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How far do you go in maintaining the Santa myth?

This is the time of year when parenting writers can't help but ask the question: Should you lie to your kids about Santa? But that's not all that interesting to me. Of course you should lie to your kids about Santa. And when they're old enough to start asking reasonable questions, you 'fess up. The world doesn't end. Heck, I remember when my parents finally told me the truth, and swore me to secrecy lest I screw it up for my younger siblings. It was a rite of passage.

But, as a parent, I am now entering into a more intriguing phase. My oldest, now a firmly entrenched elementary schooler, ought to know that Santa isn't real, but she is doing her damnedest to remain ignorant. This is at once charming and irritating. When you have a toddler, you don't have to work too hard to keep the ruse alive. It doesn't matter if the wrapping paper comes from that roll down in the basement or that you bought the toy while they sat in the cart at Toys "R" Us. If the presents appear under the tree on Christmas morning, they are more than impressed.

But older children can start to piece things together. This year, we're running the risk that she'll recognize the neat science kit from the museum we just visited or wonder why Santa's presents are all sealed with ultra-thick packing tape, just like our family gifts, rather than regular Scotch tape like ordinary people. She's also a threat to (quietly) start turning the house upside down looking for "Santa's" hidden stash. We're making a good faith effort to maintain the illusion, but we're also reaching the point where the arms race is getting silly. There is enough going on during the holiday season that I'd just as soon not have to think about whether my fake note from Santa (thanking the kids for the milk and cookies on Christmas night) needs to have the same fake handwriting as the one from last year.

At what point did you all stop making extraordinary efforts in service of the Santa myth?


By Brian Reid |  December 15, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers , Preschoolers
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Comments


Honestly toddlers do not understand the concept of Santa Claus or even concentrate who gives them what. So it is irrelevant what you tell a toddler.

It takes kids till around 3 or even 4 to really get the concept of Santa Claus. So I would not even worry about what to tell them before that.

I did not really spend a lot of time believing in SC as a child. My older brother told me in preschool that Santa Claus was just pretend. I still have very fond and magical memories of Christmas. So SC is really not essential to childhood and certainly has nothing to do with the real meaning of Christmas.

That being said, my husband's family is all about SC. In fact in his family SC brings all the presents except for the ones given by extended family.

When we had our own kids, I did not want SC to take front and center stage. So we split the difference. We actually never even mentioned SC to our daughter. But by age 4, she had picked up the idea from books and animated shows. So now at age 5, she firmly believes in SC.

I still never talk about the details with her. Like does SC make the toys or just bring them, how does he deliver all the toys in one night, naughty or nice lists etc... I just let her decide from the information provided by popular culture what she thinks is true. By the time she gets all in place, she will probably stop believing in him anyway.

We do stress St. Nicholas at our house. So on December 6th, we give very small gifts of candy or toys in honor of the true St. Nicholas. But we talk about how he was a real living person, who lived and died and now is in heaven with God. We talk about his charitable acts and his kindness to all children. And we use him as an example of how we should live our lives.

I think if your daughter is old enough to put the pieces together, why would you try to prolong the charade? I don't think there is anything wrong with the "lie." In actuality we teach children it is OK to lie in certain circumstances. It is not a good idea to say, "gee that baby is ugly, or yes that dress makes you look fat, no honey your not losing your hair ect..." No one wants to admit it but we don't want kids to be truthful all the time.

So to me it is not about lying as much as why would you want to keep up as silly thing. SC can be a wonderful part of early childhood imagination. In the realm of fairies and magical castles. But once they are old enough to ask " can you have sex with your boy friend in the bath tub", it is probably OK to let them discover on their own that SC is just a lovely part of childhood.

On the more religous side, it is nice to see that once they get passed the SC materialism, you can actually teach them the true meaning of Christmas. I think that is what they will hold near and dear as they get older.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 15, 2009 7:35 AM | Report abuse

I'll let you know when I stop. :-)

Santa's presents are wrapped in paper that has never been found in my house, and never will be, other than wrapped around presents from Santa.

And if any of my co-workers wonder:
- what that wrapping paper is doing stuffed behind my filing cabinet
- why I'm extra-careful to LOCK my filing cabinet when I'm not around
- why I get a bunch of FedEx deliveries to the office this time of year
- why I sometimes come back from lunch with packages that go right into the filing cabinet

I just tell 'em to MYOB lest they wind up on the "naughty" list and find a lump of coal where their new flat panel monitors used to be.

Besides, Santa brings the "cool" presents like iPods and digital cameras and printers and... Mom and Dad just buy practical presents like clothes and books. So if you don't believe in Santa, well, clothes and books are about the best you can hope for this Christmas. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | December 15, 2009 7:38 AM | Report abuse

I'm with AB. The mantra in our home is "He who doesn't believe, doesn't receive." Long live Santa Claus!

Posted by: pamsdds | December 15, 2009 7:57 AM | Report abuse

I have a feeling that someday Brian will look back on these days and miss his kid believing in Santa. Yes, it's a little extra work but I have older coworkers who have told me that in retrospect the time their kids believed went too fast and was magical for the parents too.

On an unrelated note, I have my 20 week sonogram today and have to decide whether or not to find out the gender of the baby! I am pretty sure that I want to know but my husband doesn't so as a compromise he has suggested that we ask the technician to write the gender down and we wait until Christmas to find out. Decisions, decisions!

