Santa May Be The Only Reason My Kids Still Hang Out With Me At Christmas

85905728I’m fine with Santa. The world is an ugly, cold hard place with plumbing problems including a toilet that is leaking into your finished basement and littering the floor with drywall flakes that could somehow remind you of snow, if snow were possibly wet with traces of urine. We grow up, we pay the electric bill, we get partners and fight with them over who forgot to buy paper towels and then we die. If believing that once a year a jolly man in a red suit brings us piles of plastic for being good I am totally cool with that. Our kids grow up soon enough and steal our vodka and hate us and put holes in their faces.

I’m lucky in my house because the three kids I have living with me all have different levels of Santa belief. The eldest, a teenager, no longer believes but is extremely helpful in keeping the Santa mythology alive. My middle child, at age 11, is extremely skeptical and probably no longer believes, but is willing to feign belief in the hopes that this will bring him extra presents on Christmas morning. He also couples this with a sneering cynicism about the whole thing and an itching desire to declare his disbelief at every opportunity.  And my nine-year-old still full-on-leaving-milk-and- cookies-and-carrots-for-the-reindeer-out-writing-letters-and-going-to-bed-without-complaint belief. But I’m pretty sure she is having her doubts and be giving up the Santa thing by next year.

I think every parent should handle the Santa thing how they want. All kids find out the truth eventually. For me having at least one kid who still believes extends the wonder and the magic of the season. Believing in Santa is something for little kids, like still sleeping with stuffed animals and singing carols with their dumb mom when she folds laundry and getting really excited about decorating a batch of sugar cookies. I’m not ready to give any of this up.

I keep thinking when Santa leaves my house for good there will be no one left excited about decorating the tree or watching Rudolph with me or hanging stockings with care. It will just be me all alone putting the lights on the bushes and waiting for the Grinch to come on. Everyone else will be off updating their Facebook statuses with “Ugh, my mom is making me cut paper snowflakes again.” My older kids reluctantly do Christmasssy things with me, but it’s my youngest, the one who still sort of believes in Santa, who eagerly does them.

So stick around Santa. I’m using you to make at least one of my kids excited about the season for this year. When you go away for good it will just be me and my cocoa and a bunch of older kids texting on their cell phones. That doesn’t sound very magical at all.

(Image: getty images)


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  • brebay

    I think the Santa thing was one of the nicest things my parents ever did for me. They didn’t do many nice things, and spent most of the year making us feel like crap. The fact that I got to look forward to Santa, that he was going to bring me presents just like everyone else, made me feel a little less of an outcast for a few weeks a year. If they had been “honest” with us, I would have felt like the magic and excitement of Santa was just one more thing I didn’t get that everyone else did. I don’t know why they did it, and I never felt angry with them when I found out for myself. It was just, as you said, another cold dose of reality that hits you as you get older. I’m so thankful I got those few years of thinking that there was magic, that someone cared, that things were possible.

  • Beth

    I realized that our civilization has reached a saturation level of “fuckedupedness” when my 11 year old DOESN’T necessarily disbelieve in Santa Claus, but DOES articulate to me that she finds the whole thing to be very “Orwellian” that Santa is invading her privacy and knowing that she’s being bad without providing her any form of due process or ability to rebut her parents claims that she’s being bad.

    • Bunny Lucia

      You have an extremely smart little girl on your hands. That’s going to get difficult once she becomes a teenager.

    • Beth

      *long sigh*

      Yeah…. My husband and I are already working on our doomsday scenarios for those years…

    • Dusty

      I will cry tears of joy if my daughter refers to Christmas as “Orwellian” at 11.

  • Kheldarson

    You’ll just need to tweak the holiday tradition, Eve! That’s what we did in in my parents’ house as we got older (granted I have two brothers who were 10 and 12 years apart from me, so we had a very long Christmas season but…). We went from Rankin-Bass all the time to It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street (personal tradition now: Hogfather. If you don’t know what that is, look it up. It’s great. Best book adaptation ever.)

    Mom let us decorate the house and tree as well, keeping herself hands off. And since Dad got excited for the season as well, we tended to too. Especially since he’d help us decorate. It was always one big decorating day with Christmas music and cookies. But that’s what worked with us; I’m sure, though, you can find some way to tap into your kids’ enjoyment :)

    • Eve Vawter

      all I know is that I read your comment as “twerk” the tradition

    • Kheldarson

      LOL! Well I guess you could do that too; I mean all the cool kids are if MTV has taught me anything! :P

  • Kay_Sue

    What, Eve, the lights of a glowing cellphone just don’t have the same Christmas-y feel as the lights on a tree for you?

