Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Of Christmas and Santa

"That time of year" is coming up, and Michael and I are very excited about the prospect of having a cute baby girl in the house during this holiday season. It's also been giving us an opportunity to discuss how we want to "do" Christmas at our house: what traditions we want to start, what goals we want to set, etc.

One tradition that I want to start is for my children to give, as in physically hand gifts that they're giving to their siblings. I just feel like it would place more emphasis on Christmas being more about bringing good things to other people than just a random pile of packages under the tree. While reading popular mommy-blog DesignMom the other day, I came across an excellent suggestion for gifts from Santa: one thing to wear, one thing to read, one thing to play with. This has helped her avoid Christmas buying overload.

So I sent the suggestion to Michael, and he really liked everything except for the Santa part. Which makes me wonder: how will we handle Santa in our house? I don't want to write him out completely, because I think the whole will he/won't he come was part of Christmas fun for me when I was little. How Dad made us all sit on the stairs while he went down to "check" and make sure Santa wasn't still there. By the way, you REALLY took your time with that, DAD. Sitting on those stairs was agony. But then seeing that there were new presents under the tree was pretty magical, and I don't want Jane to miss out on that sense of wonder. However, I also don't want to overemphasize Santa. I think Michael doesn't really appreciate that a fictional being is taking credit for things that he certainly didn't do. We also don't want family gifts to get lost in the mix.

One other problem is "breaking it" to the kids (you know... about Santa). When? How? Do they just figure it out? Does it break their hearts? Should I try to make sure that they understand the truth from the start? I think I have more anxiety when I imagine telling a kid about Santa than I do about explaining the birds and the bees.

I think the "one thing to wear, one thing to read, one thing to play with" rule will do perfectly this year for Jane on the whole. Cute little babies don't really need much more than that, and I'm sure the wrapping will be much more exciting than anything inside. I'm even thinking about wrapping a couple of empty boxes for her to go to town with, but some part of my brain tells me that's cruel. Like she'll be sitting in therapy one day going, "And do you want to know how sick my mom was? She wrapped EMPTY boxes for me at Christmas."

What about you? Do you have any "rules" when it comes to buying gifts for your kids? Any good suggestions for the Santa situation?


Taylor Thompson said...

Drew and I can talk non-stop about the Christmas traditions we want to start with Collin. So fun! Babies make everything better.

Oh, and I have every intention of wrapping empty boxes, because I've been told by so many people that those are all he'll want to play with. No therapy ;)

Nikki Jenson said...

'Too much... too soon' is my suggestion. I think you're overanalyzing something that can change at the drop of a hat... For me: I hardly bought my kids anything before they were five! Today: they are so spoiled rotten at EVERY holiday that I've had to throw 'tradition' out the window... But living in someone else's home, culture, and traditions has made it hard for me to stick to mine.

MBC said...

My sister actively told her kids that Santa doesn't really exist, that he's just a nice idea, but they don't believe her! They see so much advertising for him and hear so much about him from other kids that they are almost all believers. They just assume ALL the presents are from Santa even when they're told otherwise.

Breanne said...

MBC - Yikes! I'll have to watch out for that!

Taylor - Ahh, so nice to have someone back me up.

Nikki - Don't take me too seriously. I'm just having fun dreaming about the future and how we'll treat this special time of year as a family, now that kids are literally in the picture! I don't really think any of this will be relevant for Jane this year, and I don't expect anything to be set in stone. But I WOULD like to know about what traditions other families have started!

Hugs from mom said...

I think this is one of those topics that will change as your family grows. I definitely have my issues with "Santa" getting credit for all the thought and effort I've put into giving my kids something special. And I absolutely refuse to do the Easter Bunny. Don't get me started on that. We just do one nice gift from Santa and then a gift from Mom and Dad, one from Grandpa and Lynne, and one from a sibling gift exchange. At this point we don't need any more toys and Christmas can get really expensive. I had to set some limits. I think as you go along you'll keep the traditions that work and throw out the ones that don't. It's your family. You and Michael can do it however feels best for you.

As far as telling your kids about Santa. I think you'll know when the time is right. Just don't let Erika's kids read your blog post. :) Mom told me that believing in Santa helps young children better understand Christ. You'll have to ask her more about that theory but since I thought there was some merit to that I didn't completely throw Santa out the door. I think you're going to really enjoy your first family Christmas. Merry Christmas!

Adam said...

Learning about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and god is a coming-of-age thing that all kids go through at one point or another. She'll figure it out on her own eventually.

I really like the giving the present to show that Christmas is about giving. I might suggest that you take that a little further, and involve your family in giving gifts to poor/disadvantaged families, or volunteering a weekend at a local soup kitchen.