Posted by: sunflower571 | December 15, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

This year, thanks to the influence of his summer camp mates, I had to explain the birds and the bees and confirm the truth about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy to my 10 year old son-- not that he didn't already have some inkling of the truth behind all of them. He was actually relieved to get the full explanation, and of course I know he'd had his suspicions about each of these things for the last few years. I think kids do want to hold onto the magic for as long as they can, even when logic tells them otherwise. Now it's sweet to see the effort that my son wants to make to keep his 7 year old sister convinced that Santa still exists.

You know, for most media saavy kids, evidence of the truth about Santa is everywhere, especially on TV.

I agree with foamgnome that it is never to early to teach children about the true meaning and spirit of the season- if there is any myth I'd like to expose, it is the relentless consumerism and wretched excess that comes with the holiday season.

Posted by: HuckleberryFriend | December 15, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

I'm like Army Brat, we go all the way, separate paper, when we travel for x-mas, I have Moxiedad take the kids to fill the car up and I race to get all the presents under the tree so when we return they see all the presents that Santa didn't bring to grandma and grandpas since we have to fly them all back. I've taken pictures of the gifts under our tree and emailed the picture to the kids on Christmas day (from Santa's hotmail account) so they can see what's there. AND we do NORADs Santa tracker every year! Once its over, its over, they'll never believe again. There's so little magic left in the world. I'm with pamsdds - Vive Santa!

Sunflower, my two cents on your situation: when your husband carries and delivers the baby, then he can decide to know or not to know. Sometimes its nice to know who is in there! Good luck either way.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 15, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Good luck with your sonogram, Sunflower! I hope you'll let us know about the good news (after you tell your husband, of course!) Be aware that some little boys make it pretty obvious, even during a sonogram- my son did!

Posted by: HuckleberryFriend | December 15, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

My step-son is starting to ask questions about Santa Claus this year. He is 7 so I suppose he is getting to the point where the magic is almost gone.

I sort of veered away from Santa Claus being a real person when I answered the questions. I told him that if he believed in Santa Claus in his heart then Santa Claus and the spirit of Christmas was alive. He said he believed and that was that.

It parallels the discussions we have had about whether or not Santa Claus will give him any gifts. When he is very naughty - which he was this weekend - he is worried about being passed over my Santa. I always tell him that Santa looks into your heart. That people do bad things and it doesn't make them bad people. If in their heart, they are trying then that is what is important. I presume that my stepson is not trying to be a completely ignorant, disrespectful self-absorbed person - it just sometimes comes out that way - so Santa will be arriving with gifts.

Posted by: Billie_R | December 15, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

We're still in the santa camp here, since older DD is 4. But it's already requiring more stealth -- I started using separate gift wrap this year, and am sneaking presents into the house. She has seen some of the stuff Santa brought her last year at the store, but right now, she just believes Santa shops at Target.

I think we'll keep up santa until she's at least 7 or 8. after that, we'll see.

Posted by: newsahm | December 15, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

The Santa myth remains alive in my house. I keep hoping for that new Ferrari. I am sure that one day, Santa will bring it.

+++++++++++++++++

When our 4 were younger (youngest is now 18), we would put some presents under the tree starting with the arrival of the tree (the gifts from the relatives) and the balance (the gifts from Santa) under the tree on Christmas Eve after they were allegedly in bed. That tradition still goes on. The new LCD TV will not be brought out until the wee hours of Christmas day. Frieda doesn't even know about it. So don't tell!

+++++++++++++++

One day in December, I was sitting on the front porch swing and the daughter formerly known as AF dau came out and sat down next to me. She was about 7. She said, "Daddy, your Santa? Aren't you?"

I started to deny but she said she found the secret stash of gifts. (darn it)

It was then I 'fessed up. But I swore her to secrecy to not tell her baby brother.

Posted by: Fred | December 15, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Sunflower, my two cents on your situation: when your husband carries and delivers the baby, then he can decide to know or not to know. Sometimes its nice to know who is in there! Good luck either way.

Posted by: moxiemom1

Haha, these are my thoughts somedays after some of the morning sickness I have had! Thanks for the goodluck.

Good luck with your sonogram, Sunflower! I hope you'll let us know about the good news (after you tell your husband, of course!) Be aware that some little boys make it pretty obvious, even during a sonogram- my son did!

Posted by: HuckleberryFriend

My DH is coming with me. Will let you guys know later today if we find out:)

Posted by: sunflower571 | December 15, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

The new LCD TV will not be brought out until the wee hours of Christmas day. Frieda doesn't even know about it. So don't tell!

Posted by: Fred | December 15, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Tee hee. Is the new LCD TV REALLY a gift for Frieda?

Posted by: jezebel3 | December 15, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Santa is not a myth, he is real! He was a bishop of the early Christian church who spent his wealth on rescuing kids from child prostitution. Not that you want to explain the real truth behind the original Santa to your young ones, but the tradition of giving both gifts to others on Christmas is the spirit that continues to live on for believers of the Christian faith till this very day. The real Santa is far from a lie, and why people try to cast him as such is a mystery to me.

OK, the legend of Santa flying around in a sleigh with reindeer delivering toys to all the good kids is a very imaginative way of expressing the works of St Nicholas, but children will eventually understand the legend as a creative, fun and most interesting way of describing something they aren't capable of comprehending. And no, they won't accuse the parent that plays into the legend of Santa of lying any more than they will call you a liar for reading them The Cat in the Hat.

