Courtesy of Liza Wyles

9 Reasons Why I Refuse To Do The Whole Santa Thing With My Kids

By
Share
Ad failed to load

Growing up Jewish, I was always jealous of my Christmas-celebrating friends and their sparkly decor. I didn’t long to be Christian; I just wanted to surround myself with that festive bling. However, I was never enchanted by Santa Claus. To me, he was just another fictional character that joined the ranks of the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, but that’s because I wasn’t raised in a family who celebrated Christmas. Even now, though, with our half-Jewish and half-Christian children, I refuse to do the whole Santa thing. For our family, who does not practice either of our religions, the spirit of the season can’t be found in a merry old soul’s sack of toys for "good" girls and boys.

It’s hard to escape Santa Claus, though. He’s everywhere: on wrapping paper, on food packaging, at Macy’s. He is, after all, “Father Christmas.” But he isn’t someone we really talk about anymore. My children are in fourth and first grade now, and our conversations about the holidays go a little deeper than the never-ending question, "What am I getting for Christmas?” Gifts are just part of this joyous time of year, and since Santa Claus is so specifically associated with presents, we’ve taken the emphasis off him.

So, while my not being Christian is an obvious reason for not talking up jolly St. Nick, there are some other reasons why I refuse to do the whole Santa thing with my kids, even though we celebrate Christmas, including the following:

Ad failed to load

I Don’t Want To Lie To My Kids

Courtesy of Liza Wyles

Since I’m Jewish, I always knew the truth about Santa. As a kid I was told to keep quiet about it, since friends of mine bought into the fantasy. While I was excited to have a little bit of Christmas in our home, after marrying my (not practicing) Catholic spouse, I felt strange about straight-up lying to my children about Santa Claus’s existence. I let my husband do all the talking about it. When the kids were really little, I didn’t debunk the myth, exactly, but I didn’t outrightly lie. I also didn’t discourage my husband and his parents from talking about what Santa might bring the children. There was something so innocently sweet about their belief in this completely selfless man who just wanted to make children around the world (well, Christian children, if you want to get technical) happy.

But there was also something naggingly wrong about lying to my kids, just because they were young and innocent and didn’t know any better. The spirit of the season, I feel, doesn’t have to come in the form of presents from a jolly old soul. So as the kids grew older, and more suspicious of this “Santa” person, I let them arrive at the conclusion that he didn’t exist. “Just keep quiet,” I tell them, passing down the tradition of not blabbing the hard truth to friends who still believe. (I suppose this means I’m teaching my children to lie. Or am I just showing them how to be careful with others’ feelings?)

Not Having A Chimney Was Going To Be An Issue

Before we moved last year, our apartment in Queens didn’t have a fireplace. City kids have it kind of rough when it comes to the whole “down the chimney” aspect of Santa Claus. If lying to my kids about a mythical creature felt wrong, then fabricating an explanation of how Santa can “break in” to our apartment, with its double locks, child safety guards, and metal gate on the fire escape window, felt downright icky.

My Kids Stopped Believing In Santa

Courtesy of Liza Wyles

Up until last year, which was my younger kid’s first year in grade school, we had labeled a few of their gifts as being from “Santa.” I couldn’t resist; there was something magical about them unwrapping a box from someone who wasn’t related to them, and finding something fun inside, as if that stranger, Santa Claus, somehow “knew” the kids would love it. To be understood is all children really want, right?

But that was a few years ago, and while my younger kid probably would have kept on believing in Santa, his older sister put the kibosh on the charade. I couldn’t be angry at her for being truthful, and her little brother pretty much shrugged it off as if, at age five, he somehow sensed this was all too good to be true. As long as the holidays weren’t canceled, as long as we let them eat sugar cereal for Christmas morning breakfast, as long as there were some gifts and family and the Disney parade on TV, it was all good.

Ad failed to load

Waiting In Lines Is The Worst

I’m going to be waiting in lines during the holiday season no matter what, so why throw salt in the wound by waiting in line with children to have them pose with a stranger, which will probably terrify them, triggering a crying fit, and becoming fodder for the most awkward Christmas family photo ever?

