A few weeks ago, while we were shopping for Christmas decorations, I spotted a plate designed for Santa’s cookies. I looked at the plate, then looked at Bean, who was engrossed in his tablet. “Hey Bean,” I said loudly to get his attention. “Is Santa coming to our house this year?”
“No,” he replied nonchalantly, eyes still glued to his tablet. “I’m on the naughty list this year.” I couldn’t help but laugh as we walked away.
At age five, Bean is just starting to understand and be excited about Christmas. At least, the gift receiving part. Sort of. He has learned from the stories we’ve read, the media he consumes and his friends at school that Santa will bring him presents for Christmas. He has also learned at home and at church that Christmas is when we celebrate Jesus’ birthday. If I had any concerns about confusion, they were eliminated when he very matter-of-factually told me that Jesus gives the presents to Santa to deliver.
Makes perfect sense to me.
I’ve scrolled past many debates online in the last two weeks about whether to encourage children to believe in Santa. Those for it argue about preserving the magic of Christmas for naïve children, while those against it argue their religious beliefs and feel insulted by the idea of giving a mythical man credit for the gifts they purchase with their own hard earned money. I say, do what’s best for your family! And for those who choose not to believe in Santa, don’t ruin it for the families who do.
Growing up, my parents – who are Christians, by the way –didn’t go out of their way to encourage my sisters and I to believe in Santa,but they did make our Christmas experience magical. I remember being rushed off to bed on Christmas Eve, looking sadly at our empty tree and waking up to find towers of gifts all over our living room. It’s a tradition I’ve kept up with Bean,though if I’m honest, mostly because I always wait until the last minute to wrap gifts. I don’t know if I ever really believed in Santa (we lived in an apartment in my early childhood and without a chimney or fireplace and I simply accepted that Santa had no way inside), but I’ve always loved the idea. In fact,one of my favorite new traditions is tracking Santa on Google on Christmas Eve. I love the idea that people around the world are enjoying a magical experience together more than I love the idea of a stranger bringing presents. I’ve taken Bean to see Santa in the past and plan to take him to Macy’s Herald Square when we get back to New York City in a few days. We will also go to church before Christmas, where he’ll likely hear the story of the nativity. I think it’s okay to enjoy both.
Where do you stand on the Santa debate? Is Santa coming to your house this year?