The SPIRIT of the Season (Jen Henry)

I recently read a blog post debating the relevance of adding Santa to your child’sthe-spirit-of-the-season life. Was it really necessary? Did it provide anything meaningful?

I responded with a comment explaining that in my household we do celebrate the holidays with Santa and that we dive in full force.

You would have thought I had just posted that I made my kids sleep in summer tents in December in the back yard. I was under fire. Called a liar and accused of telling horrible lies to my children. It seems apparently that many parents opt to skip Santa, the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy, and the rest of the imaginary mythical beings because it can be construed as lying to their children and they don’t ever want their children to know that they lied to them.

I wanted to retaliate. I wanted to respond back explaining how they were spoiling Christmas, that they were obviously morons, and that their children would grow up with no imagination whatsoever.

But I refrained…

Instead I wrote the following and decided it was worthy enough to become a blog post all on its own.

Here it is..the spirit of Christmas…

So after I wrote my original comment and read the others to follow I got to thinking about WHY I go to all the bother of Santa. It’s simple. I WANT him to be real. I believed as a child. I loved Christmas during that time. When my schoolmates had figured it out and would argue with me about it I still tried to hold on, I wanted it to be true. But I knew it wasn’t. I was never angry at my parents for telling me that story. Quite the opposite. I loved them for instilling that sense of Santa magic in me. I enjoy doing it now with my children. As a previous poster said, kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for…don’t think for a second that they haven’t figured out that there are a lot of pieces that don’t line up. They believe because they WANT to. When they don’t want to anymore they stop believing. If I as an adult asked my mother today if Santa was real she’d say “Of course! There are people celebrating. There are people sharing gifts.” Her answer was that Santa was the spirit of the holiday…he was the reason that made people gather and share in the gift giving. She was also a strict Catholic, but she had her own set of rituals for the holidays about Jesus. Her point was, you could celebrate Christmas, the Christian holiday alone, by yourself with just your faith beside you. But you couldn’t celebrate Christmas, the spirit of gift-giving (or commercialism if you’re a cynic) without others close by. It was the bringing of everyone together that also brought us together in spirit. And when all is said and done is it Santa I remember? No. I remember one year getting just what I had hoped for, but I remember the house filled with family, the preparations, the cutting of the Christmas tree, the wrapping of the gifts, the singing of the Christmas carols beside my mother at the piano. The warm smells that filled my home, the laughter. That’s the spirit. I think Santa, or no Santa, if you gather your family together and you celebrate then you will have found the spirit of the season. In the end that’s what your children will remember the most. Not the presents.

Originally posted at Furore and Frenzy

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14 Responses to The SPIRIT of the Season (Jen Henry)

  1. SKL says:

    Jen, you rock. I totally agree with you.

    My memories of those days are of my mom relaxing on the couch (still tired from wrapping presents and putting gifts together) and acting just as amazed as we were when we brought her package after package in our excitement – while my dad tried to capture each thrill with his camera. In the usually chaotic world that was our family of six, there was a special and rare closeness. I think I always had a slight suspicion that my parents knew what was in those packages before we opened them – Mom always seemed to know which package contained PJs so we could put them on first for the pictures – but I was too caught up in the moment to care. Besides, we were a working class family and there was no way my parents could afford all that abundance – there had to be a Santa – it was proven anew every Christmas morning. Even after I “knew” about Santa, I still got that funny feeling upon seeing all the presents under the tree – there had to be some magic there. And there was. It just took me a while to understand it.

    I can’t help it, I feel sorry for people who claim they won’t “lie” to their children. No matter what lore they tell them – that everyone is the same inside, that charity will always make you feel better, that hard work will always bring rewards, that the politician of their choice is going to make the world a better place – even that Mom and Dad are totally honest – they are fools if they believe their children are hearing only “truth.” But besides that, kids just don’t think like adults. They imagine their lives whether we tell them to or not. This is not to be discouraged; it is important for proper mental development. Adults’ leading kids through fantasies is as old as the human race. Santa is just a small example of this.

    I hear some people on the blogs say that they felt so betrayed by their parents once they found out about Santa. I don’t understand this – I loved that my parents kept up the tradition as long as they could, and I helped it along with my younger siblings. All my siblings are doing the same thing with their kids, despite the trauma of “betrayal” we all endured. Every time someone forgets and starts talking as if the presents come from somewhere other than the North Pole, they get the evil eye from one of my brothers, who is trying very hard to keep his kids “innocent” for yet another year.