    I am really dreading having teenagers. My oldest stepdaughter is 11 too–I am pretty sure she does not believe, but we don’t want to ask, just in case she still does…it just seems like it is going by far too fast. The space between her and our youngest seriously accentuates it. He’s three, and just really catching on to Santa. Everything is magical. I know the whole point is to get them all grown up and responsible–and she’s very intelligent, mature and wonderful for an 11 year old, I can see that she’s going to be a great adult when we get through adolescence–but I wish she (and all of them for that matter) would slow it all the hell down.

    • Justus Hattingh

      Dear Kay, i feel for your info and understand it. What would make any kid – child great when they are adults ? Not only what they know but how they live in relationship with their Creator. That would make them trustworthy and wonderful to have as friends, colleges and partners in life. I hope that they do find God before He comes back, and that they would know Him by heart and spirit in their lives. Blessings.

  • Emma Lewis

    For all the beautiful fans, enjoy the read. :)

  • Justus Hattingh

    Have the parents ever told their kids that god is that Father Christmas, whether he is a women or man, Buddah or Alla, Hiri Crishna or Baal. God is Father Christ mas ! Is that the kind of God you serve, wow i hope he saves you all from the end of the world to come too.

    • There’sAlwaysGottaBeOne…

      You must be fun at parties… Geez…

    • Justus Hattingh

      I use to be entertained by my parents too with a Santa Claws when i was young up to 5 or 6 years old. Then n they stopped. No idea why, it just did. Years later, about 15 to 18 i think, can’t remember to the point, we talked about facts and i found that we do not believe in it. That was normal, we made no issue of a Christmas as such. Why would people still do it today ? Just making the Jews and businesses rich who wants your / our money and wants us to be in debt !! Make things with your hands and give that to families who you love.

    • Justus Hattingh

      Friend, i tell you the truth, yes i am the fun of a party. People love me and love to be with me. I am a do’er and not just a talker to tell you what to do and what not to. But i expect that everybody with me would at lest know the basic principals of life, to be friendly and loving and caring to others too.

  • Jessie

    Well, I don’t know about your kids, but I know my younger sister and I still (at the ages of 21 and 25, and WELL out of Santa-believing territory) take joy in helping our mother decorate the house every year. We always have, Santa or no Santa. I think the key was our mom being able to change with our ages, giving us new tasks to perform like stringing lights on the tree/hanging up the FANCY GLASS ornaments or putting yard decorations up, instead of the little kid jobs like leaving cookies out or hanging the plastic ornaments.
    I think your kids will still find something to enjoy about it even after the belief in Santa has fully waned, as long as you find ways to keep the spirit alive in them. :)

  • Jessie

    Also, I feel I must add this: While there may not be a real, immortal man who comes down my chimney and leaves gifts, I still believe Santa is real in a way. Regardless of if you are adult or child, religious or not, male or female, Santa is the embodiment of joy and goodwill, the spirit of generosity and love that makes Christmas the magical time of year that it is. Just take the well known “Yes, Virgina” passage and you will understand what I mean.

  • Iwill Findu

    Kids will always find ways to be excited for Christmas in my family it’s the one time my whole family gets together. My Uncles all thought the family was getting to big to keep doing the family supper and wanted to split up and my generation (the cousins) all pretty much killed that idea, so we had to rent a hall to hold us all. Embrace the changes but find out what traditions are worth keeping.

  • Dusty

    I’m the secular Grinch in our family, setting up a pre-lit rattan xmas tree sculpture in lieu of anything green and/or requiring decoration. My 19 year old daughter visibly balked when I told her I was skipping stocking stuffers altogether this year.

    Given that her dad and I are expecting a new baby, she’s decided we must reinvent the holiday in our own wacky, secular way: so far she’s convinced me to set up the tree (first time in three years, but lights only, no decorations) and confessed that stockings are her favorite part (usually it’s just toiletries, but I wrap every stupid razor and stick of deodorant). I feel a bit bad because I sincerely believed she’d outgrown the holiday, but she’s clearly insanely excited about having an excuse to force me to embrace it again. The fact that her big gifts still come “from Santa” every year probably has something to do with it.

    • Iwill Findu

      Any reason to get pumped about getting toiletries.