E17: Why Steph Hates Santa
When it comes to good old Santa Claus, are you on Steph’s side (Santa is a lie) or Beth's side (Santa is a metaphor)?
Questions for Reflection
Each episode we offer you a few prompts to think about how that day's conversation applies to you. You might pause the podcast and answer them right then and there, but if you keep a journal (Steph and Beth both do), you might find one of these PDFs useful. Choose the orientation that fits best in your journal.
Welcome to the Discovering Our Scars Podcast.
Where we have honest conversations about things that make us different.
Our mission is to talk about things you might relate to, but that you don't hear being discussed in other places.
Our hope is that you're encouraged to have honest conversations with the people in your own life. I'm Steph.
And I'm Beth, and today we're going to talk about why my friend Steph hates Santa, as in Santa the Claus.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. That's a little harsh, Beth. I strongly dislike the concept of the person of Santa, but not the idea of giving and sharing and those kinds of things. I don't have a problem with that, but that was too long for a title, so we had to go with the really strong word of hate, but I do want to say I don't really hate anybody. I just strongly dislike, but for a podcast title, hate works.
Right. “Steph Strongly Dislikes Santa“ just doesn't have the same kind of ring to it.
And I got to say, this has been a big passion of mine to kind of bash on Santa for a long time, and that sounds really harsh. I just realized that. I might edit that out, but we'll get into what we mean by that. I don't hate Christmas or those kinds of things. I think Christmas is a great time to be with family and friends and just loved ones and it's just a special time of the year. So I very much agree with that and I'm looking forward to it every single year, that fun time of year, and it also gets kind of cold in Florida and that's amazing. One year it snowed and my life changed. I loved it.
So one of the things that I love to do with my family at Christmas is to watch movies about this person called Santa Claus. Do you like to watch those movies?
I do watch them. I like The Santa Clause, the movie, right?
With Tim Allen.
Tim Allen, yes. I do like that movie. Yeah, there's a couple. My mom, her favorite Christmas movie. Can you guess?
Well, let's see. Her favorite Christmas movie? The Christmas Story?
Is that anyone's favorite movie?
Oh, it's mine.
Oh, that's so cute. No, that's not her favorite.
It's one of my favorites.
Okay, okay. No. The only thing I know about the movie is they used to play it on TBS like 24 hours a day.
Yeah, that's what I remember about that movie.
The leg lamp.
Yes. Yeah. I've seen it because it was on a lot and there's only so many channels back in the day. Her favorite movie is Elf.
She loves Elf.
Yeah. That is a great movie. Yeah. “That's Santa Claus. I know him!”
Yes. She says that a lot, actually. I don't know what my favorite Christmas movie is actually. I like Love Actually. That's a Christmas movie and I really like The Holiday, I think it's called.
Love Actually is a Christmas movie?
I know. And I said that, and I like it.
I know. I'm just looking at that because I don't-
I'll have to watch that one again.
It could be like an anytime a year, but there's a big Christmas thing. I also feel like Harry Potter movies are Christmas movies even though they're not. The first couple, there's big Christmas scenes in them. So I really like those. I usually rewatch the whole trilogy around Christmas time.
National Lampoon's Christmas?
Never seen it.
I don't think so.
Oh, we are making a date right now to watch that movie together.
And we'll do the podcast through it and we'll just narrate it. You'll be like, "Do you like that part?"
We'll live tweet it. It's so funny. They catch the Christmas tree on fire. I don't want to give it all away. It's so good.
I've never seen any of the National Lampoon's.
The neighbor ... I mean, the cousins come with their RV. You know how in an RV you have gray water and black water, right? They dump the black water down the sewer right in the front of the house.
Oh yeah. Oh, it might stress you out a little bit. It's okay. It's really good. So we just named a whole bunch of Christmas movies.
And not one of them has anything to do with actual Christmas, which is the birth of Jesus. So I don't know if that says something about us or if it says something about culture or something about availability of films.