My Kids Still View Santa As A Stranger

GIPHY

Some kids take to Santa like an old friend. I get it; with all the Santa-centric paraphernalia (books, movies, commercials), he is a familiar face. But my kids have been receiving lessons in “stranger danger” from their earliest pre-school days, so plunking them down on the lap of a strange man in a beard obscuring most of his face could probably launch them into a panic attack.

I Don’t Love The Idea Of A Stranger Soliciting Secrets From My Kids

Is it just me, or is the practice of having a stranger in costume hoist a small child onto his lap so the kid can whisper his or her most coveted wishes for this stranger to make true, inherently creepy?

Ad failed to load

Santa Might Be A Vehicle For Strep Throat

GIPHY

Do the mall Santas get a thorough wipe-down between lap visitors? Nope. Might there be snot and tears and other bodily fluids left from previous customers when my child climbs aboard? Yup. So I’ll take a hard pass on this Santa thing, thanks.

I Feel My Kids Should Understand What It Means To Receive A Gift From An Actual Human

When my kids still “believed,” they drew pictures and left snacks out for Santa and the reindeer. At around 4-years-old, they grasped the idea of leaving a little “thank you” note in that way, for the jolly entity delivering gifts to them in the middle of the night.

Now that they are six and nine, I want them to know that people in their lives are taking the time to choose and purchase gifts for them, and recognize those actual people. I don’t want to perpetuate the idea that they just have to be good, and some out-of-this-world being brings them presents. I want my kids to be good because it makes their mom happier, their home sweeter, and, ultimately, their lives better.

The World Needs More People Who Are Good For Goodness Sake

GIPHY

I really don’t think I need to raise children whose motivation to be good is a pile of presents that will lose their appeal after a few months of play. Being “good” doesn’t have an endgame. One of the hardest parts of parenting is getting my kids to understand that their lives will be better, more fulfilling, if they are just good people for the mere sake of being good people. Being good spreads joy. Being good shows kindness. Being good is priceless.

So yes, my kids will be opening gifts this Christmas, because the act of giving brings me joy. However, they will also be doing their fair share of donating, choosing, wrapping, and giving. It’s not an easy lesson, especially when the kids’ ages are still in the single digits, but my husband and I are working hard to teach our children that doing good is just as important as being good.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

6 Early Signs You're Going To Have A Short Labor, According To Experts

As far as I'm concerned, a short labor is right up there with winning the lottery in terms of lucky life events. (And when I was actually in labor, I would absolutely have traded a bucketful of lottery winnings for a speedier birth.) While some women…
By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In March

You can always count on Netflix to keep it fresh: though there are already so many movies and shows to choose from, every month there's an influx of new content to keep your entire family entertained. As February enters its final weeks, it's time to …
By Megan Walsh

Here Are 10 Ways To Boost Your Baby's Immunity To The Flu

As I'm sure you've read in the thousands upon thousands of articles written about it this winter, the flu is spreading like wildfire and it's bad. Really bad. This strand of flu is the worst we've had in a very long time and it's the most widespread,…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Khloé Kardashian Asked Twitter About Her Bump, & Moms Totally Delivered

Like her younger sister Kylie Jenner, Khloé Kardashian managed to keep most of her pregnancy a sort-of secret. But unlike Jenner, Kardashian chose to publicly announce her pregnancy several months before the baby's due date. While there's no wrong wa…
By Sophie Hirsh

21 Moms Share The Most Surprising Part About Having A C-Section

Honestly, I don't think we, as a culture, talk about C-sections nearly enough, especially considering so many mothers experience them. And because of a number of factors, the little we do talk about it always seems to be a familiar narrative: "It's n…
By Jamie Kenney

13 Yummy Instant Pot Recipes To Make Under 30 Minutes

An Instant Pot seems to be the must-have appliance in every kitchen these days. If you are anything like me and never knew the beauty of a Instant Pot, you are about to have your life changed. Basically, you put some ingredients into a pot, set the t…
By Kristin Manna

9 Things The First Six Months Of Motherhood Will Teach You About Your Baby

Personally, the first six months of motherhood was a mixed bag. I learned some harsh lessons about myself that made taking care of my baby seem overwhelming. For example, I was clueless, and no amount of research could help me feel like anything but …
By Steph Montgomery

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack