Life Stories

Why We Never Let Our Kid Believe In Santa And How To Make The Holidays Magical Without Him

My son is 10 years old, and he has never, ever believed in Santa Claus. The reason? My husband and I made a deal when after our kid was born that we wouldn’t lie to him about… anything. #MillennialParents, ya know?

It might sound ridiculous, but we really did make that decision and we’ve never shied away from it. So far in his life, it’s definitely meant that we’ve had surprising or difficult conversations with him earlier than we anticipated doing so. But it’s also meant that he trusts us implicitly, and he knows without a doubt that we will tell him the truth whenever he wants it (and often even when he doesn’t).

When it comes to Santa specifically, our aversion to indulging in the giant cultural hoax is rooted in a few things:

  1. We didn’t want to lie to our kid.
  2. We aren’t Christian and don’t want to celebrate cultural Christianity any more than we already do by being American, and by celebrating many¬†aspects of the holiday.
  3. We don’t have a lot of extra funds and honestly, want a little credit for the gifts we do give him. On that note, it feels extra gross to imply that the children who really “deserve it” get fancy gifts while poor kids… just don’t.
  4. We really try to eschew consumerism as much as we can and let’s face it: our modern take on Santa is all about consumerism.

And that’s really… it. In my mind, not celebrating Santa was a personal decision that each family makes on their own. But in reality, it has turned out to be one of the most offensive-to-everyone-else decisions we have ever made.

As he’s grown up, it’s been pretty fascinating to see how other families react when they find out Santa isn’t our game. For starters, I have been bowled over by how Santa families will happily place the onus of responsibility for perpetuating a cultural lie on… other children. Once when my son was in preschool (so age 3 or 4), another child told my kid that he must be bad since Santa doesn’t come to his house. Never one to back down when he knows he’s empirically correct (you know apples and trees?), my kid was like “No, your mom is just lying to you.”

As you can imagine, this became a whole… situation. I ended up speaking to the other mom at the end of the day, both of our kids nestled to our sides. When her son turned to her and said, “[My kid] is just bad, right? Because Santa doesn’t visit?” she had the gall to make a non-committal sound and tell her son it was time to go. Nevermind that she was the one perpetuating a cultural lie that would eventually be outed! It was easier for my tiny preschooler to be “bad.”

People have often worried that our son has missed out on holiday magic because he doesn’t do Santa, which is another thing I’ve never fully understood. So to quell those fears, here are a few of my favorite holiday traditions that are truly magical:

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