• Tue, Dec 24 - 11:00 am ET

Santa Never Made It To My House, But Somehow Lord Jesus Fit Down The Chimney

jesusWhen it comes to the dividing line in the great Santa debate, I am firmly PRO-SANTA, and pro-holiday-spirit, and pro-magical-Christmasness for that matter. I have a somewhat biased stance on the Santa issue because of how I was raised. Growing up, I was never given the opportunity to have the magical Santa experience, which is why I’m going to make sure my kids get it. I’m kind of jealous of them too.

My brother and sister and I were raised in a religious home with some pretty strict rules. We weren’t Amish per se, but for a while, we didn’t have TV because it was “bad,” and I felt shamed by my church youth group for listening to secular music. You know, the usual.

My mom has since come a long way, and she’s apologized for the ultra-conservative way we were raised. I’m betting that if she could go back in time, she’d let us fall for Santa hook, line, and sinker. But if memory serves me right, Santa was contraband around my house at Christmas. He didn’t fit in with the whole “Jesus is the reason for the season” message, so his fat ass was left out in the cold.

My parents divorced when I was 10, and I do remember my dad still trying to half-heartedly make Christmas special. Of course, he didn’t have Santa on his side, but he did give us a bunch of small gifts that were tagged “From Jesus.”

While I guess it was well-meaning, or deluded, I’m not sure, it was also pretty confusing. When I was a kid, I understood quite a bit about Jesus because I spent every single Sunday in Sunday School. But no one ever told me that Jesus would come to my house on Christmas and give me every wish my little heart desired. Also, Jesus turned out to give pretty crappy presents. (Let it be noted that my dad was notoriously cheap.)

I want to make clear that this isn’t a knock on Jesus. I still believe in God and Jesus, but I’ve questioned religion big time and have drastically different beliefs from what I was told when I was younger. Also, I think Jesus can take a joke. I mean, if his masses of Facebook followers are any clue, He must have a pretty good sense of humor. (LIKE IF YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES!!!!)

So really, Jesus isn’t the issue in all of this, even though he got a totally bad rap from the crappy gift giver that was my dad. I think my bigger beef with all of these holiday shenanigans is parents that take the whole “Santa issue” too seriously.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot because I’m trying to figure out what we’re going to tell my sons in a few years as they start to understand Christmas. Obviously, we’re going to let them enjoy Santa, but I don’t think we’re going to try to lace every interaction with St. Nick with some kind of hidden agenda about whether a kid is naughty or nice.

Why can’t kids just enjoy something for what it is without an underlying lesson? My husband and I have heard other parents talk about how they’re going to explain Santa to their kids to help them understand the concept of right and wrong. Um, does it really matter? Do you think your six-year-old is even thinking that deeply about Mr. Claus? I doubt it.

Sometimes life just isn’t that serious. Sometimes it’s okay to believe in something because it’s fun and it gives you pleasure. Also, it isn’t lost on me that taboo Santa has a Naughty or Nice List, and judgy religious people often use the same motivation to get people to do what they think is right or wrong.

It’s a parent’s prerogative whether or not their kids believe in Santa—though I can tell you from personal experience that they may feel a little gypped 20 years down the road. But parents that have a special agenda for the holiday season that fits in with their belief system may want to take a beat and have a glass of wine while they’re at it.

But I digress… Maybe it’s because of my Santa-deprived childhood that I’m really into Santa Claus for my kids. I even read some comments from Mommyish readers on a prior Santa thread about older parents that still give their adult kids Santa stockings for the holidays. That made my heart melt, and I definitely want to do that for my kids in the future.

The holidays are supposed to be fun and not overly serious. I also think a belief in God can fit in well with the holiday spirit. For kids, believing in Santa gives them something to look forward to, so why spoil it? Gifts marked “From Jesus” may be taking it a little far.

(photo: Getty Images)


You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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  • kristen

    Merry Christmas!! I am 30 and not only does Santa still bring me and my siblings stocking stuffers but we make sure he brings our parents some too.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Merry Christmas to you too! I think that’s so sweet. :)

    • ElleJai

      I ensure Santa visits my mum yearly.