And playing into the legend is fun for some of us parents. One year, my daughter and I fell asleep under the Christmas tree trying to catch Santa, but lo and behold, we both awoke with the presents all around us. Santa, that sneaky fellow, and he even stopped for the cookies and milk. His reindeer ate the celery and carrots.

But the best part of playing into the Santa legend as a parent of a believing child is the instant cooperation I get with the Santa threat. One example of many:

Me: Hey pipsqueak, go to the fridge and fetch your good ol' dad a beer.
Son: NO way. Get up and get it your own self. Lazy.
Me: Santa just heard you say that you know. He's probably working on his list as I speak.
Son: Ok, Ok. Here you go and this time i didn't shake it up. I promise!

PS. This strategy works on spouses too. LOL!

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | December 15, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Actually, the TV is a gift for our younger son but it will go in a room that Frieda frequents. Not a gift for me as it is only a 32".

All 6 of us are fine and healthy. All of our kids are employed or in school. They will all be home for Christmas. Life is good!

Merry Christmas to all!

(Even Purdon't grads!)


Posted by: Fred | December 15, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

As a sideline, how many of you do the Elf on the Shelf thing? My older son, 4, is now worried that Santa won't get accurate reports of his good behavior because we don't have the elf, and has gone so far as to try to talk to his friend's elf when he's there. From our last visit, "Hi. My name is 'Johnny Smith.' I live down the street. Please tell Santa I've been really good since we don't have an elf. Can you tell Santa to send us one?" So do I go get an elf today? I kind of prefer the old school Santa Who Sees All....

Posted by: sjneal | December 15, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

We always used different paper (with pictures of Santa on it - the same stuff every year from the Container store) and I printed labels with their names instead of handwriting. Like AB, parents always buy the boring stuff and the kids got those presents on Chrismas Eve. Santa brings the good stuff on Chrismas morning.

My kids were militant believers - they persisted in believing until around age 10. I think the Easter bunny actually tipped them off, first. I guess a guy in a sleigh delivering presents is easier to believe in than a giant rabbit hopping from house to house. We also have leprechauns that either put goodies in your shoes or steal them on St. Patricks day.

Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | December 15, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

This is not a comment regarding whether or not to teach your children about Santa. I know that families have their reasons for handling it either way. I did, however, want to add my comment in light of the posters who believe that once their children stop believing in Santa that the magic of childhood is gone.

It is entirely possible to have a wonderful, magical childhood without ever having believed in Santa Claus or any other mystical creature as well. Non-Christian children here and all over the world typically are not taught about Santa Claus (if you don't celebrate Christmas there's no need for Santa). I was raised Jewish and had a wonderful childhood without believing in Santa and we even celebrated Christmas every year with my Catholic grandparents. My Hindu sister-in-law is a wonderful woman and she never believed in Santa either.

Posted by: NHmom | December 15, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

I still believe in Santa as an adult as the "magic" of the season. When I was growing up, we had two Santas since we celebrated two Christmases - my mom is Polish Roman Catholic and my dad Russian Orthodox - so Christmas comes on Dec 25th and January 7th even to this day. Yes, my mother did eventually tell me about the presents, but there is still something special to me (besides the religious implication of both Christmas eve's) of the family gathering, the presents shared, and that one present you didn't ask for or expect. That's the magic of Christmas and that's where Santa will Always be for me!! And that's how we plan to raise our son in it.

Posted by: annwhite1 | December 15, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

It is entirely possible to have a wonderful, magical childhood without ever having believed in Santa Claus or any other mystical creature as well. ...... My Hindu sister-in-law is a wonderful woman and she never believed in Santa either.

Posted by: NHmom | December 15, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse
------------------------------------

Wait a second - Hinduism is rife with mystical beings. Maybe they don't bring presents, but they are present in the tradition......


Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | December 15, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Thanks GroovisMaximus61. I was trying to make 2 separate points that seem to have merged into one.

First - "It is entirely possible to have a wonderful, magical childhood without ever having believed in Santa Claus or any other mystical creature as well".

Second - Since this blog was specifically about Santa Claus today, I was just trying to add that both myself (raised Jewish but now more UU) and my sister-in-law who is Hindu grew up without Santa Claus and had great childhoods.

Posted by: NHmom | December 15, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

As a sideline, how many of you do the Elf on the Shelf thing? My older son, 4, is now worried that Santa won't get accurate reports of his good behavior because we don't have the elf, and has gone so far as to try to talk to his friend's elf when he's there. From our last visit, "Hi. My name is 'Johnny Smith.' I live down the street. Please tell Santa I've been really good since we don't have an elf. Can you tell Santa to send us one?" So do I go get an elf today? I kind of prefer the old school Santa Who Sees All....

Posted by: sjneal

That is cute that a 4 year old is covering all his bases! I think I will probably get the Elf on the SHelf thing eventually. I was in a spa a few weeks ago (separate issue-this year instead of exchanging gifts with some of the adults in my family we decided to do something together-was fun and less shopping for gifts!)and some mothers were discussing how well it makes their kids behave and how it adds another nice tradition to the holidays.

