his elves who visit our home each December. It's fun, certainly, but I've always had some reservations about the Santa charade (click away believers and little kids, you don't want to read the spoilers in the rest of this post). I'm not opposed to encouraging the belief in magic and fantasy in my kids, frankly, I'd like to nurture that as much as possible in this grim world. However, Santa Claus to me always seems to symbolize "getting" as opposed to "giving." Generosity is something I've been having a hard time teaching to my eldest, despite trying to set a good example.
S was making out his Christmas list the other week, as kids are apt to do this time of year. After listening and talking to him about it, I asked what he'd like to give to his dad, grandparents, uncles and aunts, and to his brother. It was as if I spoke to the wind; he didn't even hear me at first, and then seemed irritated about it when I prodded the issue a bit.
Despite a basket full of Christmas books on the topic of giving, peace, and goodwill, the model of charity has not been absorbed into our child. I'm striving for things to be different this year, somehow, whether it's giving to those in need or just sitting together as a family and reflecting upon our blessings.
To add another complication to the situation, I found out that S doesn't believe in Santa anymore. In my mind, I had always resolved to tell him the truth when he eventually asked me about it. I thought it might have been when he was 8 or 9, but it turned out to be just a few weeks ago. This is where my conflict lies; I thought I was ok with telling him the truth, but the truth is, I feel guilty puffing out that magic. I try to live an honest, genuine life, so I assumed that by telling him that Santa isn't real would be a way to honor my values, however I'm having regrets.
It's not just Santa Claus that has been on my mind. I've spoken with Chris about how conflicted about Christmas I am. I'm not a Christian. I'm not a Pagan/Witch. I do believe in celebrating peace and goodwill towards all living things, and trying to bring some light and joy into these darkest (literally) of days. I enjoyed this comment on a forum about Non-Christians celebrating Christmas
"Christmas barely had any connection to Christianity except that it was believed, from no sources or facts, that Jesus was born on that day when the exact date of Jesus' birth was unknown. Christmas actually was derived from the PAGAN holidays of Yule and Saturnalia, gift-giving and merrymaking are from Saturnalia; greenery, lights, and charity from the Roman New Year. Saturnalia and Yule were both holidays celebrating the winter solstice. Saint Nicholas was the Christian figure of Santa, however the Santa that we use as a figure is a trademark of Coca-Cola where they had used that version of Santa in advertisements."
I tend to celebrate Christmas more as a way of connecting to my own childhood memories of the season. My mom especially brought so much joy into our home during Christmastime, and I want to do the same for my boys. This year, I will continue to bring light and festivity to our home and family, but am also going to make more space for charity and expressing love and gratitude toward those we care about and to those who are in need.
Some of my ideas:
- Shop for toys for children in need
- Put together a food box as a family to donate to a local food bank
- Make special treats for the birds and animals to hang outdoors
- Create a countdown to Christmas calendar (I hesitate calling it an advent calendar) that focuses on doing something positive for a specific person each day (their names would be in the calendar bags along with a little treat)
- Create handmade gifts for friends and family
- Encourage random acts of kindness all month long, including baking treats to anonymously gift to our neighbors
And for those of you whose children know my son, I beg for your forgiveness in advance if he starts filling your child's head with ideas you aren't ready to face.