      My dad and stepmom would think I’d lost the plot since I’m 26, but that’s more fun for me instead!

  • LadyClodia

    When I was little before my parents divorced and my mom remarried we did Santa, and I enjoyed it. I also stopped believing before they divorced, I think I was 8 or 9 when they divorced, but I think I still went along with it and liked it. My brother is 3 years younger than I am, but I have no idea when he stopped believing (I should ask him.)
    Anyway, after my parents divorced my mom remarried a very conservative man. Also, he was a former Jehovah’s Witness and he still had some of the baggage because they don’t celebrate any holidays. For a few years we didn’t even have a Christmas tree because it was a formerly pagan symbol that “the church” appropriated. We had a nativity scene, but that was it. My stepfather was also incredibly cheap, so we got a couple of presents (usually religious t-shirts and a craft kit.) My dad still did his best to make Christmas special, and I remember thinking that my mom and stepfather’s handling of Christmas was extreme and kind of stupid. But then, every holiday had pagan elements to him, so we also didn’t celebrate Easter or Halloween. Although, some years later we did do a Christmas tree and some stuff for Easter, but never Halloween. The inconsistency was weird, but it was probably because our church wasn’t like that, and he was the extreme one in the church.
    I was never able to personally reconcile the inconsistencies, and now I’m an atheist, but we celebrate all of the holidays. My older son goes to a Catholic preschool so he gets the religious stories there, but we definitely don’t do them at home. The Flying Spaghetti Monster sits at the top of our tree, and Santa brings presents for the kids, just as it should be.
    Happy Holiday!

    • Bethany Ramos

      Flying Spaghetti Monster!! Ramen.

    • LadyClodia

      Here’s a crappy cell pic of FSM spreading his noodly goodness in our home. I made him 7 years ago, and he’s sat atop our tree every year since. Ramen.

    • Bethany Ramos

      This makes me soooo happy. LOL

    • pixie

      This is fantastic.

    • Ddaisy

      OMG I love it. I need one of those. I may be a practicing Catholic, but I definitely still want a Flying Spaghetti Monster instead of an angel on my tree!

  • pixie

    I have a friend on Facebook who, yesterday, made a status about not believing the number of people he sees lining up for photos with Santa who don’t believe in CHRISTmas. Emphasis on Christ. I really wanted to tell him that kids can believe in Santa and not do the whole Christian Christmas baby Jesus thing (I did, being raised in a non-denominational/atheist household with no nativity scene, no mention of baby Jesus, etc). But I’m also not into the whole starting drama on Facebook thing.

  • Heather

    Santa is the best. My son is so excited. And to be honest, it is handy to remind him that santa is watching when he misbehaves, but we don’t take it too seriously. He’ll get presents even though he’s a 3 year old terror. LOL

  • Mab123

    I’m 29 years old and I can’t even remember the last time I received a single Christmas gift from my parents. Now before anyone mistakingly feels bad for me, I must admit that Santa pulls through every single year, lol! The first Christmas my fiancée and I spent together he was originally a tad confused by all the “To Bob: Love, Santa” gift tags and presents, but he got over it real fast. In fact, we now talk about doing it the same exact way for our future kids. As a child I was raised Catholic, we read books together as a family each year starting December 1st about St.Nicholas/ Santa. It was very clearly explained that if you have faith, love and goodness in your heart, St. Nicholas/Santa will live on forever! I think that really helped me growing up because when the time came for the inevitable “Santa isn’t real” school yard talks, I already knew it was coming and more importantly, that they were wrong. Every year now I too try my best to magically embody Santa, like when I pay for the people behind me in line at the drive-thru, pay for the next few car’s toll booth fees, put money towards a family with children’s layaway account, and when Bob and I sponsor a child from a charity gift tree. Doing little things like that helps remember not only “the reason for the season” but also truly brings me just as much enjoyment as those I’m helping! I hope that all of your “Santa’s” bless you with a magical, wonderful Christmas, and of course some great presents too!

