Christmas Without Santa, Easter Without Bunnies

by Roo on December 9, 2013

in parenting, storytelling

Remmy lost a tooth last week – quite literally, as it’s gone, we have no idea where it is, and we didn’t know she had lost it until I was talking to her and saw that she was missing one of her pearly whites. Last night, she lost the one next to it, so we put it in a little bag and slipped it under her pillow. Remmy woke up to this note under her pillow and her gift (a notebook and some pencils) under her bed.

Christmas Without Santa, Easter Without Bunnies

On Instagram, some of you were like, “Wait, no Tooth Fairy?” We started a little discussion there (click here to see), and there were requests for a blog post. Here it is, but not without some maaaajor qualifiers because I do not like getting flamed by the Internet, and especially because I don’t want anyone to think I’m being critical of their own traditions.

We don’t “do” Santa, the Tooth Fairy, or the Easter Bunny. Jack and I never sat down and had a long, hard discussion about this, nor do we feel any strong religious or political significances behind any of it. We just.. don’t do it. But now that I’ve been asked to write down why, I can explore that a little bit more in depth.

– It feels weird (to me) to actively perpetuate the Santa/Tooth Fairy/Easter Bunny thing, be sneaky, and then in a few years be like, “JK. It was a cool story, right?” I know I’m oversimplifying it here, and please know my intent is not to offend anyone. I’m not criticizing anyone who does all of the above. If you wake up at 5am to stick your Elf on the Shelf in some flour, that’s a super fun memory that your kids will look back on with a smile.

– I don’t like the whole “Be good because Santa’s watching” thing. I get that it’s super convenient, but whipping out your iPhone to say “Hi, Santa? Yeah, Aiden’s mom here…” so Aiden stops terrorizing his sister ALSO feels weird to me. It teaches (again, in my opinion here), that if you’re good, you’ll get something good, and if you’re bad, you won’t. That’s dangerous theology, I think (shoot, we’re getting into religion now, but bear with me). God doesn’t love his children and give them good things when they’re good and orchestrate bad things to happen when they’re bad. Let’s remove religion from this for a second. As parents, we don’t love our children when they’re good and withhold love from them when they’re bad.

Are there consequences for my children’s actions, positive and negative alike? Absolutely. Do I withhold a Christmas present from them? No. I cannot imagine giving one child three gifts and the other child one simply because one was better behaved. And I’m sure you can’t and don’t, either. Maybe in teen years there comes a sense of “Listen, you’ve been doing really great this school year, and I think you’ve earned this” but I think that’s a totally different (Santa-free) ballgame.

I don’t ever want my kids to adopt the concept of keeping score and holding grudges, which the nice + naughty list is kind of about.

Christmas Without Santa, Easter Without Bunnies

– We tell our kids the story of St. Nicholas. (This is a nice book for this.) We tell them that Santa is a fun story, and some kids believe that he is real, so we’re not going to spoil it for them. Is our Christmas less magical because we’re missing out on Santa and reindeers and elves on shelves? No, I daresay it is not. Growing up, neither my family nor Jack’s family was really into the holidays. Some years, coincidentally, neither of us even had Christmas trees. Now that we’re part of our own family, we celebrate Christmas hard. The tree is always up the day after Thanksgiving, we always go on nighttime Christmas light rides, we always make a gingerbread house, we always throw a Christmas party on Christmas Day (at nighttime), etc. No bah humbug going on in this house. We are about two degrees away from wearing embroidered snowman sweaters and choreographing a dance to Jingle Bell Rock.

– The consumerism surrounding the holidays rubs me the wrong way. We go really (flammably, if some emails and comments I’ve received are to be trusted) light on the gifts. They each get a stocking, and years past they’ve always each received one gift. I’m not sure if that will continue, but our focus isn’t on the gift getting. There’s no “Santa, I want this and this and this and this,” but there’s still plenty of “Can we bake cookies tonight?”

– That said, we’re down with Santa. We watch Elf. We wave to him if we spot him on the side of the road. We see him at the mall, and I always ask the girls if they want to take a photo with them. They say no, but that’s just a little bit of shyness thing going on there. Once in awhile Sophie will ask, “Is Santa real?” and we’ll say something like “Well, St. Nicholas was a real person, and Santa is kind of a celebration of that! It’s a nice story about giving, but Mommy + Daddy give you your Christmas presents.” It’s always followed up with “But remember…” and a reminder to not spoil it for her friends.

– The Easter Bunny. To be honest, I have no idea about the purpose of the Easter Bunny. I’ve done some research on it and it still makes no sense to me. I can’t get past the idea that a bunny is leaving my kids eggs when bunnies don’t lay eggs, but whatever. We go to church on Easter, get together with family for lunch, and then do an Easter egg hunt in our yard. Totally chill.

– As for the Tooth Fairy, we share that the Tooth Fairy is also a fun story. We totally promote using our imaginations, so we happily play pretend. I tell them that I pretend to be a Tooth Fairy and I take Remmy’s tooth and exchange it for a small gift. Thus, the note signed “Tooth Fairy Mommy.”

Finally, despite my qualifiers, I have this unsettling feeling that someone will be upset by this post. Please do not be. However you celebrate Christmas or celebrate not-Christmas is totally cool with me. *<|:{)}

(That’s supposed to be Santa.)

{ 150 comments… read them below or add one }

Ashley P December 9, 2013 at 12:33 pm

I love your post. Just in case you do get any crazy criticism from this.. Thank you! My husband and I have wanted to avoid teaching that Santa brings presents, etc. but weren’t sure how to do it without upsetting everyone else on the planet. Thank you, thank you, thank you! :)

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Magan December 9, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Thanks for posting! I’m totally with you on the light on gifts thing. It’s so easy to get caught up in consumerism. My daughter turns 4 on Christmas Eve, and this year we’re trying out “one thing you want, one thing you need, one thing you wear, one thing you read” for gifts. I think reading about St. Nicholas is a great idea! My only worry is my very talkative kiddos spilling the beans.

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Kelly December 9, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Love the gift ideas being something you actually need, cause its still fun to get those items too!

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Brynn December 9, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Great great idea!

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Michelle December 13, 2013 at 12:34 pm

My cousin does that and her (3) kids love it! It teaches them to not be greedy!

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Jamie December 9, 2013 at 12:41 pm

We don’t do Santa either, and were at a Christmas-themed trolley museum this past weekend, where they had a Santa. We were still going to go by an see him, until Claire (2) started saying he wasn’t real and it was only a costume, haha – we had to get out of that line reeeally fast :)

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Kim December 9, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Let me just say I greatly appreciate how you wrote this without being offensive or critical of what others do. I read another post recently that felt overly critical to those who dare to believe in Santa in their way. Others asked why non-believers dared to celebrate “CHRISTmas.” As if it’s really any of their business.

I’m a strong believer in the “live and let live” way of life. If you choose to not do Santa, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy, awesome! That’s what works in your family and I think it’s fantastic. Naturally we do things different around here and that’s what works here.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts in a positive and constructive way.

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Josh December 9, 2013 at 9:45 pm

It’s funny you should mention that. I wonder why religious people other than pagans celebrate christmas. Not to be a flame, just curious. The day in question is part of pagan background so I get that. How does it pertain to the religions that believe in Jesus? Jesus was not born on Dec 25, nor in the month or even the season at all. Jesus was born in the summer. Why that day is dedicated to him and songs sung about his birth at Christmas time is beyond me.
Just a little info for everyone to ponder.

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Amanda December 10, 2013 at 1:12 pm

My husband and I did a little research on this last year. I don’t remember the specifics, but basically, this time of year was chosen as the time of celebration of Christ’s birth because it lined up with the pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice. According to what I read, it was suggested that this time was chosen as a way to recruit/convert new beleivers. Not sure if that’s true.

I was taught in church that December 25th was not Jesus’ real birthday, so I’m imagining other Christians already know this as well. Now the question of why Christmas HAD to be celebrated at the same time as the Winter Solstice instead of when he was really born – dunno. That part doesn’t make sense to us.

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Josh December 10, 2013 at 4:18 pm

It’s possible, and now that I think about it, likely, that it was introduced at that time of year coinciding with winter solstice, as you say to bring new followers to the religion. At this point, Christianity would still be in its fledgling phase, so gathering new members would be key to its survival. This could also take on not just followers, but in those ages, soldiers to fight for the cause. Religion has always been very deeply rooted with war and regime changes. We all know of the dark ages and the inquisition and such; at this point I would be awarding a guess that they were recruiting to become a major player and as paganism was huge in those times, what better way than to “share” a special day.

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Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution December 12, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Interesting story: My birthday is on Christmas Day, and when I was a kid, I used to tell people excitedly that I was special because I shared my birthday with Jesus. Then some guy told me that Jesus wasn’t really born on Christmas and it was very upsetting. That’s how I found out he wasn’t actually born on December 25th.

