Santa Claus is coming to town?

The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting colder, and tomorrow the new term starts. Before we know it, Christmas will be here (yay!!!) and it’s looking quite likely that this Christmas could be very different for us with the possible arrival of our 2 children! This has got us thinking about how we want to celebrate Christmas as a family, what traditions we want to start and what ground rules we want to establish.

One thing we’ve both always felt strongly about is that we don’t want to encourage our children to believe in Father Christmas. Please don’t condemn me until I’ve explained why.

  1. We don’t want to ever lie to our children. It’s not just the untrue claim that Father Christmas exists, but it’s all of the pretence that goes with it. Sending letters, visiting a man in fancy dress, sprinkling reindeer food and leaving out a mince pie and carrot. Parents often have to work hard to convince their children that Father Christmas IS real! And that results in quite a lot of deception that we aren’t comfortable with. We want our children to know that they can always get an honest, frank answer from us. We want them to know that we have never misled them. As adoptive parents, we are going to have to work extra hard to gain our children’s trust, we don’t want to make it harder. And as Christians, we don’t want learning about our Heavenly Father to be overshadowed by or confused with stories of a mythical ‘Father’.
  2. We want to teach our children grace. Father Christmas expects boys and girls to earn their gifts, but that’s not what gifts are. Gifts are given freely without condition or clause. Gifts are abundant and loving. If our children think they need to earn their Christmas presents by making it onto the list, how do they know anything good we give them isn’t conditional? How do they know our love isn’t? How do they know God’s love isn’t? Now of course children need to learn the value of hard work and reward. But not in the context of gifts. At no other time in life are we expected to earn gifts. The shame that is often attached to adoption means our children may find it hard to accept that we love them unconditionally. They may often feel they need to earn it, or that they never can. We don’t want to reinforce this through scaremongering tactics.
  3. Parents should be their children’s main authority. It drives me mad when I hear parents say things like “if you keep making a noise, the policeman will come and get you,” “if you don’t go to sleep, Father Christmas won’t come.” First of all, neither of those things are true. Second of all, do we want our children to be afraid of policemen?! And thirdly, why can’t we say, “don’t do that because I said and I’m your parent?!” When did being a parent not be enough to expect obedience?!
  4. We think the truth is more exciting! Christmas is the time of year that Christians celebrate God becoming human in order to be a  sacrifice by which we could know Him. That’s really exciting! It means gifts beyond any Christmas List that Father Christmas could ever bring.  Furthermore, Saint Nicholas, on whom the myth of Father Christmas is based, was an excellent man! He fiercely defended the gospel and apparently even punched a heretic in the face(!?) We want to teach our children the truth about Saint Nicholas, and still enjoy the myths, but knowing that they are myths. Most of all, we want Christmas to be about celebrating the real hero of the season, the greatest gift ever given, Jesus Christ.

3120969316_6ecdb66f97_o.jpgAs we’ve talked about this recently, we’ve realised that it is very likely that our children’s foster carers won’t have felt the same, and so it is likely our children will already believe in Father Christmas. We don’t want to shatter their fantasies as soon as they walk in through the door, we equally don’t want to go against our principles in order to keep up the pretence. We will probably try and play down Father Christmas, whilst having a really great Christmas, and eventually fade him out until he is just a nice character in books and films.

I hope, if you are big Father Christmas fans, that you won’t be offended. I love Christmas, and I always love it when people are enjoying the season, I do also quite like Father Christmas as an idea and I especially love all the films about him (Miracle on 34th Street, Santa Claus: The Movie, The Santa Clause…)  This is what we have decided after a lot of thought and discussion, it doesn’t mean it’s right for all families.

If you have any experience of this in adoption, or if you have similar or different views on Father Christmas, I’d love to hear them and to know your tips in general for surviving Christmas with kids!

Image :kennedyrox (2008)
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7 thoughts on “Santa Claus is coming to town?

  1. Tooting Mama says:

    This brings so many memories for me!

    Christmas is so important for us. Our kids were older children when we adopted them, and they came believing in Santa – and in a way that was good.

    For my youngest when she moved in she really believed Santa would not find her. And for her if Santa couldn’t find her it meant she didn’t really exist. I remember her seeing our chimneys for the first time and how ecstatic she was that Santa would be able to get into the house. She had already had a number of moves by then, so for her, permanence was rooted in Santa being able to finding.

    Yes, we do play into the Santa myth, it helps them be kids but around it you can build your values. For us Christmas is about being a family spending time together not just spend, spend, spend. We read the Night Before Christmas, bake cookies, leave carrots out for Rudolph (he eats them) and yes they do believe, still. I love it!

    Last year we moved to Paris, so Santa had to find us again – yup we played up Santa big time! It did help our kids adjust to their new home.

    You know what…those little ones are going to push your buttons – they do! And who knows what you might say in back, but you are only human, and a parent.

    Also, bear in mind Christmas can be an incredibly testing time. The message kids are being fed is naughty or nice (guess what they might be feeling!).

    It’s great you are doing your thinking now, just but be prepared to adapt!

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  2. janesforever says:

    Hi Rain or Shine,
    We share your concerns about Father Christmas. In our house we mainly talk about the fab gift of Jesus coming at Christmas and this is the reason why we give each other gifts. We never set out to tell our children that Father Christmas wasn’t true we just didn’t actively say that he was. Our gifts are from us, and as you say they are because we love them and are not connected to behaviour.
    In addition for Star, telling her a story of a man in a red suit climbing into our house or her room is not safe. The stockings are down stairs.
    Love to you all x

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  3. Lucy says:

    My children are not adopted, but we don’t “do” Father Christmas for all the reasons you mention. Just be aware that even if you downplay it, they will receive constant barrage of pro-Santa info from school/nursery/media. We tell our kids that FC is a great part of our imagination – it’s fun to have an imagination, so we can enjoy seeing “pretend” FC in shops etc, but it’s different to reality. We also make sure they realise other children don’t yet know about the fun of this imagination – so don’t tell them (same for tooth fairy). Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rain or Shine Blogger says:

      That’s helpful, we don’t want everyone to keep their kids away from ours in case they ruin it! But I do want them to be able to still enjoy Father Christmassy things, but the same way they will enjoy favourite film and book characters, as you say. Thanks!

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  4. ahopefuldad says:

    I adore Christmas and all the trimmings that go with it. I have no idea what our future children do and don’t believe about Father Christmas, or indeed their experience of Christmas at all. This year will be different in so many ways – reigning in my own expectations will be a big part of it.
    Great blog – so much to think about.

    Liked by 1 person

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