Before I kick off this episode, please know that I never cast judgment. I believe what you do with your family is your choice no matter what it may be. And this includes today’s topic, which is Santa Claus.
So next week is Christmas and recently at work, I was asked by one of my coworkers if we’re doing the whole Santa routine with my daughter now that she understands Christmas a lot more than she did last year. And the simple answer is no. Now hear me out.
I have my reasons and a lot of it comes from my personal experience with Santa and finding out that he wasn’t real as a child. As you may or may not know, I am an only child and it is my belief that only children or the firstborns in their family are definitely more likely to believe in Santa for longer than their peers with older siblings.
And trust me when I say I really, really believe that I was the last to find out in 5th grade. Yes, 5th grade. There aren’t a lot of things that I hold with me into adulthood at 37 years old, but the torment that I received and the hurt that I felt for being the only one who didn’t know still stings to this day.
It is a vivid, vivid memory of mine, and I will never forget the boys making fun of me in my class, and I was so ashamed for being naive. And I’m not here to blame my parents, okay, nor am I here to shame you if you choose to do Santa, Elf on the Shelf, whatever it may be. Because I understand that society has been programmed, more or less, to consume this type of content simply for pure capitalism.
In 2021, US holiday shopping generated 886 $700,000,000 in sales, which was a 14% increase from the previous year. Christmas is by far the largest holiday in terms of spending, which is why so many retailers rely on the Q4 retailing season to drive their earnings. The Christmas spirit, if you will, is about them, not you, homie. Okay?
And if you’re any kind of influencer or entrepreneur, You know that this is one of the worst times to be advertising your content because metaverse makes you pay so much more for real estate on people’s feeds when it comes to ads.
And you may have even noticed that your engagement and story views have dropped because people are sick of being advertised to, so they are just staying off the app in the first place.
Nostalgic Memories of Special Christmas Traditions
Santa and laying out his cookies was not the only tradition my family had when I was growing up though.
We focused heavily on the birth of Christ and the nativity creche was always the first piece of decor that we put up in our house. And yes, we would even take a piece of cloth to cover baby Jesus until Christmas day.
If you know, you know. And growing up, I was always so proud of the way my home was decorated for the holidays. My mom is basically Martha Stewart on steroids when it comes to decor and I still to this day have her decorate my house along with my tree.
And speaking of the tree, we would have multiple trees growing up and they were always real. Sometimes we would go out to the east end of Long Island and get them. Other times we would go to a local parish in my town and then there were other times where we would pick them up on our way home from Maine after Thanksgiving, and we had multiple trees.
So I want you to envision a Station Wagon, with a Thule on it and with a Christmas tree on either side of it, like full on Christmas vacation mode. Okay? It was ridiculous.
We probably got like 8 miles per gallon, but it’s the truth. It’s the truth. It was ridiculous. And down here in Florida, you know, it’s totally different, right? Like we go to a tent in the middle of a parking lot, but there’s nothing like that pine scent.
You know, there’s a lot of Floridians down here who will get a fake tree. They pop it 1, 2, 3, the 3 little pieces, because, honestly, the trees do not last down here by any means, but there is nothing like that pine scent when you walk into the house and it’s just pure nostalgia for me and my husband.
And when it comes to hanging the ornaments on the tree, that’s always a special moment for us because Wherever we go to some place, you know, maybe brand new for the first time or have some kind of special memory, we like to collect ornaments.
And when we’re hanging them, we’re reflecting on those fond memories that we have together as a family, traveling to those new spas, remembering our favorites from the past, and all that.
And also another tradition that we would do was every year in the church, we would pick there were these paper stars that would be passed around in a basket, and you were sponsoring a family in need.
And I remember as a child how humbling it was to see families ask for things that we take for granted, you know, a warm winter coat, mittens, socks, diapers, shampoo and donating to our church is something that we still do regularly.
Another tradition that we do to this day is we would drive around the neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights. I’m not gonna try to pretend that we weren’t judging homes because we definitely do.
Like, who has the classiest looking house? Who looks like the Christmas tree shop, rest in peace, threw up in the front yard. And yes, if you do have blowups, please keep them inflated because they look awful during the day, like literally, they look dead. So do yourself a favor. If you have those, keep them inflated.
My point is there are plenty of traditions that you can have centered around the holiday without making Santa one of them. And of course, naturally, my child is going to see Santa everywhere, right?
On lawns, in the mall, on TV. So she knows who he is and his name. Right? But he’s literally just as much of a pretend character to her as her Clifford the Red Dog stuffed animal or a unicorn.
Spoiler alert, we don’t do Disney over here either, so those are my examples of characters that we have in our house. Now, as I dive into why we haven’t been doing Santa, please know you could possibly be triggered by some of these reasons.
You know, as parents, from the moment our child is born, we’re doing the best that we can with what information we have. And so you may feel in certain scenarios that I’m gonna talk about that you’re being called out for something that was never your intention to be harmful.
And I understand that, and please know this is simply my perspective. You do not have to live by it, but I do believe that you should be open to the idea that not everyone else thinks like you do when it comes to Santa.
A Personal Perspective on Christmas Celebrations
You know, many parents these days are even using Elf off The Shelf the shelf plus Santa and their, you know, all seeing eyes to combat poor behavior. And okay. Hold up.
Like, maybe, Here’s a thought. We just cut back on the sugar that might be a contributing factor, but I digress.
But think about that. Can we talk about this for a second? We are telling our children that there is a man who lives in the North Pole or an elf in our home, constantly watching them to make sure they’re good. And if they’re not, they won’t get presents.