Posted by: sunflower571 | December 15, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

WE actually decided to forgo the whole Santa thing and told our son that the 3 Wise Men bring him presents. On Christmas Eve we put a star in the window and tell him the story of The Baby Jesus. His friends at school talk about Santa, but he just tells them that Santa doesn't come to our house the Wise Men do. It has worked for 4 years so far.

Happy Holidays Folks!!

Posted by: yisthisnews | December 15, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

NHMom - I grew up in an area of Cleveland that was about 1/2 Jewish and 1/2 Christian. Every December my friends and I had the debate about the merits of celebrating Hannukah versus Christmas. The worst thing for my Jewish friends was that everything was closed on Christmas day (movies, malls, etc) except for the ski slopes! So then I was jealous that a bunch of my friends were out on the slopes together while I was at home.

Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | December 15, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

We got Santa presents all through high school and college. I have no recollection when I realized, but that was irrelevant. Now mine are 8 and 11. I am pretty sure they already know. The 8 yo asks me all the time if I am Santa and I don't answer, but it is clear she knows. I do have the Santa presents hidden in a closet, but they are with all the other presents. Santa only brings presents for the whole family (game, DVD for all, craft supplies), and I don't wrap them. I wouldn't say I do anything to prolong the mystery, but neither do I try to end the magic.

Posted by: janedoe5 | December 15, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

We started out with the Santa story but also the Christian and solstice stories. We never made too big of a deal about Santa and our boys haven't become obsessed the way some kids do. When the 6 year old started to ask about Santa we told him 'our' truth; that Santa is about giving and the idea of Santa is important. He still seems to go back and forth about believing and not believing.

The New York Sun covered this well a few years back:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yes,_Virginia,_there_is_a_Santa_Claus
Replace "Santa" with "Jesus" and works better than anything I could come up with.

Posted by: KS100H | December 15, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

We do the elf on the shelf and it is such fun. The kids are excited each day to see where the elf will reappear. I don't know whether it makes any difference in the behavior, but they wait for him every year and if he's down low (you can't touch him - the rules are in the book) they will get very close and look into his eyes, trying to figure it out! If he shows up in your room one morning, well THAT is a big deal!

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 15, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

KS100H,

I compared Santa Claus to God when SS was asking. He believes in God so it was an easy comparison. You can't see or touch either 'person' but you can still believe in their existence.

I do want to get across the principles of Santa Claus because I think the idea of giving is important even if the gifts are not from Santa Claus but his parents.

Posted by: Billie_R | December 15, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

"It is entirely possible to have a wonderful, magical childhood without ever having believed in Santa Claus..."

True, but believing in Santa makes a wunderful, magical childhood even MORE wunderful and magical.

OT - I just received a early Christmas present from my daughter. She called me right after she took her final exam in philosophy. She was so excited she was out of breath. In between gasts she made out that she "kicked ass", "blew doors", "ripped it apart"... I guess all those "arguments" I had with her about God, predestiny, and the plight of human kind and other wacked-out stuff made an impression on her, maybe. It's her 1st semester of college where she barely made it in.

And now to hear her experience the love of learning and the desire to know more and more about the world she lives in... Wow! Talk about a gift that can't be bought, can't be wrapped, doesn't require batteries, and last a lifetime. Priceless!

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | December 15, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Do any of you have a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas? Someone told me recently their family does this and I thought it was a really nice idea.

Posted by: sunflower571 | December 15, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

WhackyWeasel

That is great Whacky! Best of luck to your daughter!

Posted by: sunflower571 | December 15, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Sunflower: we don't do a birthday cake for Jesus but our baby sitter does. In fact her kids go to a Baptist school and they sing happy birthday to Jesus at their Christmas party.

I actually never heard of the elf on the shelf. What exactly is the elf suppose to do?

Posted by: foamgnome | December 15, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Anyone jump in and correct me if I am wrong because I don't have the Elf yet but from what I understand it's a children's book that comes with a little stuffed Elf. You put the Elf out on Thanksgiving and your child can't touch the elf. Every night when your child sleeps you move the Elf so it looks like the Elf is in a different place on his way back from the North Pole, where he reports to Santa whether your kids were good or bad. The story explains all this and goes along with it. The Elfs come with different hair/eye/skin? colors.

Posted by: sunflower571 | December 15, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

" a gift that can't be bought, can't be wrapped, doesn't require batteries, and last a lifetime."

This is good, because generally philosophy majors can't afford anything anyway...

Posted by: 06902 | December 15, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

"At what point did you all stop making extraordinary efforts in service of the Santa myth?"

Well, we haven't had to deal with this yet, but I would think that a good time to stop would be when it stops being fun for you. If the point of telling your kids about Santa is to make the holiday a little more magical and whimsical, then that's what it should do for everyone.

As for the Elf on the Shelf, I've heard about it and it kind of creeps me out, though the way Moxie describes it it sounds more fun and just part of the whole magical stuff. But, like Billie, we've basically tried to emphasize more that it's about what's in your heart and being loving and giving rather than trying to emphasize being especially well behaved for a month.

Posted by: LizaBean | December 15, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Oldest DD will spend this Christmas in Germany with our former au pair and her family. Santa will deliver oldest DD's gifts there, wrapped in the same paper used to wrap her siblings' gifts. The au pair's family celebrated Nikolaustag on December 6; they'll have the Weihnachten celebration as well.

PFC Nephew/Godson in Iraq's gifts from us will be practical stuff. But we have it on good authority that Santa will have a big care package for him, too.

