I think we need to talk about Santa Claus. I remember him being this celebrated, exciting figure that represented much of the holidays for me. But when I became a parent, I made the conscious decision to eschew Santa Claus.
First of all, yes: I do battle and grapple with the inner monologue of, “But Santa Claus is fun for kids! You’re taking away some of your son’s childhood by removing Santa! Let him be a KID!”
But this isn’t a collection of words meant to convince you that YOU also need to eschew Santa Claus. I just want to tell you why I have, because something about the energy of Santa Claus has shifted along with all the major shifting our collective has gone through lately. With politics, and white supremacy, inequality, racism – everything.
As I began spending Christmases now with my son on this earth, I watched as little kids bawked and squawked at their parents, demanding more presents, while casting aside the nice hand-knit sweater Nana had made. It didn’t make me feel good inside. But. We would write off these behaviours because, “they are just kids.”
And I think we might be taking children’s power away when we do this; making assumptions about them based on how we were as children. We know kids are different now. We know they’re part of the collective evolution we’re on, and they’re just more aware and evolved than we were at their age.
We aren’t our parents.
And our kids aren’t us.
I remember the devastation I felt when I found out Santa wasn’t real. I bawled. And then the floodgates opened and I learned about the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, too. And you know how I felt? I felt like my parents had betrayed me.
Oof, that was hard. These were the people I was supposed to trust and rely on above all else, and I really remember feeling a sense of questioning and loneliness after the tough, tear-filled conversation on our couch.
Learning Santa isn’t real (or any fabricated character for that matter), is a tough time in a kid’s life.
As an adult, I found myself questioning why it was acceptable and encouraged to fabricate this lie to my child because it was “fun for him” and a social norm. I was devastated after learning it was a lie; why do I want to perpetuate that feeling? And as I’ve expanded in my spirituality and awareness, I’ve learned I don’t have to just accept things because they are social norms and expected of me.
I think we are collectively questioning things about our culture, and we’re becoming increasingly aware that we don’t have to accept everything placed upon us. I think it’s natural to extend this idea and energy to things like traditions, holidays and even Santa Claus.
Because didn’t Coca-Cola invent the red-suit image of Santa Claus we know and celebrate anyway? Didn’t a company that sells a soda pop – once including cocaine on the ingredient list before we gathered knowledge about it and learned that it was pretty potent – design this person’s image we worship as a culture for the sake of selling a product?
You know, when I put the pieces together like that, the whole thing doesn’t make me necessarily feel great, or like it’s this essential teaching I need to pass on to my child. It kind of feels outdated or no longer in alignment with where we’re going.
naughty or nice? the social pressure of santa claus
One day while my son was at childcare, two of the other kids who didn’t accept Santa Claus in their family got in “trouble” for sharing that among the other kids. Their parents were given a firm talking to, so THEIR kids “didn’t ruin it” for the other kids who did believe in Santa.
Not only does this not make sense to me, but it energetically feels like we’re telling those other kids, “if you don’t believe what the collective believes, you are outcasted; being different means you’re an outcast and you don’t belong here.”
Which in the most primitive breakdown means, “You need to integrate into the community in this way, or you will be cast out, and if you’re cast out you will not survive.”
Why do we just assume everyone believes in Santa? Why can some stranger come up to my kid in a store and ask him, “if he’s been good this year” and what he wants “Santa to bring him”?
If he’s been “good” this year? What is “good”? What has society deemed “good behaviour” for my child? For our children? What are we actually teaching with that ingrained reactionary lesson?
Why do we have to believe in Santa?
And for the record, I know we aren’t forced to believe in Santa, but we kind of are. Culturally. It’s assumed among daycare that we all believe in Santa, and if we don’t, we’re asked not to talk about it so we can all maintain the lie.
My son is small. He’s only three years old. If Santa does come up, I’ve begun saying, “But we know Santa isn’t a real person, right? He just represents the spirit of Christmas?” My son nods, and it doesn’t matter if he understands fully, because I think it’s important he has no firm memory of this belief; that it just is.
People ask him about Santa all the time. But at home, we talk about it after.
Because Santa makes me uncomfortable!
Why do we promote that this bearded – white man – breaks into homes in the middle of the night, scuttling through our sacred space, eating cookies and leaving things behind? If we remove the image of “Santa” this feels a little silly to promote. And to be honest, I don’t want my kid to think this is acceptable behavior as a man, or a human being.
Santa is painted as a white man, you know? Why? Why is that?
I mean I know why. Because collectively we’re leveling up and realizing the far outreach of privilege and white supremacy, and we are trying to figure out how to dismantle that. We’re in the gathering information and processing it, phase. And hey, it’s pretty tough to come to terms with. But it’s necessary. The uncomfortable questions are necessary.
And I don’t want my son demanding a sleigh-full of presents from someone he doesn’t really know – expecting the world to just show up and give him things, because of privilege.
It is such a strange time to be raising children and guiding new souls on the path of humanity while we’re realizing all the fucked up things going on in our reality.
Even the idea of Santa Claus making a pit-stop in the mall for kids to sit on his lap (weird) and ask for things makes me uncomfortable.
And yet, I’m the weird one for not feeling really good about these things.
I’d rather create traditions with my son that are unique to our family, and aren’t designed around a societal norm that doesn’t feel right to me anymore.
Because you know what? It used to feel good! It did! I remember looooving Santa Claus and the holidays and my family coming over. But somewhere along our evolution the good parts got blended in with the not-so-good parts and now it’s hard to decipher what’s what.
it’s a wonderful lie
At the core of this “Christmas-feeling” I’m experiencing since I became a parent, is that I don’t ever want to lie to my kid. Even when I’m upset about something – anything – and my kid asks me what’s up, I don’t want to lie. Sure, I don’t need to divulge all the details that he may not understand while he’s young, but if he asks me something, I think it’s important to be honest and to set the tone of honesty and integrity in our family.
And maybe most importantly, I want him to always come to me. I don’t want to have that conversation with him where I dismantle Santa Claus – and the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. I don’t want him to realize I was part of a big lie for his entire life.
That I was in on it.
No. I’m only in with him.
I want him to trust me innately, and I want to be his safe place in the best possible way I can.
I guess I don’t know how important Santa Claus really is. He’s just the metaphorical symbol of the holiday – so can’t I just tell my kid that? That Santa Claus isn’t a real person and that he’s a symbol of the holiday – that he represents the Spirit of Christmas? Because kids are evolving. They get it.
They aren’t us.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment or head over to Instagram to join the conversation @TheBodyBook.
Related reads: How to Deal With Grief During the Holidays, How to Give Meaningful Holiday Gifts, 5 Ways to Keep a Grateful Mindset During the Holidays, and A Healer’s Guide to Spiritual Wellness Gifts for the Holidays.
VANESSA KUNDERMAN is an openhearted writer and storyteller who inspires others to discover their own paths and personal stories. She has a diploma in Creative Communications, and teaches at the University of Winnipeg. Her website, Rogue Wood Supply, is a large resource of modern spiritual practices centered around crystals, botanicals, and the moon. As an intuitive and crystal guide, she hosts sacred women’s workshops, offers crystal readings, and shares weekly moon phase oracles online. Vanessa and her work has been featured in Refinery29, The New Moon project, Cottage Life Magazine, and more. She is a mother and cancer survivor living in the Canadian Prairies. Follow Vannessa on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and check out her website.