The Equuschick Killed Santy Claus

At least at our house. We’ve shared he story before, but it seemed good to me to tell it again this year….

I am not telling this story in order to tell somebody else what they ought to do or not do. This not a post that ought to make anybody feel guilty, at least, nobody but I should feel guilty. This is not a post to persuade anybody else to do Christmas as we do. It’s just a post with a funny story about why The Equuschick is responsible for the fact that we don’t do Santa. Just read it and laugh (please laugh). Don’t read it and feel guilty. Your family, your call. This is just a ‘what happened to us’ post, ‘kay?

I was raised in a Christian home, and I believed in Santa, and- for my part, and this is just my opinion and the story isn’t over yet, so don’t leave if you’re anti-Santa- I don’t think it harmed me a bit. My parents made it their practice to tell us ‘the truth about Santa’ when we were around six years old. I don’t even remember when and how I learned, but I do remember that when my youngest brother still believed and I was around ten years old, I thought it was very cool to be ‘in’ with this secret bit of Grown-Up Knowledge.

So we started out to do the same thing with our children. All went well with my first daughter. When she discovered the ‘truth’ about Santa, she thought it was fun to learn the secret. Didn’t harm her a
bit. She also thought it was very, very glamorous and exciting to have this esoteric grown up secret.

By this time, I must tell you, I was very smug about the non-Santa camp. Those who suggested that this was deceiving children and they would wonder if you were telling them the truth about Jesus later, well, I won’t tell you what I thought. It wasn’t pretty. It was arrogant. Those who said it would crush children to learn the truth, well, obviously they were just silly. Hadn’t I learned and been unbowed? And the HG, hadn’t she positively reveled in the discovery of this mystery? Clearly, the other case had no merits.

Along came our second daughter, the redoubtable Equuschick. I welcomed her into the big girl world of No Santa Because It’s All Just a Lovely Pretend, Isn’t It, Darling? She was indignant. She was very upset to hear that there was no Santa, and she actually refused to believe me. Things did not go well. All my smug assumptions were exploded, one by one, by my small daughter. She argued for at least a week, maybe two. It was horribly traumatic.

FOR ME!

The thing is, I *really* liked Christmas and all the trappings. I loved them. I reveled in them, and we romped through every Christmas tradition with great joy and frivolity every single year. I collected Christmas and wrapped it around us like a warm blanket. I had no internal conflict with the Victorian traditions of Christmas (trees, Santa, mistletoe, stockings, holly, ivy, elves, and so called secular carols) and religious traditions.

So we were going all out- my husband would sneak outside at night to ring bells, and I would say to the girls, “Hush! Listen? What could that be?” They would be all wide-eyed wonder and gasp, “It’s Santa’s sleigh bells,” and I, carefully not lying, would say, “do you think so?”

I bought Santa his own wrapping paper and hid it carefully away so that all his presents were wrapped in paper the children had not seen, (my husband and a single friend who came over to help wrap presents one year laughed a me over this. That would be the year before the Equuschick learned about Santa and the Glorious Pretend) and our presents were wrapped in distinctly different wrappings and bows. We put out cookies and milk, with carrots for the reindeer, naturally. We wrote letters to Santa. We discussed how he could get down chimneys where there were no chimneys. We got the pictures taken in Santa’s lap. After the children went to bed we would put out presents from Santa and fill their stockings and I was so excited on Christmas morning that I woke up my children more often than they woke me up (this is still true). We once had a friend come out to the house in his Santa Suit to give them a couple early presents. He was a friend of a friend, so the girls wouldn’t recognize him. That was great fun.

One thing I did not do was come right out and say that he was real. If asked, I never said yes. I always responded by asking, “well, what do you think?” I never came right and overtly lied about it. I just built up all
these corroborating details by my actions without ever in word saying that Santa Claus was real.

Keep in mind that these are the sorts of things my parents did, too, and yet I wasn’t bothered when I learned it was one great big giant pretend, and I never heard that my brothers were, either . Our eldest never was
bothered by it, either.I am stressing that because I need to keep reminding myself that the exact same process happened with four other children I know of and they all were JUST FINE with learning about the make believe part.

But then the Equuschick was six, and it was time to let her in on this delightful, hilarious, very coolly grown up secret- that there was no Santa.