Fred, I'd think Purdue would be popular around New Orleans right about now, thanks to a certain quarterback. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | December 15, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I believe in Santa Claus in the same ways and for the same reasons that others have expressed.
At our house, Santa does not wrap presents - so no wrapping paper worries. Santa presents are all out of the ridiculous packages, set up and ready for use when we get up. Oddly, my presents from Santa are always wrapped...

Whenever my son asks about it, I will explain it in the manner of "Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus."

Someone above said that they have a tradition regarding St. Nick on 12/6. I think I might do some research and start a similar tradition for our family - that sounds nice. I might also do something for solstice - any suggestions?

I find the Elf to be extremely creepy. One of my inlaws sent us one and we promptly donated it to charity. I do not like toys that are "alive." I even turn the tv channel if that Snuggle bear commercial comes on...creepy. Perhaps one too many Chuckie movies?

Whackey, congrats on your daughter's success - you must be very proud and rightly so!

Sunflower - good luck! I wanted to know because I desperately wanted a boy - I was so happy when the tech told me it was a boy that I couldn't stop sobbing...I was, um, a rather emotional pregnant woman. :) But, if you want to prolong the mystery, I think that is very cool too. If you do decide to know, let us know too!

Posted by: VaLGaL | December 15, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

sunflower,

What reason do you have for funding out? What difference would it make? Usually people find out only so they begin genderizing their children even earlier. People get forced into ridiclous sex roles and stereotypes soon enough.

Posted by: EAR0614 | December 15, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Fred and Whacky, sounds like you both have received your presents early this year. You must have been very good!

Birthday cake for Jesus - what do you get for the man who has literally everything - cue rimshot!

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 15, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Ack! Not the genderizer!

OK, just kidding. When I was pregnant I didn't especially want to find out - in part because I didn't want everyone to give us everything in blue or pink, I admit it - but my husband really, really did want to know. It seemed really important to him so we found out. It actually was really nice; I could tell it made a huge difference for him in terms of being able to start bonding and getting excited - I guess since he couldn't feel the baby the same way I could, it helped him get his head around the idea of this being a real child of his. I ended up being happy about it too - we decided on the name pretty soon after we knew the sex and then we had this little person to start dreaming about and talking about. It was fun.

I think your husband's idea is kind of cute, and really, I think whatever you decide will be fun for you.

Posted by: LizaBean | December 15, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Yes Virginia, there is a santa claus.....

Santa is a belief in the wonder of christmas, the beauty of giving and the specialness of childhood. All the grinches need to get lost.

Posted by: pwaa | December 15, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Thanks VaLGaL, and 06902 you do realize that you've been cracking me up lately, don't you?

Another tradition the the Whacky's been doing for the past few years is called "hide the pickle". My wife hides a tiny pickle ornament deep in the branches of the tree on Christmas eve. The first kid to find it on Christmas morning gets to open the first present and be the gift hander-outer. Gives the early bird kids something to do, and us parents get a few more minutes of sleep before they drag us out of bed.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | December 15, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

(OT)

AB,

The man is a SAINT now, not a boilermaker anymore!

As a side note, I recently found out that Purdon't boilermakers are not boilermakers, as in the drink. I was severely disappointed!

Also, I just recently came into possession of my grandfather's 1912 Gala Week booklet. Leather bound and on parchment! Wow!!!!!

Posted by: Fred | December 15, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Sunflower, I vote you find out and tell us. Please!

Remember, the absolute, honest to goodness, biggest surprises about the sex of the baby comes to those that have been told wrong at the sonagram. Those things aren't always accurate, and sometimes a good shot in the area where the tech needs to look at isn't always possible. You won't know for sure until the baby pops out.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | December 15, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

"As a side note, I recently found out that Purdon't boilermakers are not boilermakers, as in the drink. I was severely disappointed!"

Yep, the name comes from cheating at football! Whee!

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | December 15, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

"and sometimes a good shot in the area where the tech needs to look at isn't always possible. You won't know for sure until the baby pops out."

Hee hee, our son was about 10 days past due and so they were doing another sonogram to make sure there was enough fluid, and the tech made a funny noise and asked if we knew the sex, and we said we did, and she started to laugh and pointed at the screen and there was the most perfect shot of all the parts - no mistaking that one! She printed it for us and we have it in the photo album. Poor kid.

Posted by: LizaBean | December 15, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Yep, the name comes from cheating at football! Whee!
++++++++++++++++++

yea, using non-coded vessels that blow up when the other team is on offense!

(nevermind, it was a mechnincal engineering reference)

Posted by: Fred | December 15, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

We do the pickle in our family - but whoever finds it gets a $25 gift certificate to Barnes and Noble. My husband jumps out of bed on Christmas to see if he can find the pickle. Too bad he usually loses to the kids.

Unfortunately, because I hide the pickle, I never get the gift certificate.

Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | December 15, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, because I hide the pickle, I never get the gift certificate.

Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | December 15, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse


Is that anything like hide the salami?

Posted by: jezebel3 | December 15, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Ha, Liza. The boy was just showing off, and I can just see dad proudly saying, "Yep, he's my boy alright!"

