Lying to your kids.
A very vocal minority (or I choose to believe they are in the minority) are accusing those of us who tell our kids about Santa of lying to our children. Perpetuating a falsehood... building up their hopes... not teaching our kids to give credit for gifts where credit is due... frightening them with tales of home invasion by some old, obese guy from the mall.
I was a die-hard Santa lover... and truth be told, I still am as can be seen on my Christmas tree with my collection of Santa ornaments. We love the Polar Express in our house. I appreciate the fact that it emphasizes belief and faith in the possibility of all things and even though Santa may not be a real, living person, Santa represents the spirit of giving and generosity. The subtleties of this are of course missed on a three year old, but will be appreciated by a nine year old, I have a feeling. The Grinch is one of my favorites as well that also teaches a valuable lesson that is often missed in contemporary television (was it Mickey Mouse Clubhouse where they had to rescue Santa to save Christmas? That annoyed me.) The Grinch reminds us that take away the boxes and bows, the trees and the stockings, the trimmings the trappings (what are trappings anyway?), and Christmas will come just the same. (And according to Leif, then we can carve the Horse Beast.)
I loved anticipating Santa as a kid. Even up until I was in my teens and we maintained the story for my youngest stepbrother I would still secretly wait to hear reindeer on the roof as I layed in bed. I want Leif and Skadi to experience that magic and wonder for as long as possible.
As a young child I saw the mixed signals but I either chose to ignore them or wrote them off. The Santa at my mom's employment, the local YMCA, actually being a friend of theirs I recognized. I remember telling my mom it was Jim, but in my mind, I knew he was just a representation of Santa, and I still waited for the real Santa. I even knew kids in school as early as kindergarten who didn't celbrate Christmas for religious reasons, yet their nonbelief of Santa, didn't cloud mine.
I was a late bloomer with regards to "the truth". My friend Jennifer told me to maintain the facade (she didn't use that word) for her little brother that year I would turn nine two weeks later. I nodded my head, forced back the tears and later cried that she confirmed that Santa was not real. But still I held out hope that just maybe...
Leif has friends who for various reasons don't celebrate Christmas. One of his friends is German and they celebrate the Ukranian holiday with St. Nicholas on Dec. 6th, a very similar concept to Santa really. And a tradition that his Montessori school also celebrated this year. My kids will undoubtably - and hopefully encounter lots of children of different faiths and beliefs in the next few years. It is my hope that Leif and Skadi will hold within them the spirit of Christmas and treasure Santa for as long as possible.
In our house Santa will bring one gift and fill stockings. The rest of the gifts are from mom and dad, grandma, grandpa, etc. I don't feel the need that some parents out there on the internet have cited, the need to have the real giver of gifts (namely them) be acknowledged. We will give one Santa gift (Leif gets Buzz and Skadi gets Raggedy Ann) and the stocking stuffers from Santa. My kids are gracious and it is more rewarding to me to see the joy in Leif's eyes over what SANTA brought then to be acknowledged for those gifts. And furthermore I question the parents who feel the need for their children to acknowledge THEM for their every gift as opposed to playing up the magic and wonder that is childhood.
Is it lying? I don't think so.