She was not delighted, hilarified, or even mildly amused. She was angry, indignant, and, in fact, she scoffed at such a notion. She refused to believe me.

She thought about it all day every day, and it seems like weeks later she was still coming up to me to argue about it. “But if Santa isn’t real, how come his wrapping paper is different from all the other presents, huh? How about that? He IS real, isn’t he?” And I would have to hang my head and mutter that, well, daddy and I bought that wrapping paper too, and just hid it in the back of the closet and only used it for Santa’s presents. She’d look shocked, and, I thought, dismayed at her parent’ perfidy. She’d walk off shaking her head. I have to confess I was secretly pleased with this one, because my husband thought the wrapping paper bit was unnecessary and the girls were too little to notice and not logical enough to draw conclusions. I drew what comfort I could from the fact that the Equuschick was clearly more logical than most small children. Devastatingly so.

Then a day or two later she’d back with, “If Santa isn’t real, how come we set out cookies and milk and carrots for the reindeer and then they are gone in the morning? That proves it.” And I’d have to confess that, well, Daddy and I ate the cookies and carrots, and drank the milk. Then she’d be shocked. I still shudder over having to admit the truth to her when she demanded indignantly, “You ATE Rudolph’s CARROT? YOU?” The best I could say in my defense was, “Well, Daddy helped!”

I felt wretched. And, of course, she never asked her father any of these accusatory questions even though he was just as involved in the conspiracy as I. No, she only grilled and humiliated me. Not even when she said, “But we HEARD Santa! There were footsteps on the roof and bells from the sleigh outside! Of COURSE he’s real!” And I would have to sheepishly admit that Daddy sneaked out while they thought he was in the bathroom and did this whole bell ringing gig just to make this great pretend more fun. “YOU KNEW it was daddy all the time?!” Well, yes. And Daddy knew it, too, obviously, so why couldn’t she go wound his ego with these questions, child, why? “It was just for fun, ” I assured here. Oh, yes. Lots of fun. “Wasn’t it lots of fun?” I pleaded.

It is a chilling thing to face the Equuschick’s sardonic and accusatory eye, even when she was only six years old (and wearing about size 4T clothes). From an infant nobody has been able to snub with a look better than the Equuschick. I quaked in my socks. I had nothing to say.

A day or two later she would be back, “But we wrote to him! We told him what we wanted for Christmas and we wrote it in a letter and mailed it to him. What about that?!” And so it went- she would come up with a new argument, I would explain it and be embarrassed as I stood before my tiny judge who continued to be shocked at every new evidence of her parent’s (not parents’, just the one parent, me) perfidious behavior.

We never did Santa with the rest of the children. Probably they’d all have the personalities to be able to take it in the humorous and fun spirit which we intended, but we’re not interested in taking a chance. I personally don’t ever want to repeat the experience of having a child indignantly exclaim “You Ate Rudolph’s carrot? How could you?.” It was humiliating and made me feel ashamed.

I think it’s interesting that she never once questioned the existence of God through all this. She didn’t doubt that _He_ was real. She just doubted that her parents were sane and reliable people. No, let’s be honest about this- she doubted that her mother was sane and reliable. Daddy’s position remained he same. I am not bitter about this. Very much. I am not sure I have ever managed to regain my status in her eyes.

It’s also interesting that she is now 23 and she does not remember any of this. She doesn’t remember believing in Santa, she doesn’t remember finding out he wasn’t real, she doesn’t remember spending a week or two holding me over the coals with her constant challenges She thinks it’s all very funny now.

Me, I’m scarred for life.
So that is why we don’t do Santa. Nothing deep, nothing philosophical or theological, just the traumatizing experience of falling in the teeth of the six year old Equuschick’s formidable logic skills.

We do tell the youngest lot that there was a man name Saint Nicholas who gave money to poor people, and that this is who Santa is based on. It’s touchy, because then we get in situations such as the one where one of my children flatly announced to another child, “Well, Santa was a real man, but he’s dead now.”

(I have *told* them and told them not to tell other people that Santa’s dead or that he isn’t real, to allow the other children to pretend as their parents prefer, as I think it’s terribly important to respect the decisions other parents make for their families, but it’s hard for children to remember these things).

