Our family is growing in many ways... Growing in numbers, knowledge, parenting skills, growing in love, in our faith, growing our culinary skills (if you can call it that), growing without gluten (some of us), growing green...........

Sunday, November 16, 2008

THE Santa Talk

I've never been a huge fan of encouraging Camden to believe in Santa. In fact, it's always been a source of tension for me. Why? Because I want the focus of Christmas to be on the real "reason for the season" - the birth of Jesus. And Santa kind of conflicts with that... In my opinion. So, while I've never really discouraged his belief, I've never really encouraged it, either. Sure, Santa has always brought him a couple things (but not much), and we have on occasion put out milk and cookies, but that's about it. I spend my energy on trying to teach Camden about the spirit of giving (not getting...) and about Jesus. I have been waiting and waiting for him to ask about Santa b/c I have a policy of not lying to him (which is just another reason I don't like this whole pretending that Santa exists thing...). So, he FINALLY asked. We were running errands, so we talked briefly (I did the whole "What do YOU think?" when he asked if I believed Santa was real) and told Camden we would discuss it more at home.

What led to this discussion is him bringing up The Polar Express movie and wondering about the boy who said Santa hadn't visited him before (the poor boy in the movie, not the main character). He wondered if Santa really didn't visit some kids or what that was really all about. So, we sat down with Camden last night, armed with brownies and ice cream (ok, that was more for me...) - and it all came out. (I am SO relieved!) I expected him to know what might be coming since we put off the discussion until we were at home and since we asked him "If Santa weren't real, would you want to know?" (To which he answered yes.) But he didn't put two and two together until we outright told him. We explained where the idea came from, who St. Nicholas was, etc. At first he was a little mad that parents lie to their kids about the whole Santa thing (which I totally get). We explained many of the reasons that parents pretend about Santa, and I think he got it. We looked up more about St. Nicholas, and he was really interested in the truth behind him, which was pretty cool.

But what was he REALLY upset about?? The same thing from earlier the same day... When he first brought up the whole "poor boy thinking Santa forgot him" - he got really upset and was crying. He thought it was awful that some kids would feel that they got overlooked by Santa. And this was still bothering him. He was upset about this all night - about the kids who get so little or nothing at all. Now, he doesn't get much either. Part of it has been b/c of money, yes. Being a single mom in college - you don't have a lot to spend. But I also don't agree with splurging even if you have it - kind of takes away from the real meaning. But back to the story... He hated realizing that some kids really don't get much and that they might think that Santa just didn't stop at their house. He thought it was so sad and felt really badly for those children. He was upset all night and had such a hard time going to sleep.

I reminded him about how he gives to a child each year to help with this. At his school, they have a "Dolphin Tree" (their mascot is a dolphin), and he picks out a child and buys them a gift with his own "charity" money that he has saved up. I explained to him that while it is sad that many children are worse off, instead of focusing on what they don't get and simply feeling sad about it, it is better to do something and try to make it better for some. So then he got upset because we only signed up for one child this year. When I told him we could do more, he was upset b/c he didn't have enough money in his charity money for this. I explained we could help with that. I mean, this is the point I want him to get!! And he's getting it. Regardless of how much or how little we have, I want him to learn to give to others and consider those less fortunate - and not just to consider them but to DO SOMETHING about it.

I love that my child has such a big heart. It nearly broke my heart seeing him so very upset and crying over children he doesn't even know, over a character in a movie. He kept wondering why they would put such a character in the movie b/c it is too sad. And I think this is one reason why. I'm so proud of Camden right now. We had such a great talk, and I'm glad that the biggest thing that came from it has nothing to do with finding out that Santa isn't real but that it has to do with caring about those less fortunate. I had many "proud mama" moments last night.

Oh, and when asked if he thinks we should teach Aiden whether or not there is a Santa, Camden thinks we should not. This is another reason we have wanted Camden to find out - b/c we weren't sure we wanted to keep it up and teach Aiden there was a Santa. It's nice to have the opinion of a child that just found out b/c, honestly, I forget what I felt when I first realized it. Sure, we can still have fun and pretend, but I would rather my children have a little fun with that while focusing on what Christmas is really about. Like Camden said, "so that really is why it's called Christmas - CHRIST!"


Samara said...

My parents told me the "truth" about santa when I was about 9. It was very traumatizing. Mom causally mentioned it in passing and then was like, "oh, did you still believe in that?" There was no talk, no explanation, no nothing.

curlygin78 said...

Wow. That's a big conversation and I'm glad to know you came away unscathed. As a kid, it didn't affect me the way it has Camden. He DOES have such a big heart.

I have a suggestion for you, though... The Christmas Chronicles is a set of books that tell the story of St. Nicholas THROUGH Santa's eyes. My favorite is The Autobiography of Santa Claus - "as told to Jeff Guinn" - because he's the author, etc. There are 25 chapters - one for each day of December before Christmas. The book takes history (Nicholas as a young boy, etc) and mixes it with quite a bit of imagination - explaining just HOW Santa gets around the world. It might be a great read for the family, especially since Camden's in the know now. Enjoy! :-)

Angie said...

We don't have kids (yet) but we've thought about this one. We have a lot of the same misgivings you do. I don't like the idea of putting so much emphasis on gift receiving at Christmas. On the other hand, St. Nicholas is an great figure for kids to look up to. He was known for his generosity and humility particularly to children. (Did you find an explanation for giving gifts in stockings? I posted it below in case you're interested.) We will probably give stockings on St. Nicholas' day (Dec. 6) and keep Christmas gifts to a minimum. I'm not sure if we'll really tell our kids that St. Nicholas left the stockings or just let them know it's traditional to show generosity the same way he did. The problem is that our families (aka future grandparents) are really into the whole Santa thing so there might be a mutiny if we try an all-out ban on Santa giving gifts.

On the other hand, I think it's well-worth keeping St. Nicholas. Particularly if you put the focus on *giving*. St. Nicholas is the patron saint of our church here in Illinois so every year we have a big feast and collect donations to go the local children's home, the local pregnancy help center, and an orphanage in Guatemala. I'll probably do something similar with our kids.

On the origins of gift giving and stockings (http://www.oca.org/FSlives.asp):

"There was a certain formerly rich inhabitant of Patara, whom St Nicholas saved from great sin. The man had three grown daughters, and in desparation he planned to sell their bodies so they would have money for food. The saint, learning of the man's poverty and of his wicked intention, secretly visited him one night and threw a sack of gold through the window. [Tradition says that the bag landed in the stockings that his daughters had left to dry by the fire overnight.] With the money the man arranged an honorable marriage for his daughter. St Nicholas also provided gold for the other daughters, thereby saving the family from falling into spiritual destruction. In bestowing charity, St Nicholas always strove to do this secretly and to conceal his good deeds."

Kathy Caveman said...

awww, you made me tear up! Daisy, you are such a great mom, you have such a great kid!!!
I don't think I truly ever believed in Santa- Mom and Dad decided to be honest with me, because when Shannon was really little, they had to tell her the truth, because she was really upset about the idea of a stranger sneaking into the house! :)

Ravin said...

He is such a sweetie! It so wonderful that he wants to help others so very much.

I remember wondering when I had to stop pretending because of my little brother and then suddenly there wasn't a Santa anymore and my brother thought I was the idiot for mentioning it...so make sure Camden knows when he no longer has to pretend to believe for Aiden's sake.