Many of you know that I’d already decided to weed Santa from our Christmas traditions and celebrations. I hadn’t decided exactly how or what exactly I would do this year or if I’d make the full transition next year…well,..we did it. Here’s how:
1.) I sat down with the 4 year old and told him the story of Saint Nicholas in a very fun 4 year old kind of way. I asked him questions and answered his, and then transitioned into:
“That’s why we hang stockings and put things in the them, and the story of Santa is kinda based on him, too. It’s one of the reasons we give gifts, like Saint Nicholas did – except he gave people things they needed, and he didn’t tell anybody it was him!”
2.) I asked the 4 year old why we celebrate Christmas and what it was all about. I don’t remember his answer, but it made me laugh! I took him to the piano and showed him the nativity scene. I let him hold baby Jesus and as we cradled the little piece in our hands I told him about Christmas being the day that we celebrate Jesus’ birthday.
“But our sin, our bad things, were so bad we could never be right with God no matter what we did. So God sent his Son to do it for us. We thank God for sending his son to Earth like a little baby, so that he could grow up and teach us about God and then die on the cross to pay for all the sin, all the bad things, so that we could be right with God. We celebrate that part at Easter. We celebrate his birthday at Christmas. And what kinds of things do we have at birthday parties? Yes, friends! And family! Yes, and presents, that’s right. And cake? Should there be cake? Okay, we can do a cake then. So on Christmas morning we’ll do that then, okay? We’ll get up, we’ll put baby Jesus in the manger, we’ll have family and friends and presents and cake and we’ll celebrate Jesus’ birthday.”
3.) After that I talked to all three of them (because the girls already knew the truth) and we talked about our Christmas morning celebrations and traditions, and why we do them, and how they do or don’t help us celebrate Jesus’ birthday. I asked them if there was any reason to do Santa, to encourage Little Prince to think it was real. They couldn’t think of any reasons, and it was agreed that Santa could come or go if there the same number of presents under the tree and they wouldn’t really mind. I’ve been telling you – it’s all about the stuff, people! But that’s and entirely separate issue.
4.) We talked about the details and logistics of Christmas morning. What Christmas morning will look like this year since we’ll be at my mom’s house and we’re opening all our other presents on Christmas Eve. What Christmas morning will look like next year when we’re at our house and we open everything on Christmas morning. We agreed that very little will actually change because there will basically be the same number of gifts under the tree (there just won’t be one marked “From Santa” ) and there will be still be a stocking, they will just know that I put the things in it. Plus, since we brought the 3 Gifts of the Magi back after a two year hiatus, we’re basically trading one santa gift for THREE magi gifts – which translates to a really good deal as far as the kids are concerned. 😉
5.) Last but not least we talked about what other people might think about it, and what they might say. We thought up some reactions people might have and things to say in return. For example,
Q: “Don’t you miss the gifts from Santa?” A: “No, because we have the 3 gifts of the Magi – want to see what we got?
Q: “Don’t you miss Santa?” A: “No, not really. Christmas isn’t really about Santa anyway.”
Truly, we spent about 20 minutes on it. I wanted to get their attention but not try to hold it beyond their attention span. It went so well. Of course it helped that the girls already knew the truth. I’m not sure what the 4 year old did or did not catch, I’m not even really sure what he was expecting for Christmas morning or if he will notice or not if no one mentions Santa. I DO know that whatever we do this year, he will most likely remember to some extent next year. So we’re trailblazing, paving the way for the new traditions. And a weight is lifted off of my shoulders. I feel so relieved, the kids are still VERY excited. They’re having the time of their lives down here at my mom’s house, visiting with their new cousins and touring and sight-seeing.
I’m really looking forward to Christmas morning. Since we’re opening all the other presents on Christmas Eve, I plan on spending time with the kids before breakfast on our nativity, reading from Luke and opening the 3 Gifts of the Magi. The whole thing will be very oriented on the birth of Christ, with no distractions. And I love that. It’s almost enough to make me want to do presents on Christmas Eve EVERY year. But we shall see. ; )
And that’s how we gave Santa the pink slip. He didn’t fuss too much. ; ) The kids certainly didn’t. Oh sure, we’ll probably see him in a movie every now and then, and probably sing along with a song on occasion. But from now on we have hereby realeased “Santa” from the burden of delivering gifts to the Oliver children. And we’re good.