Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Here Comes Santa Claus

When my son was born in 1980 I was determined to use all the best rational and Christian parenting skills I could muster.  The priest who married us and Baptized the Moose was opposed to telling children about Santa.  So, I didn't.  We had presents at Christmas, but no forced Santa photos with my baby.  We celebrated Jesus birthday by having a big party with presents, but I didn't say that they came from Santa.  Santa never asked Moose what he wanted for Christmas. We didn't write letters to Santa.

Moose was a smart kid.  He was challenging in many ways.  When he hit kindergarten he informed me that he knew that I had been lying about Christmas.  That Santa really brought those toys, because he knew we couldn't afford them.  His teacher and all the kids in his class told him that there was Santa, and he believed.  I went along with him.  By then we had moved several times and had heard the perspectives of several other priests and the case against Santa didn't seem as hard core.

Then somewhere around third grade Moose came home and told me that he knew there was no such thing as Santa.  I said, "Good, now I can stop buying all those presents."  He quickly changed his mind and "believed" in Santa again. 

We played the Santa game for many years.  I knew he didn't believe in Santa, it was just a pretend thing.  Now that he is grown we still celebrate Christmas as Jesus birth by having a big party and giving gifts.  I don't think his childhood was ruined by believing in Santa or by not believing.

But, it does go to show that things in parenting are not as simple as the books, experts, or even the advice of friends would have you believe.  Sometimes, they just need to believe in Santa Claus.

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