Well, yeah. Is there a Christmas movie about the actual meaning of Christmas? I can't think of any that actually-
There are a couple, but they're definitely like designed for Sunday school, like old school Sunday school. They would not be widely released. So, you don't hate Christmas?
No. I like Christmas.
You're not a monster?
No, I'm not a monster. When we find our quote for-
We'll be the judge of that, Steph.
Okay. Okay, Beth.
I recently revealed in a podcast episode that I am not a pet person and that makes me feel like a monster. So if you hating Santa Claus makes you feel like a monster, then so be it.
That'd be a good caller question. Who is more of a monster? Steph or Beth? Pets versus Santa.
What do you love about Christmas? What's your favorite thing about Christmas?
There's a different feeling around Christmas. Things are different. It kind of gets you out of your everyday life and you do things that you wouldn't normally do. And I guess that's what I like is just kind of a break from the normalcy, being able to spend extra time with family and friends and just kind of get out of the box. It's nice and it's cool and it's cool outside. It's probably the only time I really decorate my house is for Christmas time because it's just, I like to decorate for a winter. That's the look I go for more than red and green and Santas everywhere. I like just decorating for winter because it just is kind of fun, and I love snow so that's my favorite time of year is this time of year.
Yeah. I think one of the things that you're sort of getting at there about how it's a break from our normal routine is even work slows down and that's true, unless you work in retail I guess.
Yeah. Outside of retail, work does slow down and families sort of turn more inward.
Well, I will say when I worked for retail, I worked for Apple at an Apple store in Orlando and it got way busier. But even so, it still was like, I worked in a really nice mall, The Mall at Millennia, and they were all decorated for Christmas. And even that, even though I was even more busy because it was like people are buying, buying, buying for presents, that still was a fun time of year, walking around the mall and seeing just the decorations and seeing just more people and even that I enjoyed. And then I worked at Disney and they decorate for Christmas super nice. It's a fun feeling and seeing people, like the hustle and bustle.
I think there's obviously some negatives to it because people sometimes get more stressed and it doesn't make them excited. It just makes them stressed. And I know I used to kind of be like that where I felt like, "Oh, I have to give everyone gifts. I have to do this and this," and then it became more of a stressful time of year. And I finally was like, "You know what? If I want to give someone a gift, I'm going to give them a gift. If they give me a gift, I'm not going to feel like I have to give them something. I am going to give them something if I want to." And I just kind of turned that around and was like, "This is going to come from a place because I want to, not because I have to." And so I feel a lot less stressed around this time of year.
And then in your family, the adults actually trade names or something, right?
So you're not buying for everybody.
Yeah. So we pick names between me and my mom, my dad, brother and sister-in-law, we pick names out of a hat. And that's my favorite thing is to try to figure out who everyone has. You'd think out of five people it'd be really easy, but most years I don't get it right. Last year I did because my dad asked me what his person wanted and then I knew who I wanted. My mom asked me who her person wanted so I knew who everyone had. It was pretty great.
The super sleuth is at work.
But actually, we call that Secret Santa and that goes to, really the heart of Santa in my mind is giving and is knowing a person and knowing what they'll like and giving that to them or spending time with that person, really knowing a person. And to me that's the concept of Santa is that giving spirit and giving of time, gifts, all those kinds of things. I don't think it always has to be a gift.
But the thing that really boils down to my really dislike of Santa is looking at Santa as a person. I feel like kids are told from a very young age about Santa as if he is a real life person. And then at some age, they either discover there's no Santa or they are told there's no Santa. And the thing that really just kind of bothers me about it is, in my opinion, it's a lie. We're lying to kids from a very young age that there is a Santa. We're telling them that there is Santa. He's coming to your house. And then at some point we tell them, "Oh no, it was just all fun." But it was a lie. And we're telling kids that it's okay to lie by this little fib that we're all telling them. By all, society as a whole is kind of adopting this lie that we're telling kids. And that's the thing that really bothers me.
