It's December. The stockings are hung, the tree is lit and my children still don't believe in Santa Claus. This is the time of year I am filled with joy and happiness, but also know that I will inevitably come face to face with a few awkward moments because my children have never believed in Santa. For reference, my children are ages 10, 8, and 3. With regard to the older two, we are nearly out of the woods, but we still have years to go with the little one. I don't know at what age we begin to assume a child knows Santa is not real but I can assure you that three is not the age.
Yes, they know about Santa. It would be impossible to avoid at school, with other kids and in books and movies. They know the stories and all of the Santa songs. They just know that it's all pretend and they always have.
This is the part where parents are shocked. They imagine I take the fantasy world of Santa within the mind of a toddler and I smash it by telling him that it is all made up. But I have to tell you, it's not even remotely that dramatic. The fact that they never idolized a fictional story means they held no emotional attachment to it. It's a fun story but the first time they asked me if Santa really comes down our chimney, I said "no." I don't even remember the conversation in fact. There was no tantrum or crying or shock. No feeling of betrayal for all the times he asked over the last decade of his life and I told him "yes" even though I knew they weren't true. He also didn't feel the need to run out and tell any of his friends because it was a non-story. It wasn't even a big deal.
The only people who believe this is a big deal are other parents. I can't even tell you the crazy follow-up questions I get from people after I say "we don't do Santa."
"Do you think they still enjoy Christmas?"... "Do they get presents?"... "Where do they think the presents come from?"Or the judgment that follows... "Why would you ruin Christmas for them?"... "Why can't they have any fun?"...
One friend even chose to avoid us the entire month of December due to the fear of my child "wrecking Christmas" for her family, which has never come close to happening. My kids think they are in on the joke, like one of the adults; a keeper of the secret.
Now, I have zero judgment
about Santa Families. I'm well aware that I'm in the minority. I was raised believing in Santa and I found out like most kids do: from an older sibling when she found out. But when did I become the weirdo for not lying to my kids? When did I ruin Christmas by sharing in a holiday that features no magic other than the birth of Jesus Christ and parents and family members sharing gifts? When did Santa become the end-all-be-all of Christmas?
We make gingerbread houses. We read T'was the Night Before Christmas. Most years we actually have our picture taken with Santa but my children usually just talk to him about his beard since they aren't there to ask for gifts. We even have our own tradition, where on Christmas Eve, we turn all the lights out except the tree and the kids watch from the top of the stairs and my husband and I place the gifts under the tree. They EEEKK with excitement, wondering which ones are theirs.
I know we will continue to be the oddballs when it comes to this Santa thing but as the kids get older, the number of concerned citizens will diminish and it was like it didn't ever happen. Their friends will find out that Santa is pretend and we will all be on level playing field again. I know my children will have different memories of the holiday than most other kids but I am fairly sure they won't be looking back thinking I stole Christmas.