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Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution December 12, 2013 at 2:25 pm

You realize that it’s not winter in December everywhere in the world, right? I realize historians have determined that he wasn’t born in December, but not all Christians live in this hemisphere. Not everybody is celebrating Christmas in the winter.

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Jessica December 9, 2013 at 12:46 pm

**Grabs popcorn and watches the comment section**

I kid. I kid. I’ve never heard this take on explaining the holidays and their more magical elements to children, but I like it. And hey, if it works for your family then it is perfect. Keep on, tooth-fairy-mommy.

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Roo December 9, 2013 at 12:49 pm

lolllllllllllllll. Grab me some Cheetos.

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Rebecca | Seven2Seven8 December 9, 2013 at 12:54 pm

I love this comment, Jessica.

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Carolyn December 11, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Oh man, let the flames begin!! :P

When I started dating my now-husband, I was totally horrified by the fact that his family didn’t ‘do’ Santa, Easter Bunny, or Tooth Fairy. My family was REALLY big on those things!! But after thinking back on how heartbroken I was when my parents spilled the beans about who was -really- Santa, I began to understand the reasoning behind this. Now that we’re married and thinking about kiddos of our own, I am ALL FOR THIS approach.

:)

I love this post. Such a good way of explaining all this.

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Dana December 9, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Thanks Roo! Love the post. Had to send it to myself to show my husband down the line when we have kids. I am Jewish and he celebrates Christmas (although has no religious affiliations). We’ve talked (briefly since we don’t have kids yet) about how we’re going to celebrate Christmas when we have kids. The one thing I can’t get past (and he insists is “such fun”!) is Santa. This post will help arm me with some rational arguments :)

Also, I used to think the Tooth Fairy was my dentist. My parents never told me that but that was who I figured would want my teeth. When I eventually told my parents they had a great laugh about my “grey haired man in his 50s” dentist putting on a tutu and climbing through my window to take my teeth! (Which, I would like to point out, is not how I pictured it happening. I was just a very rational child and I wasn’t believeing an actual fairy was coming to my house. I just figured the dentist came over to the house, rang the doorbell, and traded a dollar for my tooth!)

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Bethany December 9, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Hahaha, I love that you thought your dentist was the tooth fairy. I think your explanation is perfectly logical.

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Katie Nelson December 9, 2013 at 12:48 pm

We go really light on the Santa thing in my house. In fact, my husband and I just don’t ever bring it up. We don’t bash it either, so as to not make everyone hate us. It gets hard when the whole rest of the world is jamming Santa everything down my kids throats. They still seem to believe a little bit of it even without us prompting them. I agree with you on the presents are from mommy & daddy. We haven’t lost any teeth yet, but I love your “mommy tooth fairy” idea.

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Niki December 9, 2013 at 12:48 pm

This is a really nice take on the holidays and the magical/fantastical (is that a word?) characters. We do Santa, but no Elf on the Shelf. But, Santa will always bring gifts. You need to have good behavior at all times (not just at Christmas), and he won’t bring you coal if you are naughty. I don’t want Lexi to associate good behavior with good things and bad behavior with bad things for the exact reasons you stated. I think it is also really thoughtful of you guys to keep the magic going for everyone else.

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Rebecca | Seven2Seven8 December 9, 2013 at 12:52 pm

I love this.

To touch on the religious aspect, this Sunday’s sermon talked about the use of religion and certain passages in the Bible to exclude, and we circled back around to this, which I think bolsters your comment on the topic: Romans 8:38-39 — “38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We are loved; the end.

Beyond that, I love that you have found a way to (1) celebrate the traditions; (2) keep things simple and focused on the holiday instead of the rampant consumerism that “Big Boxes R Us, Etc” would like us to embrace; and (3) also teach your kiddos to honor and respect everyone else’s traditions (including letting other people believe in Santa, Tooth Fairy, etc).

Finally, the bunny and eggs are about fertility and spring and rebirth. The Christian holiday calendar was timed to coincide with pagan/earth religion holidays, which are keyed into the seasons and cycles of the earth. So Easter, when Christ rises anew, is timed to coincide with (and often, falls between) the Pagan holidays of Spring Equinox (3/21) and Beltane Fertility Holiday (5/1). Eostre was a Norse goddess of fertility, and eggs symbolize that. I don’t think I need to explain the role of the bunnies. ;)

This is an amazing post; I shared it, and I would love to incorporate these types of traditions if I ever get the privilege of shepherding tiny people.

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Rebecca | Seven2Seven8 December 9, 2013 at 12:58 pm

PS: I am sharing the Christian thoughts with Roo, because I know she attends a Christian church, but I am all for live and let live. If other traditions provide meaning for you (be you Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, Humanist, whatever), you get no judgment from me. Period.

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Christine December 9, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Thanks for the thoughtful post! Totally agree with your reasoning and will consider a similar approach when I have children of my own!

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Genevieve December 9, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Yay Roo & Jack! We have made the same choices for our family and you phrase it all beautifully. I truly want my son to trust what I tell him, and if I’m creatively fibbing about Santa & Crew, he would be well within logical reason to question anything else I tell him is Truth. Now, I’m just faced with telling my recently-moved-across-the-country-to-be-with-us mother-in-law that she’s going to have to get on board… *gulp*…

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Shamiran P December 9, 2013 at 1:00 pm

I totally agree with you. My son is almost 3 so it’s is his third Christmas. Up until this year we didn’t even attempt to have his picture taken with Santa and we have never told him that Santa brings him presents. I don’t think he’s at the age yet where he fully understands who Santa is supposed to be anyway but when he does, we will use the approach. I never understood the whole lying to your kids thing. Even when I was a kid, I thought it was horribly cruel for parents to lie to their children only to devastate them a few years later. Seriously, I remember some kids having to miss school when they found out Santa wasn’t real because they were so heart-broken. They reacted as though someone died and to them, someone did. It did and still does make me sad.

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Shanoah December 9, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Gonna chime in here, as Shamiran is my sister. We always had fun with Santa growing up, knowing full well that he was not real and didn’t bring us gifts. My mother was always quick to remind us that it was not our place to tell other children that Santa wasn’t real – that was for their parents to do when the time was right. I never would have believed the chimney part of the story anyway as we lived in an apartment building.

No Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy either. My parents did hide treats for us at Easter and we got money for our teeth, although I do know my youngest sister’s teeth were worth a heck of a lot more than mine! I guess that’s inflation for you.

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Tamara December 9, 2013 at 3:41 pm

That was only one tooth! Only one was worth $5. And once I got nothing for my molars… At least I don’t remember getting anything for them.

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Katie December 11, 2013 at 11:41 am

Hahahah!! These three comments are HILARIOUS <3 love adult sibling relationships <3

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Ashley December 9, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Thanks for putting this into words! My son knows that Santa isn’t real, but it’s fun to pretend he’s real just like it’s fun to pretend we’re superheroes. We live in the Middle East, so there isn’t the same consumerism surrounding Christmas (Yay for that!) that we have in the States. I haven’t had to address the easter bunny or tooth fairy yet, but I’m sure we’ll treat them the same way. I haven’t ever thought about teaching my kids about Saint Nicholas, but I’d love to read them the book you referred to! We also don’t do the naughty/ nice list because I want to teach them that our motives behind being kind to people/ obeying our parents should be out of a thankful heart and not to get things! This is a great post! Thanks for sharing!

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Kelly December 9, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Thank you for sharing this post! I like the ideas behind why you dont tell them some of those characters are real. I dont have kids yet but I know when we do i probably would do something similar, especially about the easter bunny! We always went to a resort for the night before/day of easter just cause we arent very religious but it was a great way to spend time together as a family. I think its more about the traditions that your family chooses and sticks with, not the characters that are important.

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Samantha December 9, 2013 at 1:06 pm

I really love this post. I’m about 9 weeks pregnant with our first child, and this really got me thinking. My husband and I have never really discussed the traditions/beliefs we will/won’t celebrate with our children and it’s obviously high time. Glad you haven’t gotten bashed so far – the tone of this post was great and very level-headed. Thanks for planting the holiday-talkin’ bug in my ear!

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Aaron December 9, 2013 at 1:18 pm

We don’t do Santa either. When someone asks my 3 year old what Santa is going to bring him he says, “We don’t have a Santa.” Then the person looks at me with a super confused look and I just shake my head and smile and say something like, “Kids say the weirdest stuff.” Basically I avoid explaining why we don’t do Santa for fear of sounding like a Judgey McJudgerson even though that’s not my intent.

You provided a great explanation sans judgment!

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Roo December 10, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Hahahaha I keep hush-hush about it in public, too. WELL UNTIL NOW. :P

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Kristin B December 9, 2013 at 1:26 pm

We don’t do the Easter bunny because for our family that is not what Easter is about. We do Santa, but probably not the way other do Santa. Christmas for us is a celebration of Christ’s birth for our family and our kids know that Santa is real because of Saint Nicholas, his life, and mission work. We do not do that whole if your good vs. if you are bad or Elf on the shelf. We also do the tooth fairy. All that to say, to each their own and it is important to make the choices that are right for your family.

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Jenn December 9, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Two thumbs up, Roo. This is the way I was raised, and how I hope to raise my “someday” children.

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Meg December 9, 2013 at 1:30 pm

I totally agree with the Santa thing, but didn’t want to miss out on the magic for my kids. So we do Santa – but w/o the “watching to see if you are good or bad” threats. Sure, they’ve still picked up that Santa gives toys to good kids from school – but their comments have always been w/ their own assurance that they are inherently good children.

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Brynn December 9, 2013 at 1:30 pm

I love this. I wasn’t keen on doing the Santa/Easter bunny thing either for a lot of the same reasons. However in my huge family, everyone does Santa. And it just would have been too much to try and explain to a 2 year old to not tell the 10 other kids there is no Santa. However, we definitely don’t go overboard on gifts (couldn’t if I wanted to, but I don’t want to, so its cool) and we have communicated with the grandparents that endless gifts is not how we want Christmas to be done.
So Kudos to you and your awesome traditions.
But seriously though, the whole Easter Bunny thing confuses the heck out of me.

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Amanda K December 9, 2013 at 1:31 pm

I don’t have kids, so I don’t really have a dog in this fight, but I can tell you about my own childhood experience. My parents did Santa big time (only child), and I was absolutely terrified of him. I avoided him at all costs in the mall, and on Christmas morning, I would call out to my mom and dad for them to make sure he was gone before I got out of bed. Here’s why: some stranger is breaking into our house in the middle of the night. And if Santa can do it, who else can? Looking back on it now, my parents feel horrible about terrorizing me for so many years.

I love how you’re handling these issues with your girls!

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Lisa S December 9, 2013 at 2:47 pm

This is exactly the reason we don’t really do Santa either! My husband was terrified as a child of the idea of some guy he didn’t know coming into his house while everyone was sleeping. Our own son was equally uneasy so we do something else: A dear friend of mine does Christmas up in a big way for her friends with kids. She leaves presents on our porch overnight on Christmas Eve EVERY year. So while Santa doesn’t come into our home, we do have a very special Santa MaryAnn!

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Sarah K. December 9, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Would seriously love to join the Diet Bet but I’m 40 weeks pregnant right now so I feel like it’d be a little unfair. ;) The sudden drop of 12-15 pounds might give me an unfair advantage. Haha…
Anyway, I would love to join a future Diet Bet after having this baby!

Also, props to you for posting your thoughts on Santa, I think adults are more passionate about this topic than kids are. :) My husband and I are on the same page, we just can’t justify perpetuating a made up story for multiple years in a row. But, we both grew up with Santa and have fond memories of the experience, so I totally get why people do the Santa thing!

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Megan December 9, 2013 at 1:43 pm

I love this! I think all of your explanations/reasons are great. I never did Santa growing up, but my husband’s family was BIG into Santa, so when I said I didn’t want to do Santa with our kids, he was kind of disappointed. I just don’t get lying to your kids for a few years, like you said. My family did do the tooth fairy, but I was thinking about that recently, too, because how is that any different from Santa? But I think maybe we can still pretend about Santa without having our kids believe in him – we’ll see. This is my son’s first Christmas, so we still have at least a year before I’m really going to worry about it :)

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Courtney December 9, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Love this post – thanks!
My husband and I feel about the same way as you (for mostly religious, but also “feels weird” reasons), but our oldest is 2.5, so we’re just now figuring out how to go about all of this holiday stuff.
Congrats to Remmy!

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Julia December 9, 2013 at 2:02 pm

OMG.. So Santa is no real?

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Luann December 9, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Gotta admit I’m bummed for the lack of smackdown on this comment thread. What can I say I’m sick. WHY YOU HATE SANTA ROO?! Y U NO BELIEVE

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katherine December 9, 2013 at 3:36 pm

hahaha- i like the attempt to stir the pot.

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Roo December 9, 2013 at 3:41 pm

I know! Where are the torches? The angry comments? I had fully donned a flame-retardant suit and now I’m sweating and I just look silly.

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Miranda December 9, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Getting a jumpstart on the DietBet?

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Mary December 9, 2013 at 2:13 pm

My family (my parents and my adult sisters) still celebrate with Santa and Easter bunny, except both bring household necessities. No one wants to be the bearer of the boring (but totally needed) flatware, but when “Santa” (aka whomever bought the flatware) brings it, it’s a little more fun. We were raised with a good idea about Christianity without going to church, so our celebrations have always been secular. Now that we regularly attend church, we have the secular part and the Christian part intertwined.

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Andrea O. December 9, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Great post and, as others have said, well put. We don’t do the Santa thing either but taught them about Saint Nicholas so they can understand where “Santa” came from. There is a cute Veggie Tales video (Saint Nicholas- A Story of Joyful Giving) that we watched and I told them that yes, he was real. Which helped my kids not ruin the holiday for their cousins and friends that do believe because they don’t think the he’s “not real” just that he lived long ago and Santa is a way for people to remember the generosity of Saint Nicholas.

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Emily December 9, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Thank you! I love this post. While we do Santa, we emphasize that Christmas is about baby Jesus’ birth and all that goes with it. We are light on the gifts as well. Just yesterday my son, almost four, asked about the elf on the shelf because we don’t do it. He told me it wasn’t real, I didn’t really push it. My husband and I then talked about why I chose not to and it came down to the same thing. Our kids will always get gifts because for us we are having a birthday celebration for Jesus. The elf, in my opinion, is just a little pint sized tattle tale. (Said with humor and love! The whole rest of my family has an elf – so I get it, I do!) It just wasn’t something I was interested in making Christmas about for our family. It is actually comforting to know my child won’t be the only one scarred for life that he didn’t grow up with an elf!

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ashley @ sunnysideshlee.com December 9, 2013 at 2:26 pm

you know what’s “christmas” – the traditions that you and the hubby are starting with your girls. creating memories and not just dishing out tons of dough on toys they will play with for 5 minutes. i hated xmas growing up – my family didn’t celebrate it much either but we did the santa thing. but now i’m totes into the holiday spirit as soon as halloween is over. and no – i don’t forget turkey day! gobble gobble!

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Kelly @ The Pretty Bee: Cooking + Creating December 9, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Good for you! We don’t do Santa/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy either. One of the main reasons we don’t is the very first reason you stated up there. When I found out that it was all untrue, I felt lied to. I could not for the life of me understand why my parents lied. Maybe that sounds like an overreaction, but whatever. I am a pretty sensitive person and it was hard for me to understand the, “But it was all in good fun!” part of it.

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Roo December 10, 2013 at 6:47 pm

I’m pretty sensitive, too, so I totally get that, Kelly.

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Anna December 9, 2013 at 3:02 pm

I like this. Someone had a good post I remember reading about how she worked hard all year to buy gifts for her kids and some guy in a red suit wasn’t getting the credit! All traditions that make a family happy are perfect ones to me.

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Kristy December 9, 2013 at 3:02 pm

You’re such an awesome mom! I love the way you approach this whole thing! The whole, “Santa is real in theory, but we give you your presents” is an AWESOME way to do it. I love your parenting posts because I’m planning to start a family soon and it gives me so much to think about. Not sure if we’ll do the Santa thing or not (I did love “believing” when I was a kid, but was pretty sad when I found out the truth), but I do like the discussion.

Speaking of Elf on the Shelf and the whole “If you’re good, you get something good, if you’re bad, you don’t” thing, I saw somebody who did a variation on the Elf on the Shelf thing recently. They basically have these dolls that they set out every day for a month with a suggestion of something good to do that day to keep the spirit of Christmas (i.e., giving, being helpful and kind, etc.) alive — such as donate to a food pantry, visit an elderly friend, bake cookies for our neighbors, etc. I just LOVED that idea and hope to remember it for my kids. Because while I understand why people do the Elf on the Shelf thing, I love the idea of turning it into a learning opportunity, and an opportunity to teach your kids compassion.

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Kristy December 9, 2013 at 3:03 pm

…and by “Santa is real in theory” I meant the whole St. Nicholas thing, because I do like that story and Santa is cool.

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Kristy December 9, 2013 at 3:03 pm

…and by “Santa is real in theory” I meant the whole St. Nicholas thing, because I do like that story and Santa is cool.

