Monday, April 4, 2011

Today I Thought About Traditions, Truth, Magic, and Memories.

One Christmas Eve, when I was 6 or 7 years old, I had gone to bed full excitement and sleeplessness - pretty common for most kids anticipating a visit from Santa.  I can't remember if I dozed a bit and then woke up, or if I stayed up late with no snoozing.  I do recall how around midnight I decided to sneak downstairs and brave a peek at the stockings that were hanging on the wall by the stairs.  I had to tiptoe past Matt and Kara's rooms as well as my parents'.  My parents didn't tolerate their children getting out of their rooms after they'd been put to bed, so this little jaunt was dangerous!

I moved stealthy out of my room, through the hall, and halfway down the stairs until I could see my stocking.  They'd been filled!  Santa had visited!!!!  **squeeeeeeee**  I could see a Potato Head Kid sticking out the top!  Then I heard a weird sound and realized that Santa could be in the other room - STILL HERE!  I lost my nerve, bolted up the stairs and back to the safety of my room, leaping into bed and squeezing my eyes shut.

Thumbs Up for Santa
(me at 1 year)

I swear it wasn't more than two minutes later when I heard someone enter my room.  I lay as still as a statue and kept my eyes closed tight.  Then someone with a soft, gentle touch tucked the blankets in around me and then left, closing the door quietly behind them.  At that point I bounded out of bed, ran to the door and whipped it open.  My parents' door was still closed and no one was in the hall!!!!  It was Santa, I was sure of it.  Only a magical being could have gotten away so quickly.

I had been tucked in by Santa Claus!  I felt so happy and special.

Until two years later when my parents told me that there was no such thing as Santa.  Or the Easter Bunny.  Or the Tooth Fairy.....

Thrilled Over Easter Goodies
(me at 2 years)

Time to grow up!  Haha.  Oldest children really ARE the guinea pigs.

So - here I am.  A parent.  Ash has had three Christmases now and we haven't talked about Santa once.  We have no books about Santa.  We don't sing about Santa.

The Spring Bunny visits on the first Saturday in Spring (March 20th).  There is no Easter Bunny, remember?

Solemn with Santa
(me at 3 years)
                                                              
My parents let the whole Santa Claus thing drop sometime around my 12th year and none of my younger siblings even think about it.  My family prefers to focus on the birth of Christ and the fun traditions that include that.  I'm game.  I'm a Christian and agree that that is where the emphasis should be.  Same thing with Easter.  As a matter of fact, I'm on a mission to figure out some fun, yet meaningful, bunny-less traditions to do this Easter.

But today, when I watched one of my younger siblings discover what the Tooth Fairy had left in exchange for one of their lost teeth - I started to wonder.....

Believing was so magical.  So fun.  So thrilling.  It was fuel for my imagination.  I loved it.  Am I missing  opportunities to give my children the same?

Smiles for the Easter Bunny
(me at 4 years)

But the truth was such a sad, crushing blow!  And I don't want my kids to feel like that.  So, maybe it's better to never go there in the first place.  And we really haven't missed it.  There are plenty of other traditions to adopt and things to focus on.

I'd love to know what your thoughts and feelings are on this.  

12 comments:

Vicky said...

Personally I think that Santa and the Tooth fairy are all part of the magic of childhood. (The easter bunny has never figured in my childhood mythology). Yes it will be a shame when my kids learn the truth (which is coming very soon!!!) as some of the magic fades, it becomes just mum & dad who do these things and thats not as fun!

Love the thumbs up for Santa at 1 year old!

Charlotte (Life's a Charm!) said...

My hubby and I have positive experiences with Santa in our childhood. I have good memories of my parents because of Santa. And my revelation of Santa was profound, I think. And because of this, I want the experience of Santa for my children, too.

In the aspect of religion, I was raised Roman Catholic and went to a Catholic School. But I think believing in Santa, or having that Santa experience for children, does not negate the REAL meaning of Christmas. IF you look at the history of Santa, he is a Christian saint.

But for you who actively participates in your church and accommodates a lot of Christian traditions, I do NOT think your kids are missing out on the 'Santa' experience. Don't you celebrate two Christmas's in a year?

AS for the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and all those other stuffs, I never experienced them. Only hubby did, it's an American thing, I guess!

I think the 'Tooth Fairy' helps the child to cope the loss of the tooth, that rather thinking about the loss tooth, (s)he will think about what the 'Tooth Fairy' will bring. So I'm okay with that.

As for the Easter Bunny, it's just fun! My in-laws sends Easter baskets for my kids that is labeled "From Grandma and Grandpa", and we do a little Easter egg hunt here. And Easter Bunny is just the mascot at Easter time.

MommyMert said...

Sorry... I guess I am opposite in this respect. The blow wasnt so bad for me. Because I got to help out for the younger kids after that, its all about the magic of the imagination and wonder it filled. I do believe in focusing on the real reasons for the seasons, but it doesnt hurt to have a little fun either. Alexa figured out the Easter bunny this year on her own, and she didnt seem bugged about it one bit. In fact, she laughed about it and told me that the "Easter Bunny" should know that she likes a certain kind of candy. I assured her that the "Easter Bunny" knew very well what she likes. However, I think whatever you do will make it special. Your children will have wonderful memories regardless and a big ol guy dropping off presents in the house in the middle of the night. ;) In fact, its probably safer than encouraging your child to sit on a strangers lap at Christmas and trust him. I always get worried about that, when I spend the rest of the year talking about stragner safety. hmm..

