Or so it seems. It feels nearly impossible to not “do” Santa or the Tooth Fairy unless you sit your child down at age 2 and tell them it’s all a fairytale, and repeat this to them several times per year. Why didn’t we do this? The same reason why I don’t do or say anything in front of a 2-5ish year old that I wouldn’t want repeated word for word and/or re-enacted a the worst possible time. They just don’t have the filter or ability to keep it to themselves and not spoil it for others. I don’t want to be strung up by another parent when my child ruins it for their child, despite being told that others believe & it would make them sad to have it ruined for them.
This post isn’t about whether you should or shouldn’t, nor is it about the reasons why. It’s incredible that “Santa” is as polarizing as circumcision or breastfeeding among moms! If you don’t “do Santa” you are a heartless, cruel childhood-stealing scrooge. That’s simply not true for us but we have failed miserably in our attempt to not do Santa, since we didn’t want to be that puppy kicker.
I love Christmas, decorations, selecting & giving gifts, the family togetherness and the joy of the season. I’m not a Grinch, but I’m just not into Santa. I could write a whole post about why, but that would just be an invitation to be criticized & picked apart. No thanks. We figured we could just avoid the subject, not say anything about it until asked, at which point we’d explain the real story of the Christmas legend. We buy gifts, we decorate a tree, we listen to Christmas carols. We don’t visit Santa, talk about Santa, call Santa, write letters to Santa or say he’s “watching.”
We had no idea how quickly & deeply our child would fall into the Santa fantasy. As soon as she was born (so it seemed) family, friends & strangers started talking about Santa (I think adults enjoy the Santa fantasy as much as kids do!) Asking what she wanted for Christmas, if she was excited for Santa, what did Santa bring her. In hindsight, we should have immediately told her (even as a toddler) that Santa was not real, that Santa was a fun, made up game etc. I try not to invite criticism of our parenting styles, and since no-Santa parents are the lepers of society, we kept this to ourselves. We have a family member that sends letters from Santa every year and I feel awful hiding them away each year. I know I should tell her we don’t do Santa (I’m afraid she is paying for these letters) but it’s one of those awkward things where I didn’t say anything the first year because I didn’t want to steal her joy, and then it was hard to figure out how to say something, and now it feels too late.
Despite keeping Christmas simple with just a handful of gifts, focusing more on selecting items for others, adopting families and buying angel tree gifts, she fell for Santa and she fell hard. When she asked to leave cookies out for Santa, we realized that our the fat-man-in-the-red-suit of-which-we-do-not-speak approach was failing. So, we left the cookies out, and we ate them. Again, we should have at that point said that it was all pretend, but it’s so hard to tell that sweet, hopeful face the truth. We always wait until Christmas to put gifts under the tree, but they are all signed from Mom & Dad, save for one larger gift some years that is left unwrapped. She has never asked why the gifts were signed from Mom & Dad, she has never asked which gifts were from Santa, or why Santa didn’t bring her anything.
We were just as unprepared for the tooth fairy, when she lost her first tooth at school in Kindergarten, and they sent it home in a tooth fairy envelope with the class “tooth fairy bag.” They had already played it up so much at school, and she had received a lovingly hand-made tooth fairy pillow from a family member, so we felt stuck. It had been hyped up to her enough that she would be disappointed if we told her the tooth fairy wasn’t real before it had even begun. So, into her room we crept in the middle of the night. A few weeks ago she lost a tooth late at night, and when I poked my head in her room at 11 PM to see why her light was on, she was still awake. She told me her tooth had fallen out and wanted to not tell me, so she could find out if it was real, or us. The tooth fairy didn’t come that night because she didn’t go to bed on time! The next night the “tooth fairy” forgot until it was too late to try to sneak out of bed (the tooth fairy co-sleeps, LOL) but finally snagged the tooth the third night.
A year or two ago, she flat out asked me if the tooth fairy/Santa (I don’t remember which) was real or just us. From the hopeful look in her eyes, I knew she wasn’t ready for the real answer, so I just said “what do you think?” She said she thought it was real. Yes, a total cop out, I have never said yes or no either way.
I think she’s finished with losing teeth for now, and since she’ll be 9 in February, I am really hoping that she’ll figure it out before our boys (4 1/2 and 2) fall into the fantasy. It would be much easier if we could be very direct & clear from the beginning with them now before they pick up on all the Santa business.
Learn from my mistake. If you decide you don’t want to “do Santa” you need to say in no uncertain terms that Santa is not real and that it is just a fun fantasy. You need to say this clearly, firmly (though lovingly, of course!) and over and over again, while also telling them that they are not to tell other people about it because it is fun for others to believe. Santa is pushed and pushed from every direction including in school (insert comment about homeschooling here), so you can’t take a passive approach like we tried, or you’ll be stuck.
It’s a family’s decision whether or not they want to do Santa, and to what extent. I don’t think anyone is a better or lesser parent based on what they decide, and I’d appreciate not being called a scrooge or magic stealer or anything like that because I prefer to make Christmas fun and exciting without the aid of Santa & his elves! For the record yes, I realize it is 100% my fault that we failed at this!
If you decided not to do Santa, how did you handle it?