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | December 15, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

We put the wrapped gifts under the tree as we buy them and wrap them. The kids love imagining what might be inside. Santa is a wonderful imaginary creature no more important to the season than the Grinch or George Bailey. If other families love, love, love Santa, that's up to them, but Christmas is always magical in our house -- some of that magic is about presents, most of it is about celebrating the birth of Christ, alot of it is just about the extra time we get to spend together and with friends and relatives over the holidays. None of the magic is at risk as our kids get older, and none of it requires us to get gifts at work, keep wrapping paper there or turn Christmas Eve into a task-oriented evening. Not quite sure why on this issue some people feel their way is the mostest magicalist, but to each his own.

Posted by: bgraphite | December 15, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

fr yisthisnews:

>WE actually decided to forgo the whole Santa thing and told our son that the 3 Wise Men bring him presents. On Christmas Eve we put a star in the window and tell him the story of The Baby Jesus. His friends at school talk about Santa, but he just tells them that Santa doesn't come to our house the Wise Men do. It has worked for 4 years so far...

Many years ago I had a coworker who worked VERY hard to make sure his kids couldn't believe in Santa at all. Not "wouldn't", but COULDN'T. He gave them some ridiculous story about the Christmas Angel bringing them only 3 gifts and then after Christmas would take the tree out to the backyard and turn it into a cross for Easter. I always thought that rather morbid.

Posted by: Alex511 | December 15, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the input on the elf. I think my son likes it because he can't really write yet and doesn't want to dictate a letter, and he is somewhat afraid of the mall Santas, so having a direct line into the old guy seems like a fantastic deal. I like the idea of Santa "looking into your heart" rather than keeping a tally of good/bad things you do. We stress that general concept in our church, so I think we'll be making that point about Santa now, as well. We've had a few incidents where he misbehaved (nothing major--he's earned his spot on the nice list, IMO) and got upset because he thought he wouldn't get any presents. All this is pretty surprising for me since we haven't really stressed Santa much at all, so I wonder if he's getting it from friends at preschool. That little elf is expensive (about $30 from what I've found), so I think we'll pass. I'd rather spend the money on other things. Perhaps our neighbor's elf could visit here for the day and that would be enough to make him happy.

I really like the idea of the Three Wise Men! That's the prevailing tradition in Spain (Los Reyes Magos), where kids get their gifts on Epiphany. I think it fits better with the Christmas story, but Santa is a hard one to ignore here in the States.

Thanks to all for the Christmas boost! I'll be sad the Christmas my kids no longer believe, but I still think Christmas will be a special time for us.

Posted by: sjneal | December 15, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

So, doesn't the tree get all torn up with a bunch of people digging through it to find the pickle? Is there a rule about not breaking heirloom ornaments in your search?

Posted by: VaLGaL | December 15, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

The Elf idea sounds cute but we would never be good at something you do every night. We have a hard enough time with the advent calendar.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 15, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

"Is there a rule about not breaking heirloom ornaments..."

You mean the one that still plays "You Light Up My Life". Man is that one annoying. Special prize to the one that accidentally breaks it.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | December 15, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Oh as far as wrapping, one idea that we came up with is Santa brings the large presents that are difficult to wrap. Like a bicycle or a doll house type toy. Then I sewed two large red cloth bags and inserted a gold fabric rope tie. It is pretty big. Like the size of a garbage bag. I embroidered their names on the front of the bags. So other smaller Santa gifts go in the bag unwrapped. They still get the surprise of opening up the bag to see what is inside.

The parents bring the nice geometeric shaped boxes that are easy to wrap. I can wrap them and start putting them under the tree as soon as the tree is up.

It saves a lot of time on Christmas eve. Of course we still have to spend some time assembling certain gifts but it does help with the whole hide and stash thing.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 15, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I remember how wonderful it was to find out my parents were Santa! I've always loved surprises, and they really pulled one over on me. That was pretty magical, too. Haven't you ever been completely surprised by a surprise party? It's that feeling.

Speaking of surprises, we didn't find out the gender for either of my girls until their birthdays. I've never been a present shaker, so it suited me! If we have a 3rd, we're finding out.

Posted by: atb2 | December 15, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I think I said last week that our 17 and 12-y-o still pretend to believe in the "Wish Father" just to humor DH and me.

"Wish Father" is a Pagan alternative for Santa. We borrowed him from some of our Asatru friends. It's one of the (many) alternative names for Odin - or maybe Thor. I'm afraid I'm a little bit vague on the roles and appelations of the Norse pantheon.

Posted by: SueMc | December 15, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Sunflower -

I found out. I figured, I can't cook the kid any faster than nature allows, but I'm impatient. Plus - all the people who want to be "surprised". You're surprised either way, it's only a matter of when you get the surprise. You don't get to pick if you find out at the ultrasound. And the tech will tell you when to look away.

But I like the idea of this being a gift you will share on Christmas morning too. If it weren't this afternoon, you could even wrap 2 "baby's first christmas" ornaments, and tell the tech to only give you the one that matches the ultrasound, and open it to hang on the tree. Either way, have fun.

Posted by: JHBVA | December 15, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

On the Santa topic - I grew up Jewish in northern NJ. In my town, Santa rides around on a fire truck on Christmas Eve, through all the neighborhoods, and gives out stockings of small toys and candy. At least he did when I was a kid. And I remember sitting by the window watching for the fire truck, although I don't have any memory of friends believing in Santa. I do remember, when I was about 7 or 8, my mother suggesting that maybe we should stop walking to the corner to get a stocking, since we don't actually celebrate Christmas. It was just fun for all the neighborhood kids, and an extra present for us.

