He's makin' a list...
What I am about to tell you will make me sound like a Scrooge-y countercultural extremist weirdo.
Checkin' it twice...
But of course, I'm no stranger to that title. And I'm OK with it.
Gonna find out who's naughty or nice...
My son grew up not believing in Santa Claus.
Yes, it's true. My husband and I, both red-blooded Americans and Christmas-celebrators from childhood, opted to raise our son without the myth that Santa brings the presents.
Matt never wrote a letter to Santa. We didn't take him to have his picture taken with the jolly old elf, nor did we decorate with Kris Kringle's red-suited image. We even stayed away from Santa-themed carols.
When Matt was old enough, we cautioned him against spoiling his classmates' belief in the big guy. We taught him about St. Nicholas, the historical figure upon whom Santa Claus is (very loosely) based. And we told him that Santa himself, along with his flying reindeer and sack of toys, is make-believe.
Why did we go to all that trouble, when going with the flow of the culture would have been so much easier?
Because truth is important.
He sees you when you're sleeping...
Even before I met my husband, I decided I wanted to raise any and all future children without benefit of the typical childhood myths — not just Santa Claus. My main reason was that I wanted to be able to look my kids in the eye and say, "I never lied to you."
He knows if you're awake...
And I figured if we taught our hypothetical children about Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Jesus, and they gradually came to realize the first three members of that ensemble weren't real, what would they conclude about the fourth? And what would they conclude about their parents' honesty?
He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness' sake!
(I had to do a little campaigning on this point. My husband is quite the traditionalist, with fond memories of his own Santa-believing years. Once Matt was at the age when his peers had stopped believing, we began enjoying a few Santa-themed traditions, but they're a little more neutral now than they were back when he was small. Less emotionally charged for everyone.)
Our son is now 24 years old. Yesterday, he thanked us for raising him without Santa. (He had just been to the mall earlier in the weekend. Thanksgiving weekend. Poor soul.)
His feelings about the issue were more passionate and well-reasoned than my own were when I was his age.
He pointed out how the Santa myth encourages greed, and getting more than giving.
More importantly, he went on, the idea of an omniscient being who brings rewards and punishments based on behavior flies in the face of the truth which Christian parents ought to be teaching their children.
I think Santa would be pleased.
I guess I'm not the only Christian parent who has struggled with this issue. Last Christmas, blogger William Pike wrote a great post about addressing the Santa question with his four-year-old son.