First of all, let’s be real. Have you ever returned any of your children’s presents that you bought for them for Christmas because of poor behavior? I highly doubt it.
You probably don’t even wanna deal with the return process and going back to the store, let alone letting little Johnny down on Christmas morning.
Secondly, we have this guy in the North Pole judging our behavior, but we are also, hopefully, teaching our children about how Jesus died for our sins and loves us no matter what.
And he wants us to come as we are. Right? So aside from the fact that it’s creepy for an elf or Santa who didn’t knit you in the womb and knows every hair on your head to be seeing you when you’re sleeping and know when you’re awake, knowing when you’re bad or when you’re good.
It’s also counterintuitive to our God who never asks anything in exchange for our behavior, good or bad. Right?
Now, Let’s circle back to the lie that came to fruition for me in 5th grade.
Like I said, I don’t blame my parents, nor do I need to go to therapy for this. Right? But the fact of the matter is they lied to me for 10 years. The people I love and trust the most in the world lied to me and made me vulnerable to my peers, and I was humiliated.
I’m just calling it how it is. They weren’t liars, but they did lie. And yes, this was over 27 years ago. And to this day, I do trust my parents implicitly. Right? But the world that I grew up in is not the same as my daughters or your children’s.
Right now, trust in the home is more important than ever. There are people out there who try to take advantage of our children’s pure minds and their naive mindset. Right?
And I want my daughter to know that when she asks me a question, she’s going to get an honest answer and that in return, I expect the same.
In fact, I do not believe in the word secret. K? And I encourage you, please, if you have children, remove this word from your vocabulary immediately. Secrets are dangerous.
Your children need to know there are no secrets in your house and if anyone tries to get them to keep one, it is a red flag that they immediately need to inform you of. The reality is you are writing letters to your children on behalf of Santa, okay?
Telling them that he’s watching them, making them believe that he came into your house. Hello. It’s kind of weird. In the middle of the night, you’re, you’re telling them a lie and you may have good intentions, but a lie is a lie.
No matter, no matter how big, no matter how small. And you want to create a culture of trust in your home so that your children will come to you no matter what their age is, for help. Not only that, but if you’re also teaching your children about Jesus and God, which let’s be real, is a lot to wrap your head around. Okay? Read Genesis. If you know, you know. Right?
You do not want your kids thinking that God is a made up character as well. Right now, we are raising our children in a less religious world than our childhood was. In the book Cultural Captives by Steve Cabell, he notes, if America continues on its current trend, the number of 18 to 29 year old Americans who state, “my religious preference is none where non Christian religion” will grow to over 50% of the population by the year 2030.
That year 2030 always seems to loop back around, doesn’t it? But think about that, that’s 7 years from now and that is very scary. And as I mentioned earlier, one of the traditions we had in our family was helping children and families in need.
So how do we explain to our children, right, that Santa gives some children a pair of underwear or socks, and then others, the new Apple AirPods Max that are $550. So let me get this straight. Santa knows our socioeconomic history and distributes it accordingly? Come on.
Now some will try to justify this by saying, Oh, well, you know, the expensive present. I tell my kids, mommy and daddy bought them, and the less expensive ones came from Santa. All right.
So what about the kids who don’t get any presents, Brenda? Not to mention, Don’t you want your kids to understand how hard you and your spouse work to provide for your children? Regardless if the gift is $550 or $5, I know I do.
Let’s not confuse those little minds any further and instead create an opportunity for them for appreciation and gratitude and learning how to sow into others. And before you get worried that my kid and others like her are going to ruin it for everyone else, please, Don’t fret. K?
Kids are a lot smarter than you think, and they are So much more capable than we give them credit for. I’m like, I’m literally mind blown every day by the things that my daughter does, and she isn’t even 2 yet. Like, how do you know? Like, is this normal?
Like, how do you even know how to do that? And it’s our job as parents to educate our children that some families do believe, but it’s not our job to spoil it for them, essentially. Every family has different traditions and beliefs, and it’s not our place to tell them that ours is better or the right way. This goes for Santa, medical choices, values, anything really.
Right? And if you’re wondering if the same rules apply in our household for, like, the truth you know, like, you know, telling the truth about the tooth fairy or the Easter bunny. The answer is yes.
“There are plenty of traditions that you can have centered around the holiday without making Santa one of them.”
No one is magically appearing in our home and dropping off gifts. Okay? If all of this has you feeling some sort of way, I get it. Okay. I did too. Right? As we approached our first Christmas with our baby, you know, I asked myself questions like, do I take her to the mall to get a photo with Santa? Oh my gosh.
Do I really want some random old man who’s a stranger holding my kid? Am I a bad mom if I don’t lay out Easter bunny baskets like all the other moms on Instagram? These were literally the thoughts that would send me spiraling in my head with every season that came along.
And the answer is no. I’m not a bad mom nor you. Whether you choose to do the same things as our family or not, it’s immaterial. K? You do the best that you can. But I encourage you, if you have been doing the Santa routine because it’s what you’re supposed to do. Right? And you’d be weird if you didn’t, but yet you have felt that tug on your stomach to pull away from these so called cultural norms.
I need you to know you’re not alone and you need to do what feels right for your family on how you choose to celebrate Christmas together. And I’ll leave you with this.
It’s from Romans 12:2. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. That by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.
If you wanna get more of this type of content, make sure you follow me on Instagram at @macrowley. And if you love this episode, let me know by tagging me on IG or even leaving a podcast review. See you next week.
90-Day Financial Upgrade with Maren Crowley