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Jess December 9, 2013 at 3:02 pm

I love all of this. I totally felt lied to as well when it all came to an end for me. However, I did feel smart that I figured it out.

Also, totally jealous of the notebook and pencils. Yay Remmy!

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Roo December 13, 2013 at 8:31 am

Hahaha, she loved her tooth fairy gift!

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Erin December 9, 2013 at 3:02 pm

I get it, I do. You should be allowed to do your thing without offending anyone :)

Funny side note: We used to get a ton of gifts from Santa and my next door neighbor got a very specific number (I think it was three). She was told that Santa only brought three gifts, I was not. We were confused.

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Meg @ Anderstons in the Andes December 9, 2013 at 11:07 pm

I knew some kids growing up that got three gifts because Jesus got three gifts and they were, to quote their parents, “not more deserving than Jesus”. This greatly confused me as a child because I thought my parents were being “bad” for giving me more.

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Erin December 10, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Seriously, someone should make some regulations.

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Roo December 13, 2013 at 8:33 am

“Not more deserving than Jesus.” What a weird statement to make to a child.

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Jamie December 9, 2013 at 3:10 pm

I needed to read this. We don’t do Santa, Easter bunny, tooth fairy etc. sometimes I’m concerned I’m taking away a magical childhood experience but at the same time I’m glad we don’t. It is nice to see how i feel written down and know that I’m not the only one out there who feels this way. I was traumatized when I found out Santa wasn’t real. It took place on a school putting to sing Christmas carols at a home for the elderly. I was certain my classmate was lying since I knew my mom would never lie to me. My 9 year old self was very emotional when I discussed Santa with my mom that evening. I clearly remember yelling that she was a liar and that it wasn’t fair for her to lie and tell me not to. Since then my family never did Santa. I think my mom was just as traumatized as me! Like you we still celebrate and have traditions. We go to the parade, drive and look at lights, take the Christmas trolley around town and sing carols, do gingerbread house and cookies, Christmas movies, tree, Christmas shoe box for a child in need and exchange gifts. My biggest concern is figuring out how to keep my kids from spoiling it for others!

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Erica December 9, 2013 at 3:10 pm

I love this post! Thanks for sharing! We started out with Santa with our son (5), but this year we gently told him the truth. I would just get this funny feeling every time he asked questions about Santa, his reindeer, the North Pole, etc. and I looked him in the face and just flat out made something up! :) It felt better to tell him that Santa is a super fun thing to pretend and imagine about, but to have him know the truth, too.

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Christina H December 9, 2013 at 3:15 pm

I love that you posted this! I have been debating how to handle this issue. I don’t like lying to my daughter and am not really fond of any of these make believe things. I can’t wait to show your post to my husband. Thank you Roo!

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Kati December 9, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Roo, I love your approach to this! It’s funny, because I never really thought about it until now, but I was raised very similarly, although for somewhat different reasons. I was straight up TERRIFIED of Santa when I was little – like, I seriously didn’t get how some chubby guy with a beard breaking into my house at night to leave presents was something to be excited about! So my mom explained to me when I was really young that her & my dad left the presents for me and that Santa was a fun story some people liked to believe in, but it was just that – a story. Easter was more about Jesus than a bunny, but my mom would hide eggs around the house for me to find in the morning, just for fun – I always knew it was her. And as far as the Tooth Fairy goes, I had huge amounts of teeth pulled at a time when I was little, in an attempt to make room for all my adult teeth to come in without being all wonky (which failed miserably – I still spent 4 years in braces), so my treat for lost teeth was more that I got to eat ice cream for days instead of a gift under my pillow. Looking back I really appreciate that my parents took this approach with me growing up & I hope to do the same with my kids, whenever they come along.

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Laurie December 9, 2013 at 3:30 pm

I’m sorry if someone gets grumpy with the way you guys celebrate holidays with your kids. I think as long as you are teaching your kids to be good human beings (and you are) then it’s cool to do it the way that works for you. Go for it!

I do love that even though you don’t perpetuate the standard myths, you clearly still believe and promote whimsy and imagination in your kids. I think that’s awesome.

Interestingly, as me and my brothers have gotten older (we are all in our 40s now) we give fewer (if any) gifts to each other but Santa and the family dogs give most of the gifts. This has made it really nice for when one of us is broke at Christmas or swamped with work and just didn’t have time to do a lot but the others did have time and money and wanted to do more. It somehow evens out the playing field. No one is “obliged” to the other. We are just getting things we often need such as socks and undies (being an adult is SO fun).

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Megan @ Teaching Every Day December 9, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Great post! We feel the same way in our house, but we were both grew up with the Santa tradition. I was pretty devastated when my mom finally told me the truth…at about 10 years old (I was very trusting). I remember saying, “Well, at least the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are still real.” And then my mom gave me this look. AHHHH!!!

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KiTX December 9, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Am I the only one who is amazed at your girls’ ability to not tell their friends the full-on details of Santa? Little ladies, that is super impressive for your age. My nieces (5 and 3) can’t even know what gifts anyone is getting for Christmas without running and telling the recipient right away! Not that it’s a competition, but your kids are champions for this one. And that said, good for you and Jack for doing what you feel is best for your family. Do your thang, honey!

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Lindsay December 9, 2013 at 3:45 pm

OMG OMG OMG OMG

Thank you Roo. Thank you so much.

My husband (a youth pastor) and I really didn’t want to do Santa either, but we weren’t really sure how to go about it. Our boy is only going to be 17 months old this Christmas so he really doesn’t understand Christmas yet anyway, but we’re thinking that next Christmas, when he’s 2 and a half and people start talking to him about Santa, we’ll need a plan. I’m forwarding this post to my husband. Thanks again!

SIDE NOTE: This has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I believed in Santa until I was 11 because, like I told my mom, “I couldn’t believe you would actually lie to me about something like that.”

SIDE SIDE NOTE: Okay. Yeah it does. I’m scarred for life.

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Nicole December 9, 2013 at 3:45 pm

I like the way you think, Roo.

Our oldest is only 21 months, so we still have some time to formulate our thoughts on this. In general, I agree with you. We are definitely not doing any elves on shelves, and I do not want to teach my children that being good= good things happening, while being bad= bad things happening. That’s just not the way the world works, and it’s not how I want my kids to think. However, I do have very fond memories of Santa, the Easter Bunny, etc. I’m hoping I can figure out a way to balance it all.

And, to be honest, I am very nervous about my kids telling others that Santa/whomever isn’t real… in the heat of the moment, most young kids just don’t have that self-control. I don’t want our beliefs to infringe on another families celebration, you know? Just like I don’t want to be forced to do Santa/Elf, etc either.

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Colleen December 9, 2013 at 3:46 pm

I *REALLY* wish I would have stuck to my guns about the Santa/Bunny/Toothfairy thing — when my kids were teenie tiny I pushed the point that I thought it was absurd to lie to our kids about these things — and I would have probably handled them each very similarly to what you do with your kids. There’s no reason you can’t have a little fun around the holidays, but now my oldest is 9 and his younger brother 6 and I’m wondering just HOW I’m going to extract myself from the whole charade. O_O

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Jacqueline December 9, 2013 at 3:49 pm

I seriously love your take on all of this and completely agree and will probably take from some of what you said when I have my own family. Nor do I hate on those who choose otherwise. But I maintain that stance on most things. To each their own :)

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Roo December 13, 2013 at 8:35 am

I like that stance, Jacqueline. :)

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Paige // Lively Green Door December 9, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Just to counteract any negative responses you get, I fully support what you’re doing! Not that it matters, they aren’t my kids, BUT I’m expecting my first next year and it’s a subject I have issues with. You perfectly expressed how I feel about it – the consumerism, how some parents use Santa as an Orwellian figure, etc. And I think a stocking of little things + one gift is perfect! I look back on my childhood Christmases and really, I’d pick more cookie baking, sleigh riding and holiday movie watching over the mountains of crap I got every year any day!

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Katie December 9, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Santa comes to our house, although we don’t emphasize the naughty or nice aspect, we love the magic of the holidays. Santa brings 1 gift & fills our stockings, but his magic touch is apparent throughout the season. My sister doesn’t do Santa with her kids, which I totally respect. Except… My hubby & I find it necessary to avoid her family at the holidays. Although her kids have been asked to keep it quiet, I just don’t trust a 6, 4 & 2-year-old not to blow it for my daughter. Do your kids have young cousins? Has this been an issue at all?

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Roo December 9, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Two thoughts…

First, no cousins. Well, there is a baby cousin, so that hasn’t been an issue yet.
Second, I think when it comes to believing in anything (Santa, God, wishing on a star, miracles, the list goes on), our kids are always going to confront nay-sayers, even pint-sized nay-sayers. So I think it’s okay to say, “Well some people don’t believe in Santa/God/wishing on a star/miracles, and that’s totally okay!” and reaffirm why I believe what I believe, etc.

