Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas sans Santa

So, Christmas has come and gone. This morning, as I was walking to the gym, it was so beautiful I thought summer had just started again. Very weird, but nice.

We had a nice Christmas here in the Bahamas. Everyone stayed in their pjs all day, we made manicotti and artisan bread for dinner, and built Legos for most of the afternoon. Santa did not make an appearance, and no one seemed to care.

When we were first married, we talked a lot about whether or not to do Santa. I wasn't too big on the idea, and Oliver was neutral, so we ended up nixing the big guy with the red suit. I had witnessed other parents' seemingly crazy efforts to ensure their offspring believed this false tale, and didn't see myself going to all that effort or having fun with it. Plus, I didn't want to give credit to someone fake when we'd put so much love and time to finding gifts that they would enjoy. Overall, we've been happy with the no-Santa Christmas.

*Before you get all worked up about this, we don't avoid Santa altogether. We let the boys watch Christmas shows that star the jolly old elf, and have even put them, quite unwillingly, on a few fake Santas' laps. They know, however, that Santa is just fun stuff, like Mickey Mouse. Presents come from the people that love them. We are very low-key about it, so Wyatt has yet to feel the need to trumpet Santa's fakeness to other children who do believe in him. I'm really not trying to rain on anyone else's parade with this.*

This year, I had some moments of trepidation about this decision to excise Santa from our holiday preparations. Wyatt is getting older and a tad confused by all these people asking him what Santa is going to bring him this year. I did spend some time wondering whether or not he was missing out by not believing in Santa Claus, and debated whether or not I'd fill their stockings (given to them by their grandmother, not us) with candy and call it Santa's visit. In the end, I decided not to, in no small part because Christmas candy is rather impossible to find out here. Also, I just couldn't bring myself to start telling stories I didn't believe in.

I am glad I decided to hold strong, because I noticed something this year: Christmas day wasn't about the presents under the tree at all. The boys went to bed at a normal time after watching the Nativity DVD we got from our church a few years ago. There was no being too excited to sleep because of presents, but much talk about who baby Jesus was and what happened that night so long ago.

When they woke up, the first thing they wanted was breakfast, as is typical. I had made blueberry muffins the night before, which is sort of our traditional Christmas breakfast. Typically, we'd pair it with eggnog and linguisa, but we couldn't find either of those things here. We ended up with some kielbasa, which is so not the same thing, but such is life here. After breakfast, we finally called them to the tree. It was weird, though; I remember as a kid hovering around the tree in anticipation of what was to come. Neither of our kids seemed interested at all until we were actually opening the gifts.

I know some people would probably think we've gutted the fun things about Christmas, but I don't think we have. The gifts under the tree were the sorts of things we could all have fun with, from the new Wii games for Oliver (all of which were the type the boys can play in some fashion, too), to the Legos and RC cars for the boys. We spent the day building things, trying to figure out how to drive an RC car on the wall, and making music on the TV.

In short, I think Christmas without Santa has been a resounding success around here. It's so much easier to avoid all the hoopla and stress without the big red guy hanging around. Christmas in our home has become a day to celebrate Jesus' birth and reconnect as a family. I'm really glad we made this decision and stuck with it.

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Mrs. 2nd Lieutenant said...

we don't "do" santa either - we celebrate st. nicholas day on december 6th with 3 gifts in our shoes, and then exchange gifts with extended family on christmas.

we talk about st. nicholas filling our shoes, but also in a fun, mickey mouse sort of way. of course, st nick is/was a real guy - a saint in heaven, who prays for us, so its not totally the same, but its not a magical red man :)

i think it helps with the focus of Christmas on Jesus instead, and for us, teaching our Catholic faith during the whole season of Advent.

Boyo is only 1.5, but as he ages, we plan to emphasize the "funness" of St. Nicholas doing the stocking, while making it clear they presents are from us.

so i'm glad to know we aren't the only ones :)

our biggest dilemma with presents at christmas taking away focus is the massive amounts to open from grandparents. i wish i could convince them to oepn one a day for the 12 days, but its just not our [familial] tradition. i just noticed tho, that its hard for him, because he totally was overwhelemd - not enjoying the actual presents, because it was too crazy just ripping through all of them! :)

anyways, enough rambling on your blog :-p

merry christmas!

Ana said...

The number of presents is definitely another issue. We have intentionally kept the number down, although we do buy the more expensive gifts (like Wyatt's big Lego building set) that they don't get the rest of the year. Luckily, we don't have relatives that send tons of stuff, so we have a lot of control over that. I think we went a little crazy this year, and we only gave them four gifts each with one to share, haha.

I'm glad to hear someone else out there does a similar thing!

The Firths said...

Sounds good to me. It looks like everything went well without St. Nick. I like the idea.

Tressa said...

I think each family has to do what is right for them. I know many family that choose not to "do" Santa. We did. However, this was our first year where all the kids knew the truth. It was a little sad for me. I always said that when they asked me outright I would tell them the truth, and I did. It didn't stop my youngest from getting up at 6 AM, but we opened our gifts and headed for church. It was a nice morning.

Second of all, I think I am going to have to convince my hubby to get orders there if there is no candy. I have eaten so much candy this Christmas season that I may as well have glued the pieces to my thighs. ugh.

Carrie Stuart said...

What a treat to find your blog! I'm sick in bed with the flu so I've been doing a lot of blog hopping today.

I am so intrigued by your duty station! We were stationed at a NAF last time and thought THAT was remote. You just never know what's out there, I guess.

This is an interesting post. We initially did the whole "Santa" thing...but when our youngest 2 were tiny (too small to even "get it" really) we decided to dispense with it. 3 reasons: (1) I never really felt comfortable with the whole lying thing, (2) I never wanted my kids to question if anything I told them was the truth (ie...the Gospel) and (3) I'm sure it was really hard to reconcile in their minds why the mean kids down the street got everything their hearts desired, while our "Santa" (who was a Marine putting himself through grad school to become a Chaplain) could barely afford a few toys. It was very freeing to come clean.

Our kids are almost all teens now, and we still take pics with Santa when the opportunity arises (unit parties, ward parties) and even talk about him in a fun, make-believe way...but it's very clear we're not trying to pretend he's real.

I look forward to stalking your blog. Come check out what life is like on Okinawa if you like!