Are You A Santa Baby?


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?

How do you handle the Santa story in your family?

Christmas Spirit

Thrift Store Christmas Tree

I really love the Christmas season, though, for me, I really just consider it the Winter Magical Wonderland season, because with my birthday on December 13, and our anniversary (and now Potamus’ birthday) on December 20th, the whole month of December is much more than just Christmas Day. But, as much as I love the magic of white Christmas lights, and have such nostalgia about Christmas memories from childhood, I’ve actually felt pretty grinchy about Christmas for the past few years.

And it wasn’t until reading Am I a Grinch or Will I Find the Christmas Spirit Someday? over on Offbeat Home, that I really started to articulate it to myself. Sure, in therapy, a few weeks ago I made the connection that Christmas has been stressful because we have managed to be everywhere for everyone for the past 5 years, and it’s exhausting (not to mention we’ve felt like we’ve half-assed a lot of it).

But as I was reflecting over on that post, I think what has contributed to my grinchyness feeling, as far as not really wanting to decorate my own house much, or get too into too many traditions, is that Boof’s family felt very solidified in terms of THEIR TRADITIONS. And whereas, my family had spent many years celebrating Christmas Eve, and then it switched to more Christmas Day, it felt more low-key. Of the people in my family, I was the one that usually felt most tied to a particular tradition, but that’s mostly around food than about the actual day or what we do. So, I liked Christmas Eve because we could open presents and then sleep instead of waking up early to open presents. Seemed much less stressful. But Boof’s family had a set specific ritual of driving across the state on-Christmas-day to make it to Eastern WA by dinner, having dinner in the woods with their grandparents, and then spending the next 5 hours systematically opening presents one by one and finally playing a game of Trivial Pursuit.

The thing is, I am just now realizing, that I expected that traditions would change when we got married. Not that I want the world to revolve around me, but I guess I just assumed that Boof and I would form a few more traditions of our own, and try less to fit into the traditions of either of our families. And I don’t think we did that. I think we actually tried to really hold on to the traditions of his family, and have me fit into them, which did work, and was fun, but then when I was pregnant and everything had to change it felt like I was the reason for change…like I was the bad guy…and not that things change when people get married and have kids. I felt responsible for throwing a wrench in the traditions, like the extra 10lbs of fat keeping you from fitting nicely into the jeans. And that wasn’t a good feeling. 

Before I had the mentality that my  house didn’t need to be Christmassy, because we wouldn’t be here for Christmas. We always traveled…even if just down the road to my in-laws or across the state to my parent’s, or across the state to Boof’s grandparent’s. But then, I was thrift shopping (mostly taking pictures of ridiculous things that people donate to thrift shops), and found the sweetest little Charlie Brown Christmas tree, with pre-lit lights, for only $20. And it’s put up, in the corner of our living room, by my bookshelf..and I love it. I don’t know why this 4 foot cheesy tree, with a giant hole of missing branches in the back, makes me teary eyed. I know it isn’t gonna be a tree we have for years and years, but it just feels right. Like we can sit around the Christmas tree on Christmas morning, before we head over to my in-law’s, and drink coffee and watch Jake & the Neverland Pirates, or not, and our house has a little Christmas cheer to it. It feels like I have come to a place where I realize that we can’t do everything, and we get to decide and explore what things we like and want. Like changing from Trivial Pursuit to Carcassone, because that’s a WAY BETTER game 😉

How have your holiday traditions changed over the years? Are you a Grinch or totally into the whole Christmas season?