That said, my girls get frequent reminders to “not ruin anyone’s fun.” :)

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Natasha December 9, 2013 at 4:10 pm

We do believe in our home, but it’s totally cool that other people don’t because hey people are different and that is what makes life FUN AND INTERESTING amiright? We work really hard to keep the commercialism down, and hubs and I take the kids out separately to help them purchase/make/wrap a gift for their siblings and aunts/uncs/cousins-it helps them get excited about giving. We do an angel tree and toys for tots, and they get super excited about that too. Aaand we do not do Elf on the Shelf, mostly because it creeps ME out. And no threats related to behavior :) I really like your take on it and the way you handle it-it’s awesome :)
Honestly, I still have no clue WHY there is an Easter Bunny. But I love him in Rise of the Guardians so rock on bunny.

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Kristin December 10, 2013 at 2:01 pm

That Elf on the Shelf creeps me out too!! Thankfully I had no idea what Elf on the Shelf was until I was around 20 and now that darn thing is everywhere on blogs and Pinterest – no thanks!!

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Emily December 9, 2013 at 4:10 pm

My sister and I would sometimes cry when the song “Santa Claus is coming to town” came on because we saw it as a sign that we were being bad and needed to stop or we wouldn’t get presents. Funny, yet kind of horrible in retrospect.

And (to present a dissenting view, but with no disrespect to everyone else) my family does go overboard with presents at Christmas, and we know it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is a way of showing love that you see something in a store or online, and think to yourself my sister would love this or mom has been complaining about needing a new blank, let’s surprise her with it for xmas. So while I understand not wanting to promote greediness in kids, as a 20-something I can appreciate the generosity of my family when I was little and enjoy being just as generous to them now.

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Steph Reiner December 9, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Yeah I gotta admit I was all ready for the juicy comments and everyone is all nice and blah blah boring. Where are the troooooolllssss?????

On another note, we never did Santa growing up because my parents thought it wasn’t good to focus on being good without really meaning it (i.e. your heart motivation is just to get more stuff). However, we were those kids that accidentally spoiled it for our cousins. Oops. To be fair, I was shocked that my cousin was 12 and still believed in Santa Clause sooooo….

Also, we sorta had the Tooth Fairy but she was super lazy and forgot to reward us for our teeth a lot. My mom always said she was probably tired and overworked. I’m still waiting for my $2 which is probably like $268 by now with interest. Times all the teeth I lost… She’s seriously in debt to me.

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Liz P. December 9, 2013 at 10:43 pm

Hah–you should turn the Tooth Fairy into a collection agency for all that cash! :) I think I got a dollar a tooth in this little pillow with a pocket my mom made for me (it even had lace around the edges–true story).

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Laura December 9, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Awesome post. :)I’m the teensiest bit conflicted on what to do with our family. I had so much fun believing in Santa, but when Kelly Davis told me in first grade that it was all a rouse, I went home, had my mom confirm it, and moved on. No emotional scars that I can tell. Buuuut now I can’t imagine having that conversation with my kids. Sure, maybe they’ll be ready to move on too and will see how it’s all in good fun. I think we’ll go more your route, though.

Here’s my Christmas drama for this year: we’re not getting anything for our 9mo daughter. =0 The horror! I guess I didn’t realize how many people DO get their baby extravagant gifts. Someone should report me to child services. Obviously.

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Brandi December 9, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Same here. When my daughter was young, all of her Christmas presents were gently used or hand-me-downs. The only thing she got that was brand new was a box of diapers. I figured she must really like those because she used them all the time :)

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Andrea December 10, 2013 at 12:56 am

I’ll bet your daughter will LOVE all the shiny ribbons and bows, any kitchen spoons you might receive (I’m not the only one that gets spatulas in my stocking every year, right?), and the colorful wrapping paper! ;) :D I really enjoy watching kids be amused with and play with the simplest of things.

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Laura December 10, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Omg…i’m not getting anything for my 9 month daughter either!

This is eerie.

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Brandi December 9, 2013 at 4:54 pm

I feel the same as you. Our family had no intentions of “doing” Santa, Easter Bunny, or Tooth Fairy. It has nothing to do with religion; we just were not comfortable to lying and tricking them into good behavior. Well… Olivia (soon to be 5 years old) took it upon herself to believe anyways. We never promoted it and never denied it. She just chose to believe. Luckily, we have avoided the Easter Bunny. She gets a basket and has never questioned who it’s from. She has not lost a tooth yet. We’ll have to wait and see about that one.

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Jennifer December 9, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Our kiddo is nearly a year old and we have another one on the way too, so the decisions on fantasty gift-bringers hasn’t been decided yet. But going through the ringer with teething and now molars are appearing, I don’t get why kids get gifts for losing those same teeth years later. Can’t parents get a gift for surviving the whole baby teeth appearance and disappearance instead?

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Melanie December 10, 2013 at 2:15 am

*standing ovation* (which may or may not be directly related to the fact my child has been cutting molars AND eye teeth for two MONTHS already with nothing to show for it but mommy’s frayed nerves. Ok, it’s related.)

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Roo December 13, 2013 at 8:51 am

OH GIRL. I would like for this to happen. Yes, please.

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Tiffany December 9, 2013 at 5:07 pm

We did Santa at our house, not too big, and my sis and I came to terms with the reality pretty quick. But there was a bigger lie lurking in the corners! I grew up on a farm, and since I’m a terrible snoop but a big chicken when it came to the barn, my parents told us they hid the presents in the hayloft. I would never go up there and my sis didn’t care enough to go snooping. I believed this for years! Once they had even ripped up the wrapping paper and said a raccoon tried to get into my present–that was when I was 20! It came out about two years later that they never hid our presents in the hayloft, rather just a closet in the garage, which explained why the packages were always cold. My sister and I sat with stunned faces for a good 5 minutes while my brother-in-law laughed until he couldn’t breathe.

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Kelsey Jones December 15, 2013 at 12:14 pm

This is much more fun than santa, especially since you beleieved it for 22 years! I’m laughing at the thought of torn wrapping paper and the raccoon story!

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Erin Thaz December 9, 2013 at 5:09 pm

With you Roo. We have never really perpetuated the Santa idea..not a completely intentional decision. It just didn’t feel necessary. Now that Noah is in school we kind of lightly go along with the idea but never make a big deal about it. However my children are mildly disturbed by the idea of mystery strangers sneaking into our house. I’ve been wondering how to handle the tooth fairy because i think Noah will freak out at the idea. Good post..as always!

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Roo December 13, 2013 at 8:36 am

Thanks, Erin! :) Now that I think about it in that context “mystery strangers sneaking into our house” I can totally see how that would be a little scary to a child.

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Caitlin @ {walker whimsy} December 9, 2013 at 5:11 pm

We do the same thing. Thanks so much for saying something because I was starting to feel like an outcast for not wanting to bribe my kid to be nice OR ELSE.

I’m still trying to figure out how to keep my almost three year old from telling all his older cousins who do believe in Santa that he’s not a real dude, though (you know, other than duct tape … ).

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Jen @ The Well Read Fish December 9, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Great post! I know you aren’t striving to be a role model or anything with your blog, but I’ve really come away with some great tips, pointers, and overall vibes for parenting from your blog. Keep on it hilarious and thoughtful momma!

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Natalia December 9, 2013 at 5:19 pm

This. Yes. All of this is why we don’t do any of these things either. And I have no problem with people who love to get into it! In all honestly, besides all the excellent points you have here, I’m just too lazy & uncreative to move a shelf into different shenanigans every morning! But I’m sure the kids who have it will have excellent memories of all that fun. Great post!

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Amanda December 9, 2013 at 5:37 pm

My husband said that he didn’t want to “play Santa” before we even got married, and I’ve been struggling on how to do that as far as explaining that to the kid, etc – this definitely helps. When that day comes, I’ll be a little more prepared on how to approach the subject. Thanks!

I did believe in Santa when I was little, but thanks to my dad telling me that Santa would squeeze lemon juice in my eye if I was awake when he got to my house, I was a little scared of him. That’s nothing compared to my coworker though. She said her uncle went outside, shot his gun in the air, and said he killed Santa. Horrible lol.

The Easter bunny, however, I NEVER bought. What kind of freak bunny goes around leaving eggs at people’s houses? It makes no sense. Not to mention, I’ve always had a weird thing about talking real (not cartoon) animals (to this day, I cannot watch movies with real animals “talking” – it freaks me out), so I wanted absolutely nothing to do with that guy. The Easter egg hunts were fun though. Bring on the candy.

