the rounds every year dressed in a Santa suit and toting an enormous bagful of treasures. During one of our visits, when the jingle of bells sounded outside my mom’s Southern California screen door, the boys ran to see what was up.
My mom got her wish: Her grandchildren had gifts to open from Santa. The boys pretended they didn’t recognize Santa. We all played with the toys and scarfed down the candy canes.
The boys hugged Santa and said, “thank you.” I did, too.
Some times you have to punt. Sort of.
Happy new year.