My mom believed in Santa until she was 12, and when she found out, she had a crisis of faith. She thought her parents had lied to her. She thought God didn’t exist anymore. She didn’t know what to believe.
So we grew up knowing about Santa, but not actually believing in Santa. We took some Santa pictures each year, until the local neighborhood mall Santa was found out to be a sex offender, and watched shows where Santa was featured. We were instructed to not ‘ruin the story’ for other kids, so all through elementary school I kept my mouth shut when people asked if I believed in Santa. I knew presents came from my parents, that Christmas was about Jesus, and that there was some historical parts of the Santa story, as we learned about St. Nicholas and other world traditions around the Christmas time. I never felt like I was missing out.
Boof was raised in a totally different way. He believed in Santa. He got Santa presents every year, and doesn’t seem too damaged by learning it was a made up story. But when we got together I told him that Santa was not going to happen in our house. I wanted it to be like how I was raised. His mom was offended, thinking I was saying she was a bad mom for ‘lying’ to her kids about Santa. I didn’t actually believe that, or even say that, I just don’t know why Santa is such a big deal. I don’t mind imaginative play, or even learning about Santa, but I just can’t imagine teaching Potamus that his gifts come from a big guy dressed in red who comes down the chimney.
Now that Potamus is getting to the age where traditions and stories start to become a part of his life, I wonder how I, or we, will handle the Santa story. I don’t think Boof feels really strongly one way or the other, whereas I still feel squeamish about the whole thing. And yet, I don’t want my upbringing or brainwashing, to be transferred to my kid, who is perceptive and probably wouldn’t believe in a Santa story past 5 anyway. But I can’t help think about how religious stories and Santa/Tooth Fairy/etc stories are linked together. We learned about the spirit of Christmas without having it be attributed to Santa. But then, has that shaped my agnosticism…the lessons that goodness and love aren’t attributed to something like Santa…or even Jesus…like did my parent’s inadvertently set me up to struggle with any thing related to faith?