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Josephine December 9, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Respect.
With my eldest being 3.5 yrs this Christmas, I’m looking down the barrel of this issue. He is aware of Christmas and the Father Christmas figure, but is blissfully ignorant of the concept of Father Christmas/Santa bringing children gifts. Since having children, I’ve been growing less keen to do the Santa/Easter Bunny thing. Growing up, I did believe in Father Christmas (as my English mother insisted on calling him), but the Easter Bunny was never a thing with us (my family did a thing with Easter bells coming from Rome, dropping eggs in the garden!).
My husband grew up Jewish, so Christmas and Easter were non-events, but I think he’s semi-keen to do the Santa thing. In any case, we need to sort it out soon!
This was a great post Roo. High fives ;-)

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Hallie December 9, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Yeah, that’s pretty much exactly how my mom and dad handled this with us. Never promoted or downplayed Santa, just enjoyed him and when we asked my mom said no, but don’t spread it around, lots of kids believe and you don’t want to spoil it. Easter bunny was never even a thing, I didn’t know anyone really believed in the Easter bunny. And tooth fairy was mom. All these holidays/events were just as magical and fun. Seriously.

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Tracey McCartney December 9, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Love this post. Love the explanations. Hubs & I grew up with Santa, the EB & TF. I was soooo frikkin devastated to find out Santa (discovered same wrapping paper on Santa gifts as mom & dad gifts ***gasp***) EB & TF were not real. I was really let down & sad about Santa. Like, really. I convinced myself that I saw one of his reindeer flying across the sky one Chirstmas eve…..anyway. We chose to do the Santa & gang thing with our girls . Never even considered there was any other option. To be honest, they have always been petrified of men & bunnies & fairies sneaking into our house. We actually had to ship Dominic Our Elf on the Shelf “back to the North Pole” because they couldn’t even handle him in our house!!!!!! Fast forward to now, they are 11. They have been asking “is Santa real” so it was time to tell them. I found great pins on Pinterest along the same lines of some discussed above. I explained that we are now on the same team as the original St Nick & its our job to make sure we don’t blab to kids who believe and to carry on the tradition of giving gifts & spreading love & joy to our friends & family. Its not about waiting on line for a plasma tv at 3am or buying the most sought after item, the consumerism has gotten out of hand in my opinion. There is definitely a Christian theme to our discussion. I think it all kinda goes together when you talk about the real meaning of Christmas. We even try to talk about how we should be spreading love & joy all year. My girls really know that Christmas time is a time when we ALL are together…we live 500 miles from family. My family flies in to stay with us for a few days. We hunker down and stay in our pjs most days. We bake, drink hot cocoa, watch Elf & Polar Express. We go look at lights, we pick out a gift for each other. Its really special family time that they enjoy & look forward to each year. SO many great memories have been made & traditions have begun for us. its precious to me!!! I like the fact that they “know”, I feel like the pressure is off to keep the story going. I agree with a lot of the posts above. you have to decide what is right for you & your family. Great post Roo!

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Kayla December 9, 2013 at 8:20 pm

When my parents told me *they* were Santa, around age 6, I’m told that I responded, “It can’t be you guys. You have no money. It must be grandma.”

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Brianne December 9, 2013 at 8:37 pm

This is amazing, hahaha

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Bethany December 12, 2013 at 1:40 pm

HAHAHAHAHA! Classic.

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Kim December 9, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Beautifully written, Roo! (It feels weird calling you by your first name when I don’t actually know you… so… sorry for being a creep.) My husband and I feel the same way about many of those traditions, but you explained it SO much better. Especially explaining the Santa thing to your kids in a way that also tells them not to spoil it for their friends. We just have a 14-month-old right now, so it’s not an issue yet, but I’m going to bookmark this post to reference in a year or two! Thanks!

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Brianne December 9, 2013 at 8:37 pm

I love this. Thank you!

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Liz December 9, 2013 at 9:23 pm

I’m so jealous that you decided this and have never had to lie to your kids. I hate lying about Santa and the Easter Bunny, but I do it anyway! I’m wishing my son would just call me out on it but he’s only 4. I read someone else’s comment that she was terrified of Santa. My son is also and now I feel stupid for making him feel scared about something that isn’t even real just because I’m afraid of what other people will think.

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Leigh Ann December 9, 2013 at 10:03 pm

I think this is an awesome way to go about it. We believe in Santa, but we try not to use him as a threat. Because we’re better than that. But he is a fun holiday character worth celebrating. I don’t remember any devastation when I realized Santa wasn’t leaving presents under the tree, so I don’t give that thought any merit when people use it as an argument against Santa.

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Liz P. December 9, 2013 at 10:39 pm

Just have to chime in and say I think this is wonderful.

Please note: I have no kids. I was raised with Santa/Tooth Fairy/Easter Bunny and (a) have some great memories of the excitement and (b) have some REALLY STRESSFUL memories of thinking “Santa’s watching me” and believing probably way too much for some really ridiculous things from him that never appeared :)

I’ve always thought about *when* I have kids some day how I would handle this. I see no real harm in it, but at the same time totally agree about it being weird to be so adamant about these fictitious people. (And seriously thanks for the food for thought: where DID the Easter Bunny concept come from?!)

I think it’s great that you’re doing what you feel you should do for your kids and that you’re sticking to your guns about it. Also additional kudos for the little reminders to not spoil other kids’ fun :) I think you rock!

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Meg @ Anderstons in the Andes December 9, 2013 at 10:46 pm

What a well-timed post (for me). My husband and I were just talking yesterday about how we want to handle Santa, etc… with our future children. Thanks for giving us something more to think about.

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Laura December 9, 2013 at 11:18 pm

I love this! I have a 2 year old son who is starting to recognize Santa this year…but I have no desire to start pushing the whole Santa thing (and right now my son is not a fan anyway). I think I want him to know that we picked out his presents and thought of things he’d like, and I don’t like to go crazy on the gifts anyway. I guess we have to figure out how we want to handle it before he really starts to get it. The grandparents are another story though…

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Kelly {the Centsible Life} December 10, 2013 at 12:06 am

I totally love that you shared this even though we do the complete opposite in our house. I always think it’s a good idea to examine traditions and decide for your family what works.

In our house we’ve always done a big Christmas-we both grew up that way, and it’s something we look forward to because we don’t buy gifts or toys throughout the year. Most of our gifts are ‘consumable’ and things to keep us busy as a family (board games, art supplies etc.).

Santa isn’t about naughty/nice for us, but more about an embodiment of the generosity of the season–like St. Nicholas. As our kids have grown up each one has come to know the truth in their own way and in each case we’ve shared stories (like Little House) and talked about the magic of the holiday season. My 11 year old still believes because she believes in magic in everything!

As you and other commenters have mentioned whatever you do in your own home I think it’s important to share that others do things differently, we see that as a good thing! Like you said above Roo when our kids have encountered naysayers that generally hasn’t deterred them, but I still hope people will exercise caution-we’ve encountered one family who seemed adamant to get our kids NOT to believe. Sadly that friendship didn’t last long because of it.

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Roo December 13, 2013 at 8:37 am

Yeah, I don’t understand why people feel the need to police someone else’s home. What a bummer about that family, Kelly. :(

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Shelby December 10, 2013 at 1:03 am

I can totally teach you what I remember of the choreography from our show choir dance for jingle bell rock. I gotchu

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Roo December 13, 2013 at 8:37 am

OOOOOH please do. Did you guys wear the Mean Girls outfits?

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Amanda December 10, 2013 at 7:35 am

Love this! I was so confused as a kid that Santa brought my bratty neighbor every gift on her list and only one from mine. I couldn’t figure out what I’d done wrong to not deserve those extra presents. Your idea makes so much sense! We don’t have kids yet (and I have to chat with hubby to see what he thinks), but I’m filing this away for future reference.

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Patti McHugh December 10, 2013 at 9:16 am

We don’t have kids yet, but when we do, we’ll probably follow what you wrote here. My husband is Christian (he goes to church here and there) and I’m Buddhist (I don’t go to temple unless I’m at my mom’s). Growing up we just celebrated Christmas almost like an “American” holiday since we never did this in Thailand where my family’s from. I never celebrated Easter (you know, that whole Buddhist thing) and the Tooth Fairy never existed for me growing up and I’m alright with that.

I hate the consumerism of Christmas gift giving. In our family, it’s about the memories and experiences. We rather go watch a movie together or visit NYC and the tree at Rockefeller Center than spend money on something that will be tossed aside and forgotten in a few weeks or months. I buy things year round when it’s needed (and sometimes wanted… *cough* craft room stuff *cough*) and I don’t need one day to make it okay to spend on myself and others. That makes Christmas stress free in our family. We just gather together and just enjoy each other’s company.

Thanks for another awesome post. Happy holidays!

