I remember the Christmases of my childhood very vividly. The tree that stood next to the fireplace, the greenery that was perfectly placed on the mantle, the nativity that was arranged by my hands - all of it seemed so magical. I would always wake up far too early with eagerness on Christmas morning. I would softly walk down the stairs...stop halfway...and peek to see if the presents had arrived.
And the center of my world - for this one night - was Santa.
My mom went to great lengths to make sure he was as real as he could be. The wrapping paper was always the prettiest from him. It was even wrapped neater. All the presents I asked for, I received.
If I ever questioned his existence, I was always told he was real. I was never asked, "What do you think?" And believe me, he was very real. Even as I grew older, and others didn't believe, it didn't matter to me. I held on to what I thought was true. Probably much longer than I should have to be honest.
The summer before I entered the fourth grade, I finally asked my mom...one more time...if Santa was real. I'm not sure what prompted this conversation, but she finally revealed to me that he was not real.
And even though this may sound over-dramatic, I'm explaining exactly how I remember it. It really was that "traumatic" to me at the time. I felt my heart began to beat faster. It seemed like everything I knew to be true was just not true anymore. I cried and cried. And even the days that followed would find me crying if I thought about it.
It was a big deal to me.
Now, I realize that not every child is this way. My sister, for example, just brushed it off as if she always knew. I remember asking Josh once if he remembered finding out about Santa, and he doesn't even remember how long he believed.
For years, even as a child, I felt guilty for asking for so many "things" because I instantly realized that my parents were the ones who had to buy them for me...instead of the free for all that I thought I was receiving. I was never told to limit my requests, so I didn't. And when I thought about everything I had opened as gifts over my short lifespan, it seemed so overindulgent. I felt like I didn't have the chance to thank my parents for giving me gifts because I didn't know THEY gave them to me.
Christmas seemed so empty to me for many years following my revelation, and that feeling was really difficult. There are times when I still can feel that emptiness, and I know it's because of the memory I have of suddenly realizing what I thought to be true...was not true.
So for those of you who know I don't "do Santa" with my children, I thought you might want to understand the background of it. It's not really anything religious/spiritual (even though I suppose I could discuss that side of it). It's more of my personal story that keeps me from incorporating Santa into our Christmases. I have a hard time seeing Santa everywhere. And even though the kids see him everywhere - on shows or in decorations - they understand he is pretend - like Buzz Lightyear.
Because of my own experience, I decided to tell my kids the truth right from the start. I just had to. And I know I am not the only adult who has experienced the same feelings as a child. You can read about others online, but I met a woman (used to go to church with her) who actually began questioning the deity of Christ as a teen and into her early 20's because of the untruth of Santa. When my parents do not tell the truth about one thing, what about other things?
Sound over-the-top? Like I said, not every child experiences it this way. But what if my child would? I'm not willing to take that chance.
For a lighter take on this subject, read this blog. The comments are interesting, too.
This World Will Never Be Enough Again
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