Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Great Santa Debate with the cooler weather and all...I have started thinking about Christmas. So Josh and I were talking today about SANTA. I was raised NOT believing in Santa, but he was. So we were talking about what we are going to do with Claire. Obviously, he thinks we should teach her to believe in Santa, but I don't. I think we are pretty much polar-opposites on this topic. So if you celebrate Christmas, what are you teaching your kids? I remember talking about Santa last year, but it didn't really matter because Claire's new vocab at Christmas consisted of "pretty light" and "big tree." She now however has a huge grasp of language and will probably get it pretty a degree. So maybe we could just play pretend this year and not worry about things till next year? Really to her -- Barney or whatever else she sees on TV probably seem pretty real to her anyways.

My dad was born in Germany, so we celebrated the Christmas season mostly the German way, which includes the entire Advent Season which are the four Sundays prior to Christmas. We would open a smaller gift each advent and light a candle on an Advent wreath. Then my mom would read something from the Bible. Actually she read first then we got to open the presents...I don't really remember paying much attention, but just being excited about presents! I remember one year my sister Holly and I were super-into Charm Bracelets!!! Those things rocked!

Then on Christmas eve we would have a big dinner with family, go to Christmas eve service at church where the last song would usually be "SILENT NIGHT" sung by candle light, then come home and open all the rest of the gifts. It was a fun and late night. My parents were brilliant. This way, we kids were well entertained the next morning with new stuff. Meanwhile, nobody was waking them up early to open gifts. Ha! Then we'd usually go to my Aunt Lee's house for a big Christmas lunch and a gift exchange with them.

Every year we also got chocolate Advent Calendars. It had 24 little doors with one bigger door for Christmas day. Each door contained a piece of chocolate about the size of a Hershey Kiss. Yum. Somedays, I would be naughty and eat more than one piece. Then I would shut the door of the day I stole that piece from. But then I would be sad when I opened that number and the candy was already gone. Ha. Mine was always gone well before Christmas!

My absolute 100% favorite part about teaching German was teaching about was probably the only class where kids got to even talk about Christmas. If anyone out-does Americans on Christmas, it is the Germans. Germany around Advent and Christmas rocks!!! There are a lot of other German Christmas traditions, like the Christmas markets. There is actually one in Chicago that closely rivals the German ones.

The first time I went was a field trip in HS when it was still very small. We went back about 5 years ago...let's see it was my mom, Holly, my friend Anja who was visiting from Germany, cousin Sue, and maybe a few other women...headed up there...and it was HUGE! They had large tents and heated areas...because basically it's like a farmer's market, which means BRR!!!! in Chicago in Nov/Dec! But it was absolutely marvelous...tons of foods, drinks, and crafts to look at. Something big in Germany at Christmas is called "Gluehwein" which is like a hot spiced fruit punch with alcohol. Well that description sounds kind of nasty, but it's actually pretty good.

So back to the Santa thing...did you that "St. Nickolaus" originated in Germany? Well, according to the cultural component that we were teaching to the kids at the time I was teaching, that's the way it goes. Scroll down through this page and onto the next to read more about Santa origins.

So basically as a kid, my siblings and I were taught that Santa was something that was fun to believe in and not to spoil it for other kids who did believe in it. I remember last year that Josh told me he was crushed when he was having doubts about Santa and he asked his mom if Santa was real, and she finally told him "No."

I guess my issue with it is that I feel like it is teaching a lie. And I really don't want to lie to my kid just to have some fun. I really don't see any fun in that. We always made a birthday cake for Jesus and sang him "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" on Christmas eve to remember the whole reason for Christmas was Jesus being born. Personally, I think it's a great excuse to have some cake. :) So what to do? What to do??? How do you compromise and KIND OF teach a belief in Santa? I mean, yeah, you could get into the whole religion debate, but let's deal with Santa first.

We also did put out milk and cookies for Santa...I'm not even sure if my parents grew up believing in Santa...I kind of doubt it since my Dad was born in Germany and my mom was from a pretty strict Lutheran household. Personally, I always thought that kids who believed in Santa were a little bit stupid...that would be like believing in Mickey Mouse and him being real. No offense to anyone. But also, and no offense here, I think it's kind of silly to get Christmas gifts from Josh's mom/step-dad that say "From Santa"--really? MAYBE HE IS REAL!?!


Joshua Starr said...

Santa just died a little bit. It's people like you that stop believing that ruin the magic of Santa.

Santa is crying right now.

Anonymous said...

Santa is in the same realm as fairies, gnomes, and dragons around here. We love to tell stories and wonder if maybe they really do exist. We try not to put it out there as absolute fact, but we've also never said that it isn't real either.

We also celebrate the entire Advent season and celebrate Saint Nicholas' Feast day in December.

Amy said...

OMG, we went through this too.

It was a blog-controversy extraordinaire.

In the end, we decided to have a "don't ask don't tell" Santa policy. BJ and I have neither confirmed nor denied. It's not a big deal in OUR house, but it leaves room for our insane relatives to make a big hairy deal about Santa to the kids.

I'll warn you that if you don't "do" Santa, he will start bringing your kids loud, obnoxious toys by way of their believing relatives. Santa is passive-aggressive.

So, to summarize, my kids get stockings, but we aren't really explicit about where they come from. They know who Santa is from school, books, and relatives. The relatives bring them gifts "from Santa" and BJ and I just roll our eyes. Those gifts are usually things that we would take back if they came "from Grandma" - like drum sets. We don't buy the kids a big gift "from Santa." I grew up with Santa and didn't feel especially lied to. My kids are still too frightened of Santa (the guy at the mall) to actually do the traditional on-the-lap photo.

Hope that helps!

Richard Gross said...

Jesus and Santa are on the same page for me. Although Saint Nicklaus was real.