When I was a child, every year my Dad asked me and my sisters what we wanted for Christmas. "Tell me your top three favorite things," he'd say. "I'm not buying a whole bunch of stuff."
And that's when I stopped believing in Santa.
Truthfully, I don't know if I ever believed in Santa and I don't think my childhood was damaged because of it. I knew my parents worked hard and listened to us when we told them what we wanted. So when we woke up on Christmas morning and found those same items wrapped up under the tree, we were delighted that our parents were able to get us those things. No need to give credit to the fat man from the North Pole.
Now that I'm a mom, I've tried to straddle the fence. We have a "Santa-lite" house. I'm respectful of the fact that other kids live for Christmastime and believing in Santa is a big deal to them. I would hate for my kids to be the ones spilling the beans that it's really their parents who are stashing presents around the house.
My kids don't necessarily believe in Santa or don't believe in jolly ol' St. Nick—we just don't discuss it. I ask them what they want for Christmas and for the most part, that's what ends up under the tree. No muss, no fuss.
They do know that some presents are from their grandparents and extended family members, but they don't make a big deal over it. I try to keep the spirit of the holiday focused on its true purpose, Jesus' birthday and all that represents. Each year, we go to our kids' Christmas concerts and since they go to private schools, they sing true gospel songs and it makes me tear up. It's truly beautiful.
We haven't even made the trek to the mall for a "Picture with Santa" session, although I've been tempted to do it at least once just to have the memory. But have you seen how much the photos cost? That's a lot of money to spend on something that neither I nor the kids believe in.
Re-reading what I've just wrote, it kind of makes me seem like a Grinch. And truly I'm not. I just have a laser-focus on the things I deem most important during the holiday season—quality time with friends and family, great food, awesome conversations and reflections on our blessings.
So tell me, do your kids believe in Santa? Why, or why not?
Tara Pringle Jefferson is the founder of TheYoungMommyLife.com and the author of Make It Happen: The Young Mommy Guide To Creating The Career You Crave. Follow her on Twitter or check out her blog for her insights on what it means to be a mom, wife, student, writer, and about three other labels she’s too tired to remember.