So we don’t do Santa. We still hang our stockings and they are filled in secret. There will always be new (to us) presents under the tree on Christmas morning. There will be rustlings and whispers and giggles in the night as we pass each other putting treats in each other’s stockings. There will no lack of ‘magic,’ it will just be a magic of a different kind. And those who do Santa will not be accidental pagans, lying to their children and laying the foundations for a shattered faith.- unless, of course, they have a child like The Equuschick. And if that’s the case, they have bigger problems (and more joy) than they can imagine.=)

P.S. People have asked why we told our children instead of letting them figure it out.  Mainly because that’s what my parents did.  My parents did this because my father believed in Santa until he was 12, and believed so strongly that he actually got in a fight with somebody at school over it and then found out he’d been fighting to defend a fiction.  He was furious. His mother thought it was ‘cute.’  Probably those suggesting that it would have been better if we had let her figure it out, waited ’til she was older, ‘or even toned down our excessive pretends- yes, you are probably all correct.  But that’s not what happened.=)  This is why this is not a morality tale, it’s just a funny story of how the Equuschick scarred me for life.

This entry was posted in Celebrations/feasts/memorials/high holy days, parenting, Who We Are. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

22 Comments

  1. Homeschoolin' hot-rodders
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Thats funny and horrible at the same time! We don’t do Santa either…for us 1st and foremost it is because of trust issues with our oldest daughter we adopted. After the reaction we got when dad took her snipe hunting I’d say we made a good call….bad horrible mom :(. Anyway…our son (who is now 6) absolutely refused to believe us that there was no such thing as Santa lol. What a year that was!

    Angela

  2. Mama Hen
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    That’s a great story, glad it didn’t happen to me though!

  3. merry
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    What a great story. Our son was 9 when he joined our family and he already knew the truth about Santa Claus, but I suspect he would have reacted much the same as the EC.

  4. Maggie
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Santa is a big deal with my Mom's family becasue my Grandfather earned extra money playing Santa at his cousin's department store. My 9 YO seems a bit put out. Last year after another big family Christmas party where Sants came by (on his way back to the North Pole after delivering all the presents), my son declared ont he way home,"That was just some guy in a red suit." To which I responded "Yes, but isn't it fun?" This year so far, we have been listening to a radio station that is playing all Christmas music and they have a commercial playing snippets from" Miracle on 34th Street" Where the Mom is saying "Tell her ther is no such thing as Santa Clause." My son says 'That's right, there is no such thing."

    However, in the family there is a lore about how Santa's elf Fred is in a retirement home becasue he was assigned to watch over several of hte boy cousins int heir youth and they kept him very busy. Fred was made up to assist in keeping them in line during the Holiday season.
    My son, however is asking what will be put in his Stockings (we Do stockings Dec 6th for the Feast of St. Nicholas).

    I also want to say that I appreciate you writing the other day about why you see the lack of religious significance to teh holiday. Now it makes sense to me. Of course as a Catholic, Christmas Day is a Holy Day of Obligation where we attend Mass. It is one of the two Masses a year the C&E Catholics attend – (Christmas and Easter Catholics. LOL!). Since other Christian denominations cancel Church Services when Christmas falls on a Sunday, it seems as if your point is somewhat wide-spread. I quite understand it.

  5. Headmistress, zookeeper
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Glad y’all enjoyed. Laugh, it wasn’t YOUR reputation on the line (just teasing, you are supposed to laugh).

    Maggie, that’s an interesting observation. For what it’s worth, my own church would *never* cancel a church service because Christmas fell on a Sunday. Every local congregation I have ever been a part of continued with church as usual no matter what holiday fell on Sunday, and attendance doesn’t vary much either. Even when football games conflict.=)

  6. Homeschoolin' hot-rodders
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Our Congregation is the same way HM. I can count on one hand how many times a service has been cancelled, and it has always been due to weaher or the fact that we were all attending another congregation for the evening (revival or some sort).

  7. Tim's Mom
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    That was funny! We started not doing Santa, but I think Miss M wants to believe it – she seems to have a need for that kind of fantasy. I haven’t pressed the issue or insisted that there’s no Santa, I don’t know what we’ll do with her.