And it could just be me. I could just be that one person that's like ... People are probably listening and be like, "Get over it, okay?" because I've been told that many times when I tell people my story. They're like, "Yeah, it's just, it's fine, it's fine." For me it was important to know what's right and what's wrong. And I was taught as a kid that lying is wrong. But then as I get older I find out, "Well, Santa is not real. We told you he was real, but he's not. And it's just all fun and games." But then in my mind I'm like, "But that's a lie and that's wrong. So what makes this lie okay and other lies wrong?" And it just was hard for my simple kid brain to understand. I couldn't understand why it was okay to lie about something but not lie about other things. And it just kind of diluted what is okay to lie about, what's not okay to lie about. And so to me, telling kids that there's a Santa has always bothered me because it's a lie.
So Santa as a metaphor for giving and generosity, that's okay. But when we say, "There is Mr. Santa Claus and he is married to Mrs. Santa Claus and they live in the North Pole and this is what their house looks like. And oh, by the way, they have this whole family of elves that work in the workshop, that build the toys, that wrap the presents," that's where it goes too far for you.
And that's a fun story. And that's why I liked the movie, The Santa Clause. It's a fun story to watch and to imagine, but telling kids that that is real feels wrong to me. That's just my opinion. I'm curious, Beth, what is your opinion? Are you on my side? Are you like, "Steph, move on."
I'm more on the, "Steph, move on," side of things.
I like that it is an imaginary play so many people in the culture participate in. I think that that makes it really fun. And so although I hear you that it's a lie, it doesn't feel to me like a lie because it's not done with malicious intent.
But isn't part of imaginary play knowing that you're playing? Kids don't know when you're telling them that there's a Santa that you're playing and you're imagining something.
Well, eventually, they know.
Isn't that the whole point, though? That from the very beginning you're playing, but they're not playing. They're thinking this is hard fact. And then they get older and they find out that you were playing ... I'll use your words ... this whole time.
You'll use my words with air quotes.
Sorry, you can't see that.
But this is a podcast and no one can-
I air quoted.
... see them.
I air quoted. I put that out there. So how did you feel when you were an adult and you found out that all of this was play? I air quoted again, just so you know. Beth was laughing.
I'm laughing because I found out a little bit before adulthood.
You were like, "When you were an adult and you found out."
You weren't 18 when you found out? Oh my gosh. Was I too late?
So I was five when I figured it out.
You blossomed earlier. Okay.
And I remember it was the year that I got a pink Huffy bicycle and I was so excited that Santa Claus brought me a bicycle. But I knew from the gift tag that it was my mom's handwriting. So I knew that my mom and dad had given me the bike, but that I think I just also understood we're all imagining that this was Santa and that that's okay.
So you knew there was no Santa, but you didn't tell your parents that you knew there was no Santa.
Right. I don't ever remember having that conversation with them.
They were lying to you that there's a Santa and you were lying to them, a lie of omission not telling them that you knew there was not a Santa. So there was like this-
It doesn't feel like lies to me.
They knew something. You knew something and you're both keeping it from each other.
Right. Well, I also didn't go to them and say like, "Hey, I know how babies are born."
Did you know at five?
No, I didn't know at five, but I knew pretty early.
Five and a half.
We had a neighbor who had a book. I probably learned earlier than my parents wanted me to, but that wasn't a lie of omission either. It was just like, I didn't go to them and say, "Oh, today, I learned how to multiply." Just because I learned something doesn't mean I'm going to go to my parents and tell them that I've learned it.
I guess for me is from a young age, we're told we need to talk to our parents and have open lines of communication. But then there's this thing. There's this thing that they know that this isn't real and then you know it's not real, but then you're both not telling each other. So I guess in my mind that can translate to worse things. Obviously the Santa thing is very surface level and as you're saying, it's like it's no big deal. But for me, having a history of childhood abuse, I look at it as, "Well, is it that this Santa thing that I was so confused about for so long" ... because actually, no one told me. My parents didn't tell me there was no Santa. My brother told me and I was very confused. I was like, "Well, then why are my parents still saying there's a Santa? Why are you telling me there's not?" And I was very confused.