    • MellyG

      That’s fantastic – my dad once told me, when i was questioning Santa, that you only got presents if you believed – when you stopped believing, no presents. I’m in my 30s and dad still gives me gifts from santa because i’ve never told him i don’t believe! can’t wait until he’s ‘Santa” for the future grandkids, lol

    • Armchair Observer

      That’s the rule in my family, too. With no littles left, somehow there are still always Santa presents.

    • Andrea

      *wipes tears*
      Merry Christmas!!!

  • Momma425

    My daughter gets most of her gifts from Santa- but honestly, we could say the presents are from Jesus or us or the Boogyman, and she would still be thrilled.
    The Jesus story is a beautiful one, whether or not you believe. I think it is too complicated at this point for my four year old, so she gets a very watered down version. That’s enough for now.
    Merry Christmas!!

    • Magrat

      My parents at some point got bored with “From Santa” and started changing things up. Very few presents say who they’re from – we make up something like “Harry Potter” or “A Pirate” or something relevant to the gift (my sister made me a pair of feather earrings from “A Cold Bird”). Once my sister got my mom a nice kitchen cleaver, “From Death.” We called it the Death Knife. It was a pretty big hit.

  • Pumplestilskin

    My youngest firmly believes, and I cannot convince her otherwise, that Santa is God. On her own she decided that when Jesus died he went to Heaven and told God he wanted all the children in the world to have a gift on his birthday. So now, every year , God dresses up like Santa and delivers gifts. I grew up with my dad and (step) mom. She was Jehovah’s Witness and my dad went along with it. I, however, celebrated Christmas and all holidays at my bio moms house. My step father forced me to say I believed in Santa or I wouldn’t get my presents. So I had a love hat relationship with Santa. My husband grew up loving Santa though so I agreed to do it. I’m glad I did. My kids know the “reason for the season”. We go to church and talk about God a lot. Santa though, he’s just plain fun.

    • Pumplestilskin

      Love /hate, not love hat… Yeesh

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      OMG when I saw that…I loved it! I wanna start saying it on purpose. :)

    • Simone

      Yeah. I now have a ‘love hat relationship’ with lots of things.

    • Kheldarson

      Can I say that I love your youngest’s reasoning? That’s just pure awesome.

    • Pumplestilskin

      Her whole reasoning also includes that if God made the whole world in six days then he certainly has the magic to deliver all the kids presents in one night. I really can’t fault her logic, lol

    • Bethany Ramos

      Agreed, I love it!

    • Andrea

      I think your daughter is onto something. Smart kid.

  • Bethany

    I think the author’s feelings really stem from the whole of her upbringing and not just the lack of Santa. I didn’t ever believe in Santa and I never felt gypped. Christmas was always a joyous time with lots of fun and presents that were from my parents or other family members. My husband and I are doing the same thing with our daughters. We don’t shun Santa, we are just clear that he is a fun, pretend story. I hope my daughters don’t feel like they missed out someday!

    • Jo

      I don’t know….I think it is a really fun tradition and I don’t really see a reason for not participating or adamantly making sure kids know it is “pretend.” I know quite a lot of people who are unhappy that they weren’t permitted to believe the lovely fantasy as kids. Wonderment and imagination are very important parts of childhood.

  • Guest

    Could we maybe refrain from using racist slurs like “gypped”? A word like “cheated” conveys the same idea without implying that Romani people are cheats themselves (as a word that originates from “gypsy” does.)

    • Bethany Ramos

      To be honest, I had no idea that’s where the word came from and didn’t give it a second thought – but now I know. Merry Christmas!

    • Simone

      Excellent point politely put. Droppin’ some new Knowledge on our asses!

  • Lucy

    My siblings and I are all in our 20s and we still get a few gifts from “Santa.” But, as we got older my Mom would enlist our help with wrapping each other’s gifts (usually all in the same room, just in places where no one could see what anyone else was wrapping). My brother and sister got into a crazy mood one year and started addressing gifts from random celebrities. The tradition’s caught on and now every year there are some gifts from people like Madonna, Michael Jackson, etc.