    I’m sorry, call me crazy, but belief in Santa IS magical. You can’t spend time with a Santa-indoctrinated preschooler and conclude otherwise. Look in their eyes. That’s not some attitude of entitlement or greed. That’s true belief in magic. Every child grows out of it soon enough, but that’s no reason to deny it when they are little.

    Phooey on scrooges!

  2. I must agree with the point this article makes. My parents told me of the tooth fairy and I believe in one when I was little, but you know what? I don’t even remember the day I realized there was no tooth fairy. Because I probably always knew there wasn’t one. Kids are smarter than people think, they understand more than they let on about the world around them – they just choose to believe one thing or another for the sake of the fun in it, the imagination, the magic.

  3. Laura (LS) says:

    “Children hold the spirit of Christmas in their hearts…”

    “Seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing…”

    Both quotes from “The Santa Clause”, which is one of my absolute favorite movies of all time.

    I think the people who don’t “do” Santa, and all the magic that comes with Christmas are doing a great disservice to their children. They are taking away that little bit of magic that stays with them through the years. I’m having a very difficult Christmas this year, for various reasons, but the belief in Santa (and Twinkle, for those of you who know of him), and all that holds for my son, is what’s keeping me going – even bringing me a little magic of my own.

  4. Elena says:

    That’s absurd, that you’re “lying” to your kids. It’s a harmless tale, it’s a fun game. I don’t choose to play it with my kids, but I do play the tooth fairy “lie” because I like that one. Shall we do away with all myths, legends, stories, fictions that inform our lives?

    Don’t listen to people without any imagination, and especially not those who are afraid of the imaginations of others.

  5. nikki says:

    Wow! I agree with everything you said. Christmas without Santa is just absurd! My son is 8 and is asking if Santa is real. My answer…YES! He won’t believe for much longer and that breaks my heart. I love that last thing Elena said…

  6. Just a Mom says:

    Great post.
    We do Santa in my house and we are, dare I say, Catholic. My kids also believe that Santa is a saint, St. Nicolas.
    If the idea or belief in Santa brings families together I am all for it.

  7. Joy says:

    I also believe in Santa. I don’t see the harm in this in any way. Why not let kids just be kids? Isn’t childhood and naivety all to short to begin with? What in the world is wrong with some childhood fantasy?

    I’ve heard all the arguments and don’t buy any of them. Don’t tell me all the same people that would NEVER lie to their children lie to them about all kinds of other things? Whether they be about “the TV is broken” because they don’t want them to watch it to “everything is fine” when it’s not. I just don’t agree that parents never lie to their kids about one thing or another.

    The people who say that Santa isn’t “the reason for the season,” well maybe not but he can sure be a part of it. We always went to church. My kids both knew that it was Jesus’ birthday and Santa didn’t take anything away from that. I believed longer so my brother could believe and Jason did the same thing for Toby. It’s about love and Jen is right, it’s a “spirit.”

    Kids are only kids for so long. Why not just let them believe this for a short time?

  8. joanharvest says:

    I guess I am a big fat ( soon to be thin) liar. When my kids were little I would put them to bed and before they fell asleep my wasband would go outside with bells and shake them so the kids would hear. Then I would loudly say ” Oh, I hope the kids are sleeping here comes Santa.” I’d hear them whispering to each other as the wasband and I tried to control our laughter. Once they knew there was no Santa they still left him cookies. If people consider it lying then I lied a ton to my kids and I am proud of it.

    Why would you want to take the magic out of Christmas for a child? I don’t get it. I plan on “lying” to my grandchild too.

  9. Just a Mom says:

    We move the fireplace screen and leave bits of ashes on the floor to make it look like Santa came. One year we left Reindeer poop outside the back door! They loved that one!

  10. Joy says:

    Just A Mom, you are to much!! I’m LMAO over the Reindeer poop!!!!

  11. Just a Mom says:

    It’s amazing what raisins will pass for! No one was going to taste them to double check! 🙂

  12. Jane says:

    I guess we’re all in agreement. I have seen so many blog wars over this subject. Those who believe we’re all a bunch of liars are just downright mean. I think they need a little more “magic” and “spirit” in their own lives. This hurts absolutely nothing and gives our children a very happy memory as a part of their childhood.

    Besides, it’s not really a lie if we believe and I do. Whether it’s something materialistic or a sense of love, it’s Santa.

  13. javajunkee says:

    😦 there’s no santa?

  14. Joy says:

    Don’t worry javajunkee….Yes, there is a Santa.

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