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Alexa December 10, 2013 at 9:42 am

This is exactly what my parents did with me and I turned out fine. Whenever I tell people how I knew Santa wasn’t real by age 4, people are appalled. It didn’t take any of the magic out of Christmas for me though. But now I have to work things out with my husband about what we’re going to do with our kids.

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Roo December 13, 2013 at 8:46 am

I’m really glad to see this comment here. Christmas can totally be magical and lovely without Santa. Thanks, Alexa!

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Glamamom December 10, 2013 at 10:13 am

To be perfectly honest, I never gave Santa and the Easter Bunny that much thought. It’s just a family tradition/cultural thing that my family did and so I do it with my kids. When you break it down like that, it does seem kinda silly and I totally get the consumerism aspect and not wanting to raise children with threats but it sure is FUN…and effective ;)

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Roo December 13, 2013 at 8:49 am

Hahahaha @ your last line.

I think that is sort of what rings true for us (the family tradition aspect) – at least in the beginning. We didn’t give it much thought because the both of us grew up without it (although not at all for the same reasons).

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Rachel S. December 10, 2013 at 10:48 am

My husband and I have been going back and forth about the whole Santa thing too. We are kind of going off of what our kids think an say vs. us really promoting him. My family never did the whole easter bunny thing either.

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Mary Renee December 10, 2013 at 10:51 am

I’ve seen so much lately about dealing with Santa, Elf on a Shelf, and the Easter Bunny. They’ve all been great, just not the right fit. This is perfect. Definitely going to utilize this next year when she’s old enough to understand and in the coming years.
Thanks for this!

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Rebecca December 10, 2013 at 11:13 am

Never really thought about this (maybe because I don’t have kids), but I think it’s a great take on everything. And I mayyyyy copy your ideas 100% verbatim and reference this exact post when I do have kids. :)

Great stuff, as usual, Roo!

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Roo December 13, 2013 at 8:46 am

Hahaha “AUNTIE ROO SAID NO SANTA.”

Just kidding. Don’t tell your future children that.

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Deb P. December 10, 2013 at 11:28 am

Thank you so much for your well put together article. My kids are older now but we have always raised them with the very same beliefs as you. We celebrate Birthdays – go all out for the kids!! So, when Christmas arrives it is all about Jesus and his special day. We spend it loving on others – celebrating that way. My kids have always felt strange sitting on a strangers lap and being told in a song that HE knows when you are sleeping – he knows when you are awake . . and feel that they are being stalked. ha-ha!!

I know everyone has their own way of celebrating traditions. And there is no right or wrong way. You did a great job at pointing out both sides Thank you!!

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MissCaron December 10, 2013 at 11:44 am

I love this, Roo! I totally want to do this with my future child(ren). I cannot stand the whole Elf on a Shelf thing and the Easter Bunny is ridiculous. I’d much rather share the story of St. Nicholas and how we keep that spirit alive at Christmas when we celebrate Christ’s birth. Thanks for sharing the details of your traditions. :-)

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jules December 10, 2013 at 11:58 am

I can’t stand that a silly little thing like posting a cute pic of what one of your girls got from the “Tooth Fairy” must warrant a huge blog post on why you do things the way you do. Celebrate however you would like, sorry if people feel differently, but you are not living their life! I don’t have kids, but however you raise them, as long as they are happy and healthy, they can celebrate and believe whatever they darn well want! :) SO happy you don’t shower them with unending christmas gifts!

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Paula December 10, 2013 at 12:29 pm

When i was a kid Iwe didn’t do Santa and I used to like seeing how presents slowly piled up under the tree throughout the month (not that we got a lot, but there were 7 people so it all adds up). It was nice to know who gave what too and write thank you notes to my grandparents, who I’m sure appreciated the cute scrawls of their grand kids. BUT if I ever have a kid I think I’d have Santa bring the stockings and a dusting of “snow” because I like the “magic” of Christmas and a few little stocking stuffers is a nice bit of tradition while not making kids greedy or taking away from parents gifts. I also like the idea of a bit of glitter and a handful of random coins from the tooth fairy, maybe even some foreign coins and a whimsical little trinket or two like a bit of colored rock or a feather – because she’s a fairy and she would love those things. We did have an egg hunt for Easter, we knew it was my mom and we knew that she hid them VERY well (in our giant house, not outside) and sometimes we would find an especially well hidden one a month later which was rather fun. I’d definitely do it that way. We also made “may baskets” with candy, flowers, a little note, etc to give to the neighbors. Neither of these was meant to have anything to do with the Easter bunny or anything else, we were just told it was for us to have fun (egg hunt) and to bless our neighbors (basket).

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Heidi December 13, 2013 at 3:18 pm

We did the same over Christmas! I loved watching the pile grow as the month went on, too, and picking the perfect gift (that you could afford) for a little sister, and I loved the “wrapping parties” with two or three siblings all sharing the paper, tape, ribbons, and bows (six kids, no room for Santa). Our stocking stuffers were always “from Santa”, but Dad’s handwriting is so distinctive, no one believed it for an instant. That I remember, we never talked about the real/not-real controversy as a family, and it didn’t come up with friends, either. Dunno how I escaped it, but there it is.

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Laurie December 10, 2013 at 12:55 pm

FINALLY! Someone who agrees with me!!!! I have never been comfortable lying to my children about these things. I have heard of people who have a hard time believing in God because how do you distinguish between Santa not being real when your parents told you he was and God being real when your parents told you He was? And also, I don’t like lying. My oldest daughter asked if Santa was real over and over again and I kept trying to answer with evasions but she wouldn’t stand for it, so we told her the truth and asked her to be discreet. Our Christmases and Easters and Tooth Fairy experiences have all be great. Our children are happy and have great imaginations and we have very fun holidays with plenty of traditions. We also go very light on presents because I don’t want my children to be materialistic or to feel entitled and it is easy to fall into buying more and more every year until it gets out of control and your children grow to expect it. And we are able to focus on the religious aspects of holidays and on family time. I’m glad you wrote this post. Thank you.

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Sue December 10, 2013 at 5:04 pm

May sound weird, and I know it wasn’t your intent, but reading this post really helped affirm my own choices. I was raised Catholic but am now a (very) proud Jewish momma. While I feel strong in my faith, I worried this year about my daughter “missing out” on the many traditions surrounding Christmas now that she’s old enough to start to understand things more. But then again, watching her get excited over unwrapping a BOX (nevermind there was a toy inside) during Hanukkah was a reminder that traditions are ultimately what you make of them. I guess it was just nice to hear/read that not everyone is buying into the commercial hype we see this time of year. I also enjoyed reading all the thoughtful responses. Thank you – love your blog!

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Grace December 10, 2013 at 5:32 pm

We are just entering this struggle oursELVES as our son is 3.5 and AWARE of Christmas. I come from a no Santa family that did much like yours, all the lights and baking cookies for neighbors, caroling at nursing homes… and my husband comes from a heavy on Santa family…hook, line and sinker. I don’t like the lying at all, especially if I want to explain the concept of God and Jesus to them. So yeah, we lied to you about Santa who you can’t see but this Jesus, that you can’t see, is TOTALLY real. Huh? Like you said, taking faith out of it, it is still lying. A friend of mine shared “Kindness Elves” with me and I think I will absolutely be going in that direction. They have ideas of kind things to do/give for the day rather than tattling or causing mischief. http://theimaginationtree.com/2013/11/alternative-elf-on-shelf-tradition-kindness-elf.html

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Anni December 10, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I don’t really see how Santa is a lie. Santa is make-believe, which is – or should be – a major part of childhood. Setting cookies out for Santa isn’t much different than setting a place for an imaginary friend at tea-time. If make-believe is the same thing as a lie, that’s a pretty sad, empty childhood.
I also don’t see why it has to be either/or – either a meaningful, non-commercialized, Santa-free Christmas, OR a commercialized Santa Christmas. Just because Santa brings some gifts doesn’t mean kids can’t do lights and cookies and caroling, volunteer, give gifts to kids in need, remember and celebrate the birth of Christ, etc. Heck, Santa doesn’t even have to bring tons of gifts; he can just bring a stocking if you’re really trying to cut down on the gifts. Everyone of course needs to do what is right for their family, and they are of course the judges of that. I just think there is value in a little bit of childhood Christmas magic, and I don’t that that magic is a “lie,” nor does it destroy everything meaningful in Christmas.

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Laura December 10, 2013 at 10:16 pm

I think it’s different because when you’re playing make-believe or using your imagination, usually all parties involved are savvy to what’s real and what’s pretend. Little ones are kept in the dark with the Santa thing, and usually continue to be in the dark after asking many adults for verification and who say that Santa is real, AND lay it on thick when they say “if you stop believing he wont’ come” or something like that. Nobody is telling them that we’re playing make believe or pretending (except for a few probably).

