Saturday, December 1, 2012

why we're a no-santa family

arty's first christmas is fast approaching. we've started decorating the house, sj has made pudding, and there are already a few presents under the tree. but there will be no presents "from santa" for arty.

maybe you think this makes us mean and joyless parents. maybe you think we're robbing our son of a magical part of his childhood, but hear me out. i think there are some very good arguments for not doing the santa thing.

1. he's a bit creepy
this may be my flimsiest reason, but i'm opening with it because it is totally legitimate.
i find the whole concept of santa kind of unsettling. a bearded recluse who lives in isolation all year round, except for one night when he breaks into people's houses, eats their food, and judges their children worthy or unworthy of reward based on his seemingly arbitrary judgement of their behaviour? that is WEIRD!
only invited guests are welcome in my house, and they'll keep their judgements about my son's conduct to themselves if they know what's good for them.

2. he's not real
we don't have a lot of hard and fast rules about how we parent. we tend to go by feel, and amend our ideas based on how things work, or how circumstances change. that said, we do have a strong commitment to certain overarching principles, and one of those is (age appropriate) honesty.
as they mature, plenty of kids come to a perfectly happy understanding that santa is a fiction made up by their parents to help make christmas a little more magical, but i'm not happy to risk the possibility that arty will see this innocent deception as a more serious betrayal, and come to question his parents' integrity on other levels when he discovers he's been lied to about the jolly gift-giver.

3. i like giving presents
buying presents is fun! we put a lot of time and thought into selecting gifts for our family, and i'll be damned if i'm going to let some other bugger get the credit for the gifts we picked out!

4. what about the other kids?
there is a deep injustice that comes along with the santa myth, and this is the real deal breaker for me.
when kids get together and compare their gifts after christmas, how do we explain why santa was kinder to the children of wealthier parents? was there something lacking in the children whose parents couldn't afford to buy them the newest and best toys? should they have tried harder to be better? did santa just ignore them because they aren't as important?
the santa myth reinforces the injustices of class and social inequality, and that doesn't sit well with me at all.

if we have anything to do with it, arty will have many happy christmases.
he'll eat pudding, he'll play with tinsel, he'll watch 'the wind in the willows' with us in accordance with smith-deGraaf family tradition. and of course he'll have presents to unwrap. but he'll know they're from the people who love him.


  1. I'm so glad you've posted this. Father Christmas was a very magical part of my childhood, however C was a child who felt betrayed and lied to after waiting up for him all night and seeing he never came. As a result he would like us to have no Santa. There won't be Santa in this house this year, and E has screamed every time he's encountered him this year! Next year the decisions will need to be made as I'm still not 100% on the no Santa idea (although that comes from my childhood experience being so wonderful). Another part of the Santa myth I hate is parents using him to make their kids behave. I hear parents essentially bragging that they still have x years left to basically blackmail their kids into good behaviour.

  2. Pre-no Christmas, we had decided to not do Santa also. For basically the same reasons. I really don't think children feel deprived or anything for not having santa. :-)

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  4. I think my main reason for having no Santa is that it's hard to justify a non-theistic position while allowing Santa.

    "Oh, beardy man in the sky that grants wishes if you believe in him and are good... such nonsense! Beardy man in the north pole that grants presents if you believe in him and are good... totes!"

    Though aware that we're going to run into some family issues at some point with cousins...

  5. My mother still talks about how ~betrayed~ I was when I discovered that Father Christmas wasn't real, and how I indignantly proclaimed that I wouldn't lie to my children like that. She thinks it's a funny story. Yeah.