I don't remember when I asked my parents or if I ever did, but that makes me think, from this young age when I'm very impressionable, I have this confusing thing about Santa, which is very surface level and very like, no big deal. But then I was a child that had been abused and I never shared that with my parents. And I don't know why I didn't. I know I pushed down and try not to think about it and now years I've dealt with it, but because my parents told me there's a Santa and then I hear there's no Santa, did that confusion lead to me not wanting to share about the abuse because I was confused at lies and truth and what that looked like? And so I guess maybe that's where my really disdain of this whole Santa thing comes from is because I feel like it's very confusing for impressionable children.
We're learning at a very young age where we're still learning how things work and how to understand life. And if we're talking about 12 year olds that we're telling them there's no Santa, they have a whole different brain that can figure things out in different ways. But because from baby or thing, the Santa thing, it just, to me it feels very damaging. And it was a harsh reality for me when I found this out. I don't even remember the ages and things like that. I just remember being just very ... well, just feeling lied to and feeling like I was ... and almost like people were laughing at me like, "Haha, we know this thing but we're not going to tell you and we're going to play this game." And to me it didn't feel like a game. It just felt like it was very confusing and not a nice thing to do to a child.
So I do remember that at some point, my mom said ... She invited me in on it. She said, "Hey, do you want to help me play Santa for our family?" And so I guess at that point we did have a conversation about it and I was invited into the fun. So it never felt harmful or hurtful. And I have done that now with my own kids. Everyone in my household this Christmas will be old enough to know. They're all aware that Santa is really a metaphor. We still will have gifts from Santa. Santa has never brought any of the good stuff, right, because I want all the credit for that. I do-
And I think that's great. I think it's important for your kids to see that you care about them so much that you're finding things that they will really like and enjoy, but then you slap on the Santa name and it's like, "Okay, well"-
You get no credit for it.
Right. Yeah. I always wanted the credit.
So Santa has never brought them the best things, like when they got their first iPods. So when they got their first iPods, that was not a gift from Santa. That was from mom and dad. Did not want Santa Claus to get credit for that, which maybe also kind of lessened the blow for them some when they did realize that it was really a metaphor. I'm going to have to think about that some more, whether or not we build it up by giving Santa credit for the best presents, if that maybe makes it more harmful. I mean, on some level it is sort of weird that we say to kids, "Never ever talk to a stranger," and then we take them to the mall at Christmas and we say, "Okay, here's this strange man who's been watching you while you've been sleeping and we want you to sit on his lap and we want you to tell him your secret wishes about what you want for Christmas. And then, oh, by the way, smile for the camera." If you look at it that way, it does sound sort of weird. I'll give you that.
Are you on my side now? Are you on my side?
No, I still love the metaphor and the myth of Santa, but I hear where you're coming from. I hear where you're coming from. I really do.
I mean, I remember being a young child trying to literally figure out how it worked. And I finally came to the conclusion that there were no elves, that was not real, but every store would put things out in front of their store doors on Christmas, all their toys, and Santa would just come and scoop them up and bring them to the kids that wanted those toys, because my toys were from Target and stores. I was like, "Elves didn't make these. Target made them. That's not possible." So that's how I finally justified it. And obviously that was wrong, I found out, just two minutes ago.
So I wonder if when you made that decision, you decided that this did not work through the elves, I wonder if in some part of your mind you were like, "My parents might think that it's elves, but I have got this figured out and I know that it is not the elves."
Well, also though, what I could never figure out is why some kids got more stuff from Santa and some didn't. That did not make sense to me. If Santa is just all knowing and knows what we all want, why don't all kids get the same thing? And then some kids don't get anything. That never made sense to me and was always a very confusing concept for me.
I think that's another part of The Polar Express movie that has always bothered me because part of the premise of that movie is, "Oh, these kids have experienced multiple Christmases where they haven't gotten anything, but now they're going to get to go meet Santa in the North Pole," and I'm like, "Why has he been missing their houses all these years? What is wrong with him?"
