ControverSunday: Christmas

Here’s another ControverSunday post. What’s ControverSunday?

ControverSunday is a collaborative blog meme, whereby the goal is to share, discuss and hear out different perspectives on parenting, society and other stuff that matters. All those who participate bring to the table a unique perspective and approach others with mutual respect. Participating is a way to build community, to learn something and to reflect and evaluate our own choices.

Currently, ControverSunday is once a month. If you’d like to play along, check out Kathleen‘s blog – she’s the current host and will post the topic. Add your name in the comments to the topic-announcing post, and then write about the topic. Schedule your post to publish early in the day on the Sunday it’s due, and voila -you’re in. Back story and additional stuff:  Our Lady of Perpetual Breadcrumbs is the founder,  and here is the badge courtesy of Accidents:

It's got a badge and stuff. That makes it official.

Okay, got all that? Let’s begin.

How timely that the topic this month is CHRISTMAS! Oh Christmas.

First: I’m an atheist, so Christmas for me is not Christ’s birthday. It is a winter celebration of togetherness and peace and giving and yadda yadda. So, keep that in mind about this whole post.

I posted the other day that the older I get the more I like Christmas. The part I like is the part about how nice it is to cuddle up with my family, share in some delicious snacks and beverages, and stare happily at the pretty tree I decorated. I like hunting and crafting that perfect gift and I love seeing friends. I actually kind of enjoy Christmas cards, too – both the making part and the filling out and sending part (the getting part is pretty neat, too).

I do not like these things about Christmas: the chaotic mall, and the hour long search for parking, and the pushy people and the lineups and the BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY. A number of years ago, I resolved to not step foot in a mall past December 1st and I’d say I’ve been about 95% successful. I do my shopping as early as I can ( I start in June!) and I make a point of booking time for pedicures or massages during the busy season. I enjoy making homemade gifts.

I dislike the lists of gifts one *wants* rather than the lists of gifts one gives. I dislike the connection of Santa to want. I despise the way children are taught to believe that SANTA is the bringing of all materials things that are good. I abhor the fact that a child is marked as different or “refreshingly sweet” if they request things like “world peace” or “happiness” rather than Super Happy Fun Doll or Auto Transform Crazy Bots.

I wrote briefly about my hate on for Santa in 2008 and while ruminating on this ControverSunday topic, I had a re-read. Here’s a choice nugget:

As much as my critical thinking and skeptical side would like to inform Kale right from Christmas #1 that Santa is just an “idea”, perpetuated by everyone because wink wink nudge nudge it’s about the spirit of Christmas and let’s just keep this between us, okay? I realize that its going to be very, very difficult to carry this out, never mind the fact that I have already been informed that it would be a complete “shame” if I “ruined” Christmas for Kale so early. Because being honest about make-believe fat men who break into your house, well… I guess that makes me the most horrible parent in the world.

I need to clarify here that I don’t have some bad Christmas experience background that fuels this Santa Hate. My mom and dad gave me a fantastic childhood full of happy Christmases and great times. A lot of my Christmases were spent seeing both my mom and step dad, and my dad and step mom, and I remember many trips in the car up and down Vancouver Island to see various relatives. I think growing up in the 70s and 80s meant there was less commercialism that there is now (or at least I was shielded from it to a degree) – and at our house handmade presents were loved and well received. Ross too has great Christmas memories – in fact, he remembers his Dad used to call his cousins and pretend to be Santa and blow their minds with his insider knowledge.

And although I still have a hate/hate relationship with so many parts that make up this modern-day Christmas, I’m a little less caustic in my approach to Christmas and Santa now that we are entering the third Christmas in Kale’s little life. I still reject the whole idea that Santa=presents, but here’s the thing: my co-parent, who I love, respect, and cherish, wants Santa to be a part of our family’s Christmas Spirit. I’m not about to carte-blanche say “hells no” because parenting together means compromise. (Side commentary: there is nothing more enlightening that making the decision to have children with your partner and then learning about all the different approaches, opinions, and ideas you have that you were completely unaware of. Just sayin’.)

So here’s how we’re going to approach Christmas: Kale will always be taught that Christmas is a happy time, that it’s a way to celebrate winter and a good reason to see loved ones, give things from our heart (both material things and things like hugs and love), and bring happiness to others. We will encourage charity and doing nice things for other people because the doing makes you feel good. Christmas at our house *will* include a present from Santa – a single one, and certainly not the most sought after one as that honour should be reserved for Mommy and Daddy. Kale will be free to believe in Santa and when he starts to question it, we’ll respond with open ended questions like “Well, what do you think?” and nudge him to think critically about what the reality is versus what the myth is. And when he wraps his mind around it, and decides that Santa couldn’t possibly be real, we will congratulate him on figuring it out and encourage him to find ways to develop his own sense of “Christmas Spirit” so that he too is free to choose where he’s going to take Christmases when he’s a spouse/father/adult.

11 years ago


  1. “I despise the way children are taught to believe that SANTA is the bringing of all materials things that are good.” Totally.

    I love the spirit and the magic and the wonder of Santa… but not the stuff. So yeah totally.

  2. You know, I both love and loathe the lists. Growing up, never, ever, ever would a list have been ok. But then we all got older, and my mom of all people, started demanding it. She’s the only family member we do it with, and it totally takes the stress out of shopping…but also the fun out of finding the PERFECT gift for someone else.

  3. Absolutely agree with you. We give only one Santa gift too. And emphasize that Santa is for the kids – I always wonder when Santa bring multiple gifts to everyone in the household.

    Yeah, the list thing. I have a friend who receives lists from nieces and nephews in the fall each year. She goes out of her way to avoid every item on the list. This gives me a chuckle.

  4. I was going to say that Christmas is probably easier as an atheist–you know where you stand, so no need to figure that part out–but now I’m thinking it’s probably harder. For us, when we were thinking about forgoing Santa, the worst we heard from family is that we’re too “modern.” But that’s easier to take than hearing a whole belief system is wrong/bad for your kid (which I’m kind of assuming is how people would react, but maybe/hopefully I’m wrong).

  5. I wonder the opposite… if being a more orthodox practicing religious person would make it simpler, because you could just shut all the other stuff down in favour of worshipping.

Comments are closed.