  8. Angela
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    I stopped believing in Santa when I was 6. I had been having doubts so (being me) I looked Santa up in the dictionary, where I was informed that Santa is ‘a mythical creature for the amusement of children’ which is exactly what I told my mom later when she asked me what I wanted from Santa this year. It’s her favorite story.

    I love reading this story over and over, but one thing I never understand is, why did y’all tell the children Santa isn’t real? I have *never* heard of a family doing that. No matter where I’ve lived, the families we knew always let the kids figure it out for themselves.

  9. Anne-Marie
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    I laughed when I first read this story last year, and I laughed again this year. IME logic such as the Equuschick displayed is more common in small children than most people suspect (or notice).

    Our family doesn’t do Santa Claus either. Most of the cousins’ do. Before going over to Grandma’s, we remind the kids about living and letting live. Well, one year on Boxing Day one of our kids completely accidentally spilled the beans to a cousin, who was devastated. You’re right that it’s hard for kids to remember that other families do things differently. And when they do remember, it is sometimes VERY hard for truth-telling kids to answer some of their cousins’ questions.

    OTOH, all Santa families that I know expect their kids to learn the truth sometime, and (unless the parents tell at an early age as you did) usually they learn it from another kid. Most often they learn it from a kid who himself used to believe in Santa, so it’s not as though the non-Santa families are the only threat to the Santa families’ make-believe game.

  10. bonnie
    Posted December 4, 2008 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    I remember the day My Father told me Santa wasn’t real. I remember all the details. I was devastated. That’s why we don’t do Santa Claus. =)

  11. My Boaz's Ruth
    Posted December 5, 2008 at 2:49 am | Permalink

    1/ The early Christians, as far as we can tell, celebrated death days. Not birthdays.

    2/ I do not remember being devastated by the knowledge about Santa Claus. OTOH my parents never worked up Santa real big (different wrapping paper? Bells?!) I can imagine, the type of person I am, if they have it would have destroyed me to discover they had been lying by actions.

    We have not decided about what we are doing about Santa. Theodore is 16.5 months this year. There will be no gifts from Santa. I guess we have to decide by next year.

  12. Wenonah4th
    Posted December 5, 2008 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    I think there’s a little less risk if Santa Claus is a pretty minor thing, but present while children are young enough to believe it. Our dd is two this year so she has the faintest idea of what this is all about. Santa Claus will fill stockings, nothing else. No cookies left out, no bells, etc- just “Santa Claus has been here!” when we get to the stockings.

    I’m dreading when my nephew- 7, now, so probably questioning it- finds out, because his mother has made it such a big thing for him.

  13. realmomma
    Posted December 5, 2008 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    My oldest is now six, and the plain fact of the matter is that it just gets harder to hide the truth. I think I see the logic in telling them at six or so (coming clean with the truth) rather than letting them find out on their own that it was pretend. Don’t know what we’ll do — I have some ideas. I’m sorta hoping to wait until it appears that he is very quizzical and then let him come Santa shopping with me for the other kids. The biggest problem is that he is quite the emotional little guy, and I can see many tears in the future over the revelation.

    But, I do love your story. If you continue to post it every Christmas it will become a holiday regular for me — just like “The Night Before Christmas”.

  14. GB
    Posted December 5, 2008 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    What a story! Maybe it’s also a matter of “when” a child comes to know the truth – maybe for your daughter it was to early to let her know: some children need the “magic” side of things to live longer than other kids do. Having said this, we haven’t decided what to do in our household because the children are very young, but we’ll soon have to reach our conclusion on this big issue!!

  15. Cat
    Posted December 5, 2008 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    In my college writing class, we were asked to write a paper on a traumatic experience in our lives. It seemed that a third of the class wrote about how devastated they were when they found out their parents had lied to them about Santa Claus. That’s why we don’t make a big deal of Santa with our little ones. A stocking and familiarity with some of the Santa poems and songs is enough to give them some fun without setting them up for trauma later.

  16. Liz
    Posted November 11, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    We just decided that we wanted to focus more on the nativity story, so although we talk about Santa and hang up stockings, we don't make a big deal out of it, and we don't spend tons of money on the stocking gifts.

    Nothing like a friend of ours whose daughter was really really upset by the idea that a weird old man was going to come into her room while she was asleep!