Yeah, yeah, especially since the premise of that movie is Santa is real. Why is he never going to them? Yeah.
It's really troubling.
You can see my five year old brain very confused.
I recently finished a round of classes at the church where I serve where I was teaching mainly third graders, this class that we call Bible Basics, and one of the third graders did ask me where Santa Claus was in the Bible. So I think that there is this level of confusion about there being this male figure, because I think a lot of times in church God is presented as a male figure. I think that's the traditional presentation, and so there's this male figure who can see you when you're sleeping, knows if you've been naughty or nice, cares about whether or not you're nice and is going to potentially reward you if you are nice. I think that there are connections made in developing minds between Santa Claus and God that are not healthy. At some point when my kids were toddlers and a more experienced mom saying that her kids had been through that and had come to her and said, "Well, wait, wait, wait, if Santa Claus isn't real, does that mean that God's not real either?"
That's a big struggle I have as well is from the same age, you're talking about Santa and you're talking about Jesus, God, all of that. And then at some point you say, "Well, Santa was fun, but Jesus is real." How is that when you are saying the same thing from the very beginning? How is Jesus real, but Santa is not? It just doesn't make sense to me how a brain can easily figure that out. Maybe my brain just can't and everyone else's can.
Well, I think you've figured it out now.
But it took a lot and I think it would have been a lot easier if it was just explained with truth. Santa is fun and pretend and there's going to be some fun movies about it and you can enjoy those movies, but he's not a real person. But giving and caring about people is real and we can be Santas to other people. We can bring them things, we can give them things, we can spend time with them. I think the idea that any of us can be Santa is a more healthy view of this time of year.
But also, this is kind of like, another thing that kind of bothers me about Christmas is it's all about Santa, which is such a, not what Christmas means. It's like we're talking this whole thing about Santa and the true heart of Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ. And I can tell you, that was not a big forefront in my years growing up. Even now, that's not like a big part of Christmas. I know there's some people that sometimes have a birthday party for Jesus, which I think is a cute idea. I've never done it, but I think it's a cute idea because that's really what this time of year is about.
My friend Charlene, who's called in a couple of times, who lives in Tennessee now, her dad, oh my, what a wonderful man. Wonderful. Mr. Bill. What a wonderful man! He used to make a birthday cake for Jesus at Christmas and I had never really heard of that until she and I became friends and that has stuck with me. I have that memory of being in her house and seeing the cake that Bill had made for Jesus. It's a precious memory. We have so many other baked goods. We have pie and we have cookies, which is a whole ‘nother thing about Christmas.
As a pastor, you'll probably know this. What would be Jesus' favorite dessert for his birthday?
This year for Christmas, for his birthday, Jesus would like a red velvet cake with cream cheese icing. And if you put something on it about, "Share a piece with Beth," I feel like that might be right. Yeah.
So that's what you learned in your years of schooling. Okay, guys, you heard it here. Pastor Beth said that Jesus loves red velvet cake.
Red velvet cake. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
And save a piece for Beth.
It's the holiest ... Well, it's really the cream cheese icing. It's really about the cream cheese icing.
I thought the holiest of desserts was donuts.
Or angel food cake.
Angel food cake. We might cut this part out.
So Santa as a metaphor for sharing and giving and generosity does to me accurately represent the message of Jesus, that I think God is about sharing and giving and generosity and that's the reason for the birth of Jesus, that that's the reason for the incarnation. And so I think that there is a meaningful connection there. I mean, sometimes I have said we celebrate that the Wiseman brought gold and frankincense and myrrh, so our gift giving is meant to replicate that in some way or to be a nod to that in some way. Theologically, there are some hiccups with that, including the fact that those gifts didn't come while he was a baby. But I think that's the spirit of it.
I think, though, that even makes the story more confusing, though. I agree. I think Santa represents things that are very much in line with Jesus. But again, then you're putting those two things so closely related and then seven or whatever age you find out there's no Santa, then you have to separate those and this one's not real, but this one is with really no explanation of why this one's real and this one's not. Why is this real and this isn't? How would you tell me as an eight year old that found out there's no Santa that Jesus is real? Why is this one real but this one's not?
