05 December 2008

To Santa, or not to Santa?

BabyA is only a few months old this Christmas, so the whole Santa thing isn't too big of a worry. But I know it will be, and GeekDad and I have to figure this out. Here's the background:

I grew up in a religious family. My father was a minister with the an evangelical association, and my church associations as a teen were of the slightly radical variety. I fondly refer to it as the Church of Big Hair. As a child, we did NOT celebrate Santa. Santa was a nice symbol of Christmas, and was never portrayed as bad, he was just a secondary distraction to what Christmas was really about - the birth of Christ. We still did stockings and such, but gifts were always from Mom and Dad, never Santa. I'm not saying that Christmas wasn't magical for us, because it totally was, and still is, my favorite time of year. But Santa just wasn't a part of that.

GeekDad grew up in a household that didn't regularly attend any church, and Santa embodied all that Christmas was about - giving and receiving gifts, celebrating family, etc. Most of the presents came from Mom and various other family members, but the big gift always came from Santa. He used to listen to the radio as it tracked Santa's progress on Christmas Eve, and Christmas morning eagerly awaited, because SANTA HAD VISITED.

Now that we're a family, I'm reaching to figure out how to incorporate both of our traditions. While my faith has significantly changed in both form and function since my youth, its still an essential part of who I am, and something I very much want to pass on to my daughter. And I know GeekDad also wants to pass on the magic that Santa meant to him in his childhood. But how to do this??

One of my biggest reservations regarding the whole Santa thing is the business of finding out that Santa isn't real. While I obviously didn't experience this moment, I've heard enough stories from various friends to know that it can be really traumatic. It feels to me like I would be lying to my daughter, and I really have some reservations about this. Because as an adult I totally get the Santa-as-a-symbol thing, but there is just no explaining that to a kid who just found out that Santa isn't an actual living, breathing person.

In addition, my sister's children haven't been taught the whole Santa thing, and I know if we tell the Santa stories to BabyA, its going to make family Christmases that much more complicated. So.

I'm turning to you, interwebz. How do you deal with combining secular and religious traditions? Do you celebrate more than one faith? Any advice for a fledgling mom on Christmas, Baby Jesus, Santa, etc.?

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