Posted by: JHBVA | December 15, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

The parents bring the nice geometeric shaped boxes that are easy to wrap. I can wrap them and start putting them under the tree as soon as the tree is up.

It saves a lot of time on Christmas eve. Of course we still have to spend some time assembling certain gifts but it does help with the whole hide and stash thing.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 15, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

People actually wait until Christmas Eve to wrap stuff? We do it all head of time and just wait to put the stuff under the tree. I don't see the difference between hiding wrapped and unwrapped presents - either way, you have to stash them somewhere, and it's much easier to do the wrapping ahead of time.

Posted by: dennis5 | December 15, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, because I hide the pickle, I never get the gift certificate.

Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | December 15, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse


Is that anything like hide the salami?

Posted by: jezebel3 | December 15, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse
__________________________________

Thank goodness, no. I can't imagine playing hide the salami in the Christmas tree. The result would probably be an embarrasing trip to the ER.
_____________________________
So, doesn't the tree get all torn up with a bunch of people digging through it to find the pickle? Is there a rule about not breaking heirloom ornaments in your search?

Posted by: VaLGaL | December 15, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

_______________________________

You can't touch anything - you can only look. To be fair, I have to put the pickle down low enough so that the shortest person isn't at a disadvantage.


Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | December 15, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

To be fair, I have to put the pickle down low enough so that the shortest person isn't at a disadvantage.


Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | December 15, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

That works with hide the salami, as well.


Posted by: jezebel3 | December 15, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Dennis, we don't have a hide a large stash because we can put the wrapped parent presents under the tree ahead of time.

My SIL wraps Christmas eve. It did seem crazy to do all that wrapping. I suppose they could do it ahead of time but for whatever reason they wait till December 24th.

Some people don't even wrap Santa presents at all. My friend just arranges them.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 15, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

We found out!! It's a boy!! My DH had tears in his eyes! It was so sweet. We are waiting to tell family until Christmas. We host Christmas Eve so we are going to set the table with blue and silver or white and blue to tell my family and for Christmas Day we are thinking about making blue sugar cookies for his family.

Thanks for the good wishes!

Posted by: sunflower571 | December 15, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations sunflower! What a wonderful Christmas present!

Now, what are you going to name him? :)

Posted by: VaLGaL | December 15, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

YAY! What fun! Thanks for sharing it with us, Sunflower!

Posted by: LizaBean | December 15, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Ah sunflower, that's sweet. Joy tears! They will return in full when baby boy is born.

I've been to 3 Christmas celebrations this season so far, but it wasn't until today that the Christmas spirit finally awoke inside my head. I was wundering when it was going to happen, if at all this year, and today was the day.

Now, off to my oldest son's Christmas concert, he'll be playing the sax... Tis the season...

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | December 15, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations Sunflower! My oldest is a boy too. Mothers and sons have a special bond that is hard to explain, but wonderful in unexpected ways. Have lots of fun (and probably some kleenex on hand) sharing the joyous news!

Posted by: HuckleberryFriend | December 15, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

TheRealTruth announces for the first time in its history, there is a repeat winner of the coveted Poster of the Day award. Today’s honoree is pwaa for their simple, yet eloquent definition of believing in Santa.
And of course, TheRealTruth offers best wishes and congratulations to sunflower571 for the upcoming arrival of their little boy.

Posted by: TheRealTruth | December 15, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Apparently, when my oldest sister was about 4 or 5, her friends started talking about SC. Mom didn't want her to believe in him, so she told her he wasn't real. So the story goes she told all her little friends (mom didn't tell her not to tell, I guess) - and they all went crying home.
My middle sister always told me (when I'd ask) - we set you straight when you were really young.
My kids don't ask at all - like EVER. My 7 YO hasn't said one word about it. I guess we don't watch those shows (the ones I used to LOVE - like rudolph, and the year without a SC, etc) - and my son is SO PROUD that he's Jewish that I guess he wouldn't want to know any more about christmas. They even get into fights at school as to which is better (when I hear him talking like this - I try to tell him that neither is 'better' it's just that we all are different - is this the 'diversity' discussion from yesterday?).
We live in a far more christian neighborhood than I did when I grew up - so there's lots of lights around the neighborhood. The kids have at one time or another said they hate the lights - but I tell them *I* love the lights (mostly, they're pretty, or some people put out funny decorations, or whatever) - it's just not what *we* do. We do 'decorate' a little for hanukkah - since it's the festival (it's not even a holiday - don't get me started on that one) - that you are SUPPOSED to put the lights in the window and have people see it.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | December 15, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

OT: re: breaking ornaments

A friend of mine would typically get a keg for his friends, and he'd have a 'decorate the tree' party. So, all his jewish friends would go over and decorate the tree...we always had to be reminded (since it was in a corner) that we had to decorate BOTH SIDES of the tree or it would fall over.

Apparently, we had broken so many ornaments over the years, that one year we all had to bring an ornament to the party. It was DEFINITELY fun to go shopping for THAT!