Well, we know that Jesus is an actual historical figure. We have good records on that and we have this church that has been around for 2000 years trying to live out the truth of his ministry and what it means that he was born and that he lived and that he ministered and that he healed people and that he died and that he was resurrected. We also know that at some point, there was a man named Nicholas who was very generous with children and that from that came the story of Santa Claus. So we have one who has always been presented as real. Jesus has always been presented as real and Santa Claus has always been presented as the embodiment of this idea that was exemplified by Saint Nicholas.
I question that's been presented, because I feel like he's presented as real and he's coming to your house to bring you gifts. Parents may not say Santa is real, but they do say he's coming to your house to bring you gifts and you write him a letter and he eats your cookies.
And then there's no cookies left. I mean, what is someone supposed to think?
When I was little I left Santa cookies and beer.
Well, there you go. Did he always drink the beer?
I don't think my dad liked milk.
Oh my gosh.
I don't actually remember ever paying any attention to that plate of cookies or the glass in the morning when I woke up. It was all about the presents, right? I just made a beeline for it. I didn't really need evidence of whether or not he had been there. I guess the only evidence I needed was gifts. I hear what you're saying that we've presented to kids as if it's real, but-
Also, if I leave out cookies for Jesus, they're not going to be gone.
What kind of cookies are you going to leave, and do I have a key to your house? Because I could arrange for them to be gone.
All I'm saying is think about that. You leave out cookies for Jesus and you leave out cookies for Santa, the Santa ones are gone and then when I'm of age, you tell me Santa is not real, the one that ate my cookies, but Jesus, the one that left them, preferred red velvet cake.
Jesus is all about feeding you. Jesus isn't about eating your cookies.
What if I left him a ham?
A hearty, good protein.
Oh, Jesus was Jewish. Don't leave him a ham. That's not kosher. I think that the idea of the imagination and the community imagination, the widespread imagination is a positive thing.
. I like the idea of the imagination. I like the idea of giving and that kind of thing, the Santa idea, but how would it be different if from a young age, we tell kids Santa is this not real thing, that he brings us gifts when we're good, we tell the story, but as a, "It's not a real person, but I'm your Santa"? The parent says, "I'm your Santa. I'll be watching you and I'll know" ... I don't even love that whole, "I'm watching you," good or bad thing, but, "And I'm going to bring you gifts. I'm going to be our Santa." How would that be different? Why does it have to be that he is real and he's coming to your house?
I don't know. Even the way that you said that is much more aggressive than the way I would talk about Santa. No. It's this lighthearted fun thing like, "Oh."
But wouldn't it be even more fun if we just talk about the concept of Santa and not him being a real living, breathing person that comes to every single person's house, and then we showed The Santa Clause, the movie, how it's fun and look, it's imaginative and pretend and so fun?
Well, don't we sort of do that? I mean, every movie presents Santa a little differently. It's not like they're all on the same page.
But yet we're still telling kids that he's real and coming to your house. You know how I know for the longest time I thought he was real? Because when we were maybe six ... I was six, my brother was three years older, my mom was like, "Oh, I'm going to get them good," she put a piece of red and white felt in our fireplace. So Santa, he must've gotten caught on something in our fireplace and some of his suit came off, and oh my gosh, probably at least four extra years I was believing in Santa. That was a good one if you want your kids to think Santa's real. But see, my parents were continuing that whole thing, and no hate to my mom. Don't give my mom hate for this. She feels bad enough that my whole Santa thing, although that was a really good one. She was really on that one.
She was having fun with it. She was using her imagination and she was building your imagination and you were participating in this wider act of imagination. And I think that that's good. So let me tell you some of the lengths that I as a mom have gone to to participate in the imaginary idea of Santa and to perpetuate that idea. So because I figured out at five that it was my mom's handwriting, I have always printed labels that say, "To so-and-so from Santa." I label everything. So in our house, Santa brings the stockings and then usually one gift for each kid. But every adult even gets a stocking. If you're in our house on Christmas morning, you get a stocking full of goodies. And so you will have all the gifts in your stocking will be wrapped in the same paper because that's the Santa paper, which some years is really challenging and then you will have your own label, "To so-and-so from Santa."
