It was 5am on Christmas morning and I was itching to get downstairs. Santa had come I just knew it! And let me tell you, when my parents pried their exhausted bodies out of bed and we went downstairs, I saw that The Big Guy did not disappoint. Deer tracks were outside in the snow, only crumbs were left from the cookies and carrots my brother and I left out for Santa and his reindeer, and when I looked under the tree and there it was. A ballet bar, a real ballet bar, was awaiting me. I couldn't believe it! Was I really that good over the course of this past year? I lied to my parents that one time. I spilled my milk. Were those things not as bad as my guilt told me they were? Wow, that's pretty awesome! What a gracious guy! How giving! This Santa guy, what a stellar dude!
Obviously, as a child I had a great Santa experience, let’s face it, the man spoiled me. But I also remember how worried I was that I would disappoint him. From December 26 to the morning of December 25 the following year, I was obsessively worrying that I would wake up on Christmas morning and find coal in my stocking. The paranoia and anxiety I felt were mostly self-inflicted but those feelings are something I still have not forgotten. And while I realize that this is not the experience for most, I can't help but worry my son will feel this too. I can't help but see how my son is like me, how his emotions are so big. Would he obsess about being on the good list the way I did? Would he be wracking his brain to calculate how many "bad" things he did that year? Would he barely sleep the night before not just because he was excited to see what presents were under the tree but also because he was trying to figure out how to explain to everyone why he got coal if that were in fact the case? Or would he find the simply joy and magic in all Santa represented? I guess we'll never know because my husband and I decided not to do Santa with our son. This was not a decision my husband and I took lightly and in fact, it was a decision that was fretted about over the course of several years. We knew what we could potentially be taking away from him, we knew the possibility of him ruining it for other kids, and we knew we'd have to have a rock solid explanation as to why his friends were getting presents from Santa but he wasn't. We recognized this that was an unpopular decision and while we understood many would disagree with us, in our heart of hearts we knew this was the path we needed to take.
My husband and I have vowed to be as truthful with our son as possible as he grows and while Santa may not seem like a lie to most, my husband and I felt uncomfortable with it. Maybe part of it is because we dread that stupid elf and his stupid shelf or maybe we are lazy parents, or maybe? Maybe we just couldn't buy into the whole thing. So on this Christmas morning, as we're all surrounded with throngs of wrapping paper thrown about, please don't feel bad for my child because he doesn't believe a jolly old man in a red suit magically appeared in our house to provide us with gifts galore. A joyful spirit is still alive, the gift of giving is very present, and my son will still have a magical Christmas morning. No, I'm not doing Santa with my child, but please don't worry because among those presents, wrapping paper, and bows will be an abundance of love, giving, joy, and family. And those? Those are the things Santa represents, even if his sleigh didn't theoretically stop at my house on Christmas Eve.