Christmas Traditions: Opting Out of Santa

December 25, 2023, cassieley

Smiling mother with little daughter sitting at the table with a baking sheet of raw Christmas cookies.The holiday season is filled with traditions. I fondly look back on memories of decorating the tree, building gingerbread houses, and baking cookies. I’m so grateful for my parents giving me the gift of a magical childhood. Becoming a parent myself, it is exciting to envision the special memories I hope to provide for my daughter. I will carry on some traditions from my childhood, others I may not keep, and we will also create new traditions of our own. One tradition my husband and I plan to forgo is Santa. For us, Santa will be a character- entertainment we can enjoy in movies and books- but not something we believe in.

For many families, “Santa” delivers presents to the children each year. Many parents probably haven’t thought twice about whether they would play Santa. It is a fun tradition for them, and it is their turn to play the part of their kids. It is not simply a part of their family culture but connects them to the larger cultural tradition. Most people view Santa as totally harmless fun. However, in recent years, more parents have questioned whether it is the right choice for their family.

Cute little boy looking on a magical Christmas or New Year gift lying on window sill.

A common argument I hear from those who choose not to participate in Santa is that it is lying to your kids. Parents want their kids to know they can trust them and do not want to create any confusion. This is a valid reason to choose not to participate if it makes you uncomfortable, but it is not my reason. Looking back, figuring out Santa was not real was not an earth-shattering revelation that destroyed my worldview or created any distrust in my parents for me. I think there is a difference between make-believe and lying, and kids old enough to know Santa is not real are old enough to understand this difference.

As Christian parents, my husband and I hope to instill a focus on Jesus and his birth during the Christmas season. That’s not to say we cannot celebrate with gift-giving, food, and special activities – it is a happy occasion, after all! However, the main person of the season for us is Jesus, not Santa, and we desire to properly honor Jesus’s birth without any idolization of Santa. There are similar characteristics between Santa and God that could confuse a young child. For us, God is omnipresent, and Santa “sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been good or bad.” We desire to teach our daughter to live and act morally all the time because we want her to do what is right according to God, not because Santa might not bring her presents if she does something wrong. My conviction against Santa ultimately comes down to a desire to establish a moral system from our faith rather than influencing behavior with an alternate moral system.Young adult attractive beautiful caucasian woman enjoy having fun with little toddler son at outdoor skating rink

Santa is such a prominent part of the Christmas season- from getting your picture with Santa to sending him your Christmas list and to all the movies and books- that it may seem surprising or difficult to opt out of this tradition. However, our decision comes from careful thought over what is best for our family, not any intention to be a Grinch. My family may not participate in Santa, but we still want a joyful Christmas celebration. I hope you thoughtfully consider what traditions best fit your family!


Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the bloggers on this website are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of Pollywog or Linn-Benton Community College. We want to share a diversity of parenting perspectives on this platform.