So as my kids got older, that was one of the things they they held onto. They were like, "No, Santa even has printed labels. Clearly he's real," right? And I don't remember how my oldest figured it out, but my daughter had gotten to an age where I was like, "It's really time for her to know. It's really time for her to be in on this," because I didn't want her to be embarrassed or resentful. And so then I did have to pull her aside and say like, "Hey, by the way, just so you know, this is imaginary and this is how we participate in it." And then I did like my mom did for me. I was like, "Do you want to help me be Santa for our family?"
So you said that Santa brings stocking stuffers, right?
So who is the Santa in your house, gets those stocking stuffers?
I buy them for everyone except myself and my mom does mine.
Okay, I was going to ask, "So you're buying your stocking stuffers?" I was like, "That's weird."
I mean, sometimes if I'm shopping and I'm like, "Oh, I would love that in my stocking," I do pick it up. I do.
I'm getting a phone case this year in my stocking. It's really a nice one. Yeah.
What does it look like?
Yeah. This artist, her name is summer and she has a business called Sommer Letter Co and I like her stuff a lot and so I have a couple of her things. I recently got a new iPhone and I was like, "Oh yeah, I'm going to buy a pretty new case but I'm going to save it for my stocking."
Because it's perfect size for a stocking. Sometimes it's hard to find stocking-shaped stuff. I don't have anything bad to say about traditions. I have-
Just the tradition of Santa Claus.
Well, that's what I was going to say is your traditions that you've created. I think that's great. One of the traditions we have is every Christmas Eve we have pizza. We have take-out pizza, and that happened years ago. We had no food and that was the only thing available and so then we do it. Even when I worked at the church and I worked on Christmas Eve, my mom would bring pizza to me at the church. And so I mean, we have our little traditions too and I think traditions are great, things that you've created within your family and sometimes they come up in funny ways. Sometimes they're just like you've done them since you were a kid, and I think that's great. I think that's what Christmas is about is spending time together and doing fun things together and all of that. I think there's nothing wrong with that.
I mean, if you want to do Santa, I am not going to ... Hear me on that. If you like the idea of Santa and all of that and you have fun with it, go for it. I don't fault you on that. My niblings do Santa and I bite my tongue and don't say anything about who he is or is not because I respect my brother and sister-in-law. I respect them that they do the Santa stuff and that's fine.
Well, I have to say, you'd have to be a real ... I mean, you wouldn't be yourself at all. You'd have to be a real jerk to go to a niece or nephew and be like, "Oh, by the way, guess what? Oh, all the adults are lying to you every December."
It's been hard. There's been times where I've been wanting to do it. I really have, but I keep-
You better not.
I've never done it. No, I don't do it at all. They've questioned things and I don't pursue it. I let their parents be in charge. I am super respectful of all of their decisions and don't try to be like, "Oh, well, they're at my house, so I'm going to do whatever." No, I'm super respectful of their rules.
There are some things like that that just, "Oh, you got to talk to your mom and dad about that."
But I will say if I had kids, which if you've listened to all of our episodes, I probably won't have kids because it's not a desire of mine, but if I had kids, I think what I would do is I would tell them that there's this thing called Santa and tell them about Santa and that a lot of kids think that Santa comes to their house but he's not real, he's just pretend. But there's a lot of people that think he really comes to their house, and there's nothing wrong with that. That's just what they believe, and I want you to know that there's not a Santa, but we don't go telling people that. If they believe there's a Santa, then that's okay. There's nothing wrong with them. We just know that it's pretend and it's fun. It's something fun to just to know about and I'm your Santa and I will bring you some gifts on Christmas.