Ash said...

I agree that believing IS so magical. It's even magical now that I get to "play" the part. I know that for some, Santa represents someone who just brings presents to greedy kids, but for me Santa represents so much more. Maybe it's going to far, but when I think of Santa I think of Christ. His red suit reminds me of the Atonement, he gives gifts unselfishly, we have to believe that he's real without seeing him, he watches us and encourages us to be good...I think that Santa can be used to help us understand important principles better, or he can be the guy who brings us stuff on our list. Either way, it's an exciting part of childhood. Whatever you decide for you family I'm sure will be right for your family :)
P.s.-I have no idea what to think about the Easter Bunny!

Amy said...

First of all, your girl look EXACTLY like you!! So cute!!!!!

And I have to admit.... I'm a huge sucker for Santa Claus, easter bunny, all that stuff. I'm also a sucker for meeting Disney Princesses (who also aren't real), pretending to be things I'm not like on Halloween, and looking up to characters like Frodo and Harry Potter, who also also aren't real.
I totally agree with you that the focus of Easter and Christmas should be on the Savior. 100%. And I agree that it's hard to do that when there's so much commercialism with a fat guy in a red suit and a bunny. But... I can't help it. I'd like to do both!

KBoo said...

Well, I was CRUSHED when I learned there weren't faeries, I seriously felt like my whole world came crashing down. On the flip side though, it gave a whimsical magic to my childhood that I will never regret. Loved it.
I always tell my kids "Legend has it..." then they can decide for themselves. Drives my Honest-Abe-Husband nuts. Lol.

Rachel said...

I've debated about this myself, and I still haven't made a decision. Andrew still has no idea about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. However, I think this may be the last year we can get away with that.

I loved the idea of Santa and the Easter Bunny when I was little. It was so exciting to sneak out of bed, like you described!

Scott and I have decided to have an Easter egg hunt a few weeks before Easter this year and focus on the Savior on Easter Sunday. Also, my neighbors growing up didn't grow up believing in Santa. They would open all of their presents on Christmas Eve and then spend Christmas Day celebrating the birth of Christ and spending the day together as a family. It worked for them! =]

I also agree with Amy, your little girls look EXACTLY like you!

Stephanie Faris said...

You were ADORABLE as a kid. Look at that little button nose!

Milk and Honey Mommy said...

Jamie,

You have a great treasure of pictures. This was/is a hard one. I'm not really sure when I learned there was no Santa Claus. Maybe it was because my parents never really did the Santa talk even though Santa - a dear family friend - called every Christmas morning. When I really knew he didn't exist, I wasn't bothered, but I did devastate another child when I told her there was no Santa Claus. I think her parents still allowed me to play w/her after that. I wasn't trying to hurt her, but rather just tell the truth.

Although our focus during Christmas is on Jesus, my children watch movies and have been read books where Santa Claus is mentioned. They do know that he is fictious, but I do understand one wanting their children to experience "the magic" of childhood. The only thing is that I also want them to know fiction from reality.

Aunt LoLo said...

I can remember, when I was 10, it was Christmas eve. Myrnie and I were tucked into bed, but we could hear "Santa Clause" futzing around down the hall. Or it might have been my parents. We hadn't decided yet what we wanted those noises to be when my father came to our room and quietly asked us to come out. He led us into my mother's beautiful formal dining room, and showed us a box full of a gorgeous, hand painted, tea set. My father told us that it was a surprise for Mom, and asked if we'd help him set it out on the dining room table, just like if it were a tea party.

We loved the excitement of sneaking around and participating in this secret. Then, in the morning, my father led our younger siblings into the room. "Look what Santa Clause brought for Mom!!!" It took me just a split second to make the adjustment. I wasn't the type of kid to call my father on something like that, but I decided then and there that "Santa Clause" was magic...and if your parents setting out gifts in the middle of the night made the morning magical...then that was fine with me. I was all about the excitement.

alissa4illustration said...

We strongly believe in all the magical stuff here. You mean Santa isn't real? Just look up Saint Nicholas in any encyclopedia. He's in everyone of them. ;) He is to real! If you celebrate Jesus, why not celebrate good old St. Nick?

I think by celebrating it, it brings back the magic for the parents too! I have so much fun being secret, quiet, getting that special paper out that only Santa uses. Setting up Easter egg hunts that knock your socks off. Each egg has a riddle that takes you to the next set of eggs. Then their basket is hid somewhere ridiculous. It's just as much fun for me as it is the kids.

It also carries a little leverage for good behavior. Santa is watching you know!

I wasn't too disappointed when finding out. My parents told me that Christmas didn't stop because I knew. I just got to help hide eggs and pick out presents for my younger sister.

When she stopped believing we knew of a family that really had no money. We got them lots of presents and delivered packages to their door. My dad ran so fast to our get away car. It was magical once again. I loved that those kids got presents! I didn't even know them. But I imagined the look on their faces when they opened the door, and saw that Santa didn't forget about them.

Myrnie said...

I don't remember when I knew that Santa wasn't real, I just knew at some point. The holidays were still magical to me, seeing all the decorations and finding stockings full of goodies. Even though I knew my parents did it all I still loved it and loved seeing how much my younger siblings loved it.