Posted by: atlmom1234 | December 15, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

JHBVA: My husband freaked out when I told him that my mom would take us to Macy's (the big one, at Herald Square) every year to see Santa (usually we'd be in the city for something or other anyway).
DH thinks it's awful - since we're jewish. Mom did it cause she thought it was fun. I remember being 4 or so, and telling Santa he wasn't real, he was just someone playing santa, etc - and he kept arguing with me (I suspect that he got that a lot, tho) - i think mom stopped taking us when we would say we were jewish...mom thought it was fun - they used to give out candy and maybe even toys. Now even the santa's lap thing is so out of control i wouldn't even consider it.

so i ask DH all the time: is *this* okay? or that???? like...can I take the kids to the nutcracker? Or to see some lights, etc? I think he's a little silly in his 'boycott' of everything christmas, cause, well, the lights are pretty, people have parties, and me, well, I'm not so stressed out. And I don't have to see family...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | December 15, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

"It parallels the discussions we have had about whether or not Santa Claus will give him any gifts. When he is very naughty - which he was this weekend - he is worried about being passed over my Santa. I always tell him that Santa looks into your heart. That people do bad things and it doesn't make them bad people. If in their heart, they are trying then that is what is important. I presume that my stepson is not trying to be a completely ignorant, disrespectful self-absorbed person - it just sometimes comes out that way - so Santa will be arriving with gifts."

LOL. This year, my son is almost 10 and sadly he figured it out. Santa is mom and dad and everyone else. For me, the worst part of it is that I can no longer hold Santa and his magic telescope over my son's head when he is naughty. For the last few years, he has been really good in December thinking that Santa might be watching. This year, since he does not believe anymore, I can't threaten him with coal anymore. Sigh.

Posted by: emily8 | December 15, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm an atheist and our household is completely secular. We do celebrate many aspects of christmas (since both my wife and I had such traditions growing up)...like putting up a tree, giving gifts, decorating the house with lights, special foods/meals, etc. However, we've always told our kids that santa is a myth. We've never told them not to share this info. with their friends, and on occasion, other parents haven't liked that. Oh well.

Our now school-age kids have never had a "wish list," and have never shown any of the uglier, greedy behavior towards presents that some kids have. Maybe part of that is because they aren't "expecting" anything from SC. They know toys cost $$$ and also know that mom & dad aren't rolling in the stuff.

They're very respectful, VERY appreciative of any gift they get (no matter how small), and their childhood has been as special as I could ever have hoped for. No santa necessary for that.

Posted by: WHY3 | December 15, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

I don't know about my sister, but I still believe in Santa, even though he quit giving me presents after I moved out on my own. It was easy to tell which presents were from Santa (they were always the unwrapped ones in our house too!), and they were always something completely unexpected.

Our kids still believe so far, especially since watching "The Polar Express" and reading the book have become part of our secular Christmas traditions (we're Wiccans, so it's a secular holiday for us rather than a religious one). When our kids start asking questions, we'll probably explain to them how it's not wrong to still believe in Santa because he represents the spirit of goodwill towards others that is supposed to be a part of this time of year. Like the Easter Bunny, Santa is generous towards others with no strings attached, and what person would think that is wrong?

ValGal-I ROLLED when I read your comment on "hide the salami"...too funny! I can just see the paramedics' faces on that one!

Sunflower, congrats on your son! I must admit I'm old school on the subject of finding out the gender of the baby before or at birth. I waited until birth to find out with both my kids, and have no regrets about doing so. There are so few true surprises left in the world today, and women have been finding out at birth what the baby is for milennia, so who was I to buck "tradition?" Not to mention ultrasounds can be inaccurate....

That having been said, you are going to absolutely love watching your son grow and learn new things every day! I'll warn you now, they have a nasty habit of growing up TOO fast, though...every so often I can't believe my oldest is in second grade already. It seems like just yesterday she was a baby about to celebrate her first Yule/Christmas season! Congrats!

Posted by: dragondancer1814 | December 15, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

fr dragondancer:

>...ValGal-I ROLLED when I read your comment on "hide the salami"...too funny! I can just see the paramedics' faces on that one!...

Me too!

Posted by: Alex511 | December 15, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

They're very respectful, VERY appreciative of any gift they get (no matter how small), and their childhood has been as special as I could ever have hoped for. No santa necessary for that.

Posted by: WHY3 | December 15, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

I have no doubt that "SC" would bring them a PERFECTLY shaped lump of coal, if he existed.

Posted by: anonymous_one | December 15, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

OK, whose idea was it to alternate comments about hiding pickles with comments about boys' ultrasounds?

Posted by: di89 | December 15, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

I hear the Shelf Elf has been dating the Pacifier Fairy.

Posted by: di89 | December 15, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Congrats Sunflower. It will be a wonderful Christmas for you guys.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 16, 2009 7:03 AM | Report abuse

foamgnome,

Thank you! Yes, it will be a wonderful Christmas.

Posted by: sunflower571 | December 16, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

WHY3 said: "Our now school-age kids have never had a "wish list," and have never shown any of the uglier, greedy behavior towards presents that some kids have. Maybe part of that is because they aren't "expecting" anything from SC"

Believing in SC has little to do with the greedy behaviour towards presents. I have two step-children. One is incredibly avarious and one is appreciative. Same household - different attitudes.

To be honest, this year, I don't even care if I get a Christmas present from my step-son because it has become very clear that all he is interested in is what his loot from Christmas is going to be. This year, we purchased fewer but more expensive gifts. When he asked how many gifts I was giving him his response was that "it was boring". I was NEVER, EVER like that as a child. It completely floors me.

Posted by: Billie_R | December 16, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

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