Race, Ethnicity & CultureReligionTraditions & Celebrations

A Wolf In Santa’s Clothing

Some people seem to be able to just create family traditions with a snap of the fingers. Unique weddings with special vows and that kind of thing. For me, traditions are arbitrary accidents of your birth… so it seems I shouldn’t value one over the other. But I do. Whenever I tried to tinker with wedding vows or whatnot, I felt silly. I felt like I was turning the item over onto its belly and exposing the lie for what it was. It didn’t feel genuine to me.

And that is where I kind of get stuck on Christmas. As an atheist, obviously, I’m not celebrating Jesus. And of course, I’m not really thrilled with St. Nick’s incarnations, either. I’d rather celebrate something like the solstices, instead, even if just about everything else was the same. But, it just won’t work out. I mean, there is the spouse to think of. And family. Especially out of town family. No, no, dropping Christmas and the timing of Christmas (along with pretty much any other Holiday you can think of) is pretty much out of the question. And not really worth it, is it? I mean, I feel things like natural occurrences make far more sense to mark a celebration on in principle, but it’s going to come down to just about the same thing. And if it’s not perpetuating Christianity, it’d just be perpetuating some pagan religion…

And you know, it’s culture, right? Surely a common cultural bond is something to celebrate.

I haven’t figured out what to do about the whole Santa issue, yet. My son is turning 3, but I don’t know that he really “gets” Santa, yet. He doesn’t have much interest in the Christmas cartoons. But how we approach it this year on will be the determining factor. Obviously, if we pooh-pooh Santa at this point, or seem disinterested, or otherwise not genuine he will catch on pretty quick that Santa isn’t a real thing. I feel like I don’t want to lie when he outright asks, but my spouse and I have yet to agree. We are both somewhat floundering on this point.

Some parents would simply make up a tradition on the spot, and would fall into that role immediately. I am so envious of that.

I think that, ultimately, how you feel is how you’ll act. It will come naturally. If the kid asks and you don’t feel right about lying, don’t lie. I read once an essay* that someone told their kid that Santa was someone everyone pretended to believe in. That way they got their cake and ate it, too. I think that is how I will handle it when asked. It’s the truth.

*I’m so sorry I cannot remember the name of the essay or its author. I finally found my copy of the book “Parenting Beyond Belief“, which I was sure it had come from, but I cannot find what I remember reading. It may have some other source.

J.G. Hovey

Just another person out there in the world. Follow the author's other endeavors at: A Parent With Glass, and ALTsapiens, and G+.

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  1. there seems to have been a lot of agonising about Santa on this blog over the last day or so, why is it so difficult. We simply never pretended that it was real, Santa was just a game that people played at Christmas and we joined in. Now with my kids all grown up and wanting reject the Christian thing and to somehow create our own thing you are right that it is very difficult, my older daughter went through a bit if a pagan thing and wanted to celebrate Saturnalia but that was just as fake to me. Based on how we spend our time we thought we should just call it ‘telly and peppermint cream day’:-)

    1. I think part of the problem is, depending on where you live, just being Atheist can make your kids stand out enough. Some people don’t want to see there kids alienated or shunned if they go to school and say Santa isn’t real.

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