  17. HomeschoolShirts.com
    Posted December 13, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Love this! That is almost exactly what happened at our house with my second daughter! We no longer "do Santa" either anymore. We did the same things with the wrapping paper, but now we have more fun actually, and the children are more thankful for the gifts that are from "us".

    Our big problem is the grandparents who don't respect that we'd rather have our children know the truth and tell us we're "stealing" from their childhood. But, I'd rather get the accusations from them than our children. Our children are fine and it's what's best for our family. 🙂

    Over the years I've become very shy about the whole thing because of the rude remarks from extended family, so you've given me courage in knowing that I'm not the only one and that our decision isn't wrong – thanks! 🙂

  18. Mary Prather
    Posted December 21, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    I am so glad I took the time to read this… I love how you preface your post with saying it's your house you do what you want.

    I think watching the Santa debate unfold online each Christmas is interesting. I love your story – and it just goes to show how each child is different, and I do believe TRUTH is a good thing.

    We do celebrated with Santa here – and my oldest (10) knows he is not real but she helps us keep the magic alive for her brother who is 7. I wonder how he will react when he finds out. Hopefully he will see the love and care daddy and I put into it and that we just wanted some childhood magic for him.

    What a funny and lovely post. Thank you for linking to THree THinking Mothers today!

  19. Fatcat
    Posted December 22, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    I never told my kids about Santa either. I always said "what do you think?" and the only thing we did at night was get rid of the cookies and put out the presents. No jingle bells, no reindeer footprints, just the very very basics and we tried to never say they were from Santa, just "what do you think?" but the kids insisted on believing. I can't say that I have enjoyed the tradition. I would not encourage my kids to do it with their kids. My youngest has been so determined to believe and we have not known how to broach the subject … and Santa gets all the credit for all MY thoughtful shopping.

  20. Carol
    Posted December 22, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Great post. I love your sensitive diplomacy too. This is a touchy issue for so many people!

    I never encouraged my children to believe Santa was real but we did "pretend" for fun sometimes. In fact, I was careful to explain to my kids when they were very young that we were just pretending when I saw they were taking it seriously.

    The reason I went that route is that I was a child very much like your EC and I can only imagine my reaction if my parents had told me it was real (they didn't) and I discovered or was told the truth later. It would not have been pretty.

    So because of my own sensitivities, I decided not to mess around with a fantasy like that and only deal in absolute, clear, straightforward truthfulness in all areas of life – as much as it's in my power to do. (If I don't want to tell the truth about something, I may decline to discuss the issue, but I try very hard to never mislead or obfuscate.) This has worked well for me.

    Anyway, I know this post is mainly just a funny story and I don't mean to drag it into controversial areas. I enjoy hearing other ideas and perspectives and offer a reminder to all of us not to take disagreements as criticism.

    I think your comments section is populated by very nice, reasonable people.

    (And our church is not cancelling Sunday services for Christmas either. I don't know of any local churches of any denomination that are. We are Evangelical Free.)

  21. Susan
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed reading this story very much! Thanks for sharing at TTM this week.

  22. Posted December 20, 2013 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    hehe… we didn’t really do ‘Santa’ growing up. Nor tooth fairy, nor easter bunny. We knew about them, knew they went with the holiday, but knew they were pretend. I really think all these characters go in the same pot, really. Some just have more stories that go with them.

    When I lost my first tooth, Dad sat down with me and we drew the ‘tooth fairy’ and described his ‘powers’. Well, Dad drew, I talked. He was a gnomish looking guy, with a beard. He could go through glass, but had to take the screen off the window.

    On Christmas, we would leave cookies and milk (and later eggnog, since that’s what Dad said he liked) and then ask Dad in the morning if ‘Santa’ liked what we left him. When we visit Grandparents, who would put out a gift from ‘Santa’ (labeled “From Santa Claus”), we were required/encouraged to express our thanks to “Santa”, not Grandma (since she cared… we didn’t). I learned rather effectively how to surf the two worlds, and it was never a big deal to us. Though in fact, I do remember one time when a boy younger than me was talking about Santa, and I said something about Santa being make-believe, and the boy got really upset, which upset me and ended in a long conversation about how different families do this kind of thing differently and not to upset the other family if I could help it. Being the people pleaser I am, I was happy to retract my views of Santa (and I think I did to the little boy) and extend my make believe.

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