I am anti-Santa.
Yep, I’ve said it and I’m prepared for all the hate that will come my way.
I believed in Santa growing up. There were some things about him that didn’t make sense, but I chose to ignore them and keep believing. I loved the idea of Santa. Well, I loved the idea of free presents, anyway.
I believed in Santa till I was 10 (yes, I was a gullible child). When my mother finally told me he wasn’t real – and neither was the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy – I was genuinely shocked. I felt stupid. I felt betrayed. I felt sad. So there wasn’t really any magic in the world. So things don’t come for free.
I swore that I would never lie to my kids about Santa. And I haven’t.
From the time they were little, I’ve told my daughter and son that their dad and I buy presents for them at Christmas, and that Santa is just a myth. (I’ve also told my kids not to spoil it for other kids, and they’re careful not to.)
LISTEN: Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo discuss what to do when your kids begin wising up about Mr. Claus. Post continues after.
You see, I have a lot of problems with Santa.
Some children hate being forced to sit on a strange man’s lap (my younger sister would burst into tears every time my parents tried to get her to do it).
Cash-strapped families are put under extra pressure to buy expensive gifts (remember, Santa gives more toys to good kids).
And with some kids finding out the truth before others, there are always going to be awkward situations at school (I have a relative who felt humiliated when he kept insisting to his friends that Santa was real because his mum had told him so).
But my main issue is with the lie. I can understand lying to kids to avoid upsetting or scaring them, but why make up a big, fat fib like this one? Christmas is special enough without it.
My kids adore Christmas. It's their favourite time of year. They love going to see Christmas lights, they love decorating the tree, they love making cards, they love baking gingerbread, and above all, they love the presents. They don't care who leaves them under the tree for them to find on Christmas morning. (Are birthdays dull because presents come from parents rather than the Birthday Leprechaun?)
I know this is a lonely, unpopular crusade. None of my friends back me on this one. I know so many mums who love leaving reindeer footprints and writing notes from Santa and nibbling on carrots left out by innocent children. In fact, they enjoy it so much that I've started to ask myself... is this whole Santa thing more about the parents' enjoyment than the kids'?
No doubt a lot of people will think I'm being cruel to my kids, but to me, Santa is a cruel joke we play on children. I find it really sad that the most "magical" experience of childhood is a lie.
Is anyone with me in the anti-Santa crusade? What do you tell your kids about Santa?
Listen to the special Christmas episode of our podcast for imperfect parents.