And actually, the thing I would prefer is I would like to give kids a gift each day instead of all the gifts on Christmas, because I remember as a kid being like at 10 on Christmas after we woke up super early, it was like, "Okay, there's nothing else to open." So I think be more fun ... I love Advent calendars because you open one little thing each day. I think that's more fun than just a ton of presents on Christmas.
Just so you know, if you have kids and you take that approach, you're going to get phone calls from the other moms in their first grade class and their second grade class, because this is a big topic of discussion among the first and second graders and the third graders, too. And if your kid is the one who was like, "Oh, my mom says she's Santa Claus. My mom says Santa is imaginary," you're going to get some phone calls.
Well, and that's probably why it's a good thing that I don't have kids or probably won't have kids. But yeah, I would be that person because I don't want to lie to my kid. In my opinion, it's a lie and I don't want to do that too them. I wouldn't want that to my kid. Just based on my experience with it is I wouldn't want my kid to have to go through that. So I would have to be that parent and I would be like, "Sorry, you all know it's a lie. Don't get mad at me. I explained it to my kid. Sorry that they're truth teller. I mean, I'm not a parent and probably won't be. So don't come for me."
Meet my friend Stephanie, the future enemy of everyone in the PTO.
Although I have said I would potentially adopt a kid, but an older kid, so I think at that point we're past the Santa stuff.
Like a condition of the adoption, "I can only adopt a child who already knows that Santa is just a metaphor.
Yeah, that would be ... I would have to put that on the sheet. Is there a sheet? I don't know.
Oh my gosh, there's the worst sheet ever. It's so terrible. I mean, it's terrible because it's hard. You have to say everything that you're okay with, everything that you're not okay with down to like, "What about a child who wears eyeglasses?" Like, wow.
What? Why? Of course, of course. He's got like three toes, things like that?
I think it's more general, like, "What if the child has suffered an amputation?" Or, "What if the child had a birth defect?" And," What if it was a physical birth defect?" And as an adoptive parent you should think about all that because ... I don't know, Steph, do you think you're the only one who feels this way about Santa? I kind of ... I mean, I maybe have met one other person, mom, who told me like, "Oh no, that's a lie and I'm not going to tell my kids that. I'm not going to tell my child that lie." And I remember thinking that was a really harsh view. So I think that I just kind of wonder, you might be out there on a little bit of an island, but maybe not.
I have no idea. I don't know that I've ever met anyone else that agrees with me. So I do need to know. That's actually a good caller question. Why don't we say, call in and let us know, are you more on my side or Beth's side when it comes to good old Santa Claus? Let us know. You can call into our voicemail number. The number is 850-270-3308, and you can call and let us know your thoughts on that. And you can also answer anything from past episodes as well.
Hey, if you have loved this honest conversation about how weird stuff is about Santa, or if you just in general love our podcast, we would really appreciate you leaving us a five star review on iTunes. It helps other people find us and also, five stars brighten our day.
Yay. The best place to leave us a review is on the Apple Podcast app. And the way you do that is just, if you are on our podcast page, scroll all the way to the bottom and there's one, two, three, four, five stars. If you click that fifth one, that's all you have to do. Literally all you have to do is push that fifth star and we get a rating. So please, if you enjoy our podcast, give us a rating.
At the end of each show, we like to end with Questions For Reflection. These are questions we've written based on today's show. Beth will read them and leave a little pause between each where you can pause the podcast and answer these questions for yourself. We also have a downloadable PDF on our website.
Number one. Does Santa feel like a lie to you or imaginative play? Number two, do you think belief in Santa as a real person can be confusing to children? Number three, how would your childhood have been different without Santa? Number four, who are you a Santa to in your life? Number five, do you think the Santa story dilutes the message of Christmas?
This has been the Discovering Our Scars podcast. Thanks for joining us. Merry Christmas.
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Mental Health Advocate. Author. Podcast Host. DIYer. Greyhound Mom.
I'm a mom who laughs a lot, mainly at myself. #UMC Pastor, recent Seminary grad, public speaker, blogger, and sometimes lawyer. Learning to #LiveLoved.