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Roo December 13, 2013 at 8:43 am

“If make-believe is the same thing as a lie, that’s a pretty sad, empty childhood.”

Did you read the whole post? We totally encourage make-believe and imaginary play, and we participate regularly. That’s why instead of forgoing the whole gift under the pillow thing altogether, I pretend to be a tooth fairy.

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Laura December 10, 2013 at 10:14 pm

Solidarity sister. I am with you on all of this, and this is exactly how we are going to handle things. Question about the gifts: how on earth do you get grandparents/relatives/friends on board with not buying ALL THE THINGS for your kiddos? We are keeping things minimal with our kidlet but unfortunately both sides of the family REAAAALLLY like to go overboard with the gift thing and it causes a lot of tension. Ideas?

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Meagan December 12, 2013 at 1:23 am

This post made me feel less strange as a mom! Thanks Roo! When people ask my four year old what she asked for from Santa, they get blank stares and cricket sounds. LOL. I’ve actually never told her much about why other people believe in Santa, but that’s probably because my parents never emphasized it growing up and it does seem strange. As for gifts, I’m trying something new this year (found on Pinterest). They get four: something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. And a few small things in their stockings (toothbrush, toothpaste, hair ties…etc). Thanks for the post! It was encouraging that I’m not the only “weirdo” out there!

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Lynn @ Our Useful Hands December 12, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Hey Roo I like hearing and reading about why others do the things the do and celebrate what they choose to celebrate. I’m a Christian myself yet I choose not to celebrate many of these traditional holidays. There are WAY too many things that are steeped in paganism that to me and my family just aren’t worth dodging around or explaining away lightly. And it’s okay. My husband and I also just like to keep it simple like Jesus did. It’s just an easy life God wants us to have. In the Bible, even after Jesus died and was resurrected you never read of the Christians of his day immediately adopting a yearly celebration of his life. Jesus never asked the focus to be on him in such a manner. I teach our kids to live their lives daily showing that they are Christ’s followers by their manners and being thoughtful and kind and standing up for what’s right. As far as Santa goes, we taught them early on that they can trust us as parents to never lie to them because we never expect them to lie to us and I think that perpetuating the lie of Santa is a hard thing to put into a kids mind. One day they will realize they’ve been lied to and that’ll be hard for a kid I’m sure. I have so many reasons why I don’t follow these traditions but I’ve already written too many words… :o) Thanks for opening up this thought provoking dialogue.

My best, Lynn

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Mary smith December 12, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Loved this post. I totally agree. Yesterday, my husbnds friend informed him that in 3rd grade, he broke the news to his classmates that Santa wasn’t real. The whole class was in tears. My husbands friend was brought to the principals office and expelled. EXPELLED! From 3rd grade, had to find a new school. His parents tried to sue but lost the case. Yikes!!

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Tracy December 12, 2013 at 2:52 pm

I am @spereelan on Instagram & one who asked for this explanation & then apparently missed it until now.
Let me start by saying this post made me cry for a few different reasons. #1-it’s about that time & I’m extremely hormonal right now. Like I was walking through Target yesterday & heard a woman say her son was spending the holidays with his gf & I started bawling! I have 3 boys (18,13,&11). I couldn’t even imagine not having them here for Xmas!
Ok, #2-I’m sad for you & Jack growing up & I’m a little sad for your girls. Don’t ask me why. Your reasons are all completely legit, which brings me to #3… You’re a genius! Why didn’t I think of this instead of just conforming??? It wasn’t such a big deal when the boys were little, but I have created monsters! The 18 & 11 yr olds are pretty easy going & appreciative (for the most part), but my 13 yr old??? God help me! I say this phrase on a daily basis. He is all about comparing himself to his friends. And of course, his friends have EVERYTHING!!! Like iPhones & flat screen TVs in their rooms! Huh??? I didn’t even have an iPhone until 2 yrs ago & I’m 41 yrs old!!! We still don’t have a tv in our room! That’s by choice, but still! The more I give, the more he wants & nothing is ever enough!!! I’ve yelled about it, I’ve sat down with him & had conversations about the less fortunate, I’ve just stopped giving, but nothing gets through to that child! I can’t help but wish I could go back & start over. Give only 1 gift, talk more yell less, never buy junk food. I could go on. I guess the point is that you still have time & you’re doing a great job! I’m running out of time & feel like I could’ve done better. Am I a horrible parent? Of course not. I love those boys with every once of my being, but looking back, maybe I would’ve chose to raise them without Santa.

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Roo December 13, 2013 at 8:45 am

Hahaha you’re the one that asked for an explanation and this post just languished here for four days? I’m hurt! Just kidding.

Not quite sure why you’re a little sad for my girls. No need to be. They are currently enjoying a rich, full childhood with great memories and plenty of fun experiences. :)

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Marsha December 12, 2013 at 8:29 pm

We chose to not do Santa or the Easter Bunny as well. It seems like our reasons were very similar to yours. My kids are 19 and 17 and hold no grudges about it. My daughter was older when she started losing teeth so I thought I would just play the tooth fairy game. I joked around about it and left the money under the pillow. One night i went up to deliver the money and my little girl was laying in her bed with her eyes wide open in fear. She was thought the tooth fairy was real and was terrified. Poor kid. I do not regret our decision and I do not judge people who make different decisions. Thanks for your blog, its great.

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Kaelyn December 14, 2013 at 1:32 pm

My brother has autism, and has always LOVED the idea of Santa. He has even said this year “Santa is my best friend, because he brings nice things to all the children in the world.” It is so incredibly sweet to me to see my (now 20 yr. old) brother write out a letter to Santa that says “Dear Santa, I have been good to you all year long. For Christmas this year I would like ‘Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer’ and for all the people to be happy. Thank you for celebrating with Jesus, Dakota Garrett” I have no idea where the “thank you for celebrating with Jesus” came from, but I think it’s precious nonetheless. I love the magic of Santa for him, because for him its something to look forward to, and a chance to give. He even wants to put money in the kettles at Christmas time “so all the children can get presents from Santa.” But you do you and we’ll do us ;)

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pm December 16, 2013 at 11:27 am

My parents never pushed the belief in the Easter Bunny/Santa Claus/ Tooth Fairy. I don’t feel like I missed out on the fun, if anything, I feel more respected that my parents didn’t dupe us, because I know I would’ve been upset once I found out it was all an elaborate lie. Good for you for keeping the stories alive but not perpetuating a falsehood

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Jessie December 20, 2013 at 2:30 pm

OMG! I’m so happy you posted this! I do not have children of my own yet, but I have already decided that I don’t want to do Santa/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy with my kids. I told some friends this and they looked at me like I was cray cray! You totally got me when you said it just didn’t feel right. I totally agree!

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Oona January 20, 2014 at 1:16 pm

I completely agree with your sentiments. I don’t have any children of my own, but I have four “stepkids”, three “step-grandkids” and two nieces. I feel like everybody gets so wrapped up in the greed of the season that they don’t appreciate the little things. Our 9 year old is a really bright, thoughtful kid, but this year they’re all sitting around the tree and she says “how many presents do I get?” I know she’s just a kid, but it rubbed me the wrong way, like it was the number of presents and not the thought around them. Then she reminds me that I didn’t get her the jeans she wanted (they were out of her size), but she did get three other pairs of jeans! It’s frustrating and I applaud your desire to teach your children what life is really about. If I do have children, I feel like I could print this post out and use it as a primer for how to explain things to my kids. :)

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EJ April 19, 2014 at 10:18 am

I L-O-V-E love this post! We don’t “do” Santa, bunny, or tooth fairy either. Like you, we don’t have any super-strong religious convictions not to, we just..don’t.
We also don’t participate in Elf on the Shelf, leprechaun trapping, or any number of mythological figures with a penchant for breaking and entering.
I guess I’ll chalk it up to not being a very good liar (and kids who were way too savvy from the very beginning, to ever be lied to.)
I’ve been accused of not allowing my children to experience the “magic” of whatever holiday. I’ve been accused of discouraging imagination. But believe me, there is enough magic and wonder to go around, and my kids are highly imaginative, maybe more so because their holidays don’t come pre-packaged in a Santa ™ box. Thanks for this: as you often do, you put eloquent words to the things in my heart that I can’t seem to name. From one unimaginative, non-magical, boring mom to another…good job, momma.

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Cheri @ Overactive Blogger April 20, 2014 at 3:03 pm

So, not-so-fun-fact, my mother was really sick growing up, and abusive. One year, she did not get me any presents for Christmas, and because of this, and a few other things, I’m not sure I can do the Santa thing (and I’m not sure I can do the spanking thing because my parents were SO over the top with it). I totally respect your decisions not to do it!

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