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Christmas Eve Thoughts on Santa, Fairies and the Joy of Giving

by Laura on December 24th, 2012

Christmas is almost upon us, and some may be wondering … Why do we even bother celebrating?

Getting all dressed up for a nice picture with the tree … and this is how my kids exited their room (Christmas 2011)

As I’ve said, I’m not religious. I left the Catholic Church years ago, and now that I’ve released myself of Catholic guilt, I’m not going back. So why Christmas, then?

I’ve also written about how surprised I was when I learned that my own completely (but benignly) atheist husband considers himself Eastern Orthodox. … it’s an ethnic identity thing.

So … How does one integrate religious belief with cultural identity? What about Santa Claus and the oft-repeated maxim, “Jesus is the reason for the season”?

Baby Jesus, fairies, and Santa Claus

Am I a hypocrite? Perhaps.

Is it wrong that I let my kids celebrate Christmas, without making sure they believe in God? Come to think of it, I could teach them about Jesus’ birthday. After all, Danica and Maksim do like babies!

Okay, the concept of a Baby Jesus, that’s not so tough. But, the whole ‘son of God’ thing? That’s a little more complicated to explain to an almost-five-year-old. Danica has already asked me, “What’s God, Mama?”

“Remember how some people believe that when you die, you go ‘up,’ to a place in the sky? Well, people call that heaven, and they say that God lives there.”

“Where is up, Mama?”

“Well, there is no ‘up,’ baby girl. Up is just the sky, and then space. We’ve studied space, remember?”

“Right, there’s no air in space, we can’t live there unless we have on a space suit.”

“So, people like to say heaven is up, and that’s where God is. It’s fun to believe, it’s like Tinkerbell. You like fairies …”


“Are fairies real?”


“But it’s fun to believe in fairies, right? I like Tinkerbell, she’s really cute. But is Tinkerbell real?”

“No, Tinkerbell is a cartoon.”

Ohhhh, I know some of my dear readers are cursing me right now, I’m such a godless grinch! So000 … I won’t mention our discussion that Santa is a grandpa wearing a red suit.

Family Christmas in My Home

It’s not just me who is concerned about “lying” to kids about Santa Claus. This great post about keeping the Santa magic alive asks similar questions about the merits of ambiguity when it comes to Santa. The truth is, my children’s lives are already filled with happiness, fun, and wonder. I don’t think it’s necessary that I make them believe in magic, but Danica really does want to believe. And I’m okay with that.

If Christmas isn’t about Christ for us, if it isn’t about believing in Santa Claus, and if it isn’t really even about tons of presents (I’m trying to reduce the household clutter) …

Why even bother?

December 2012

For us, Christmas is about baked goods, and lights and Christmas trees. It’s about having family and friends come over. It’s about visiting with one another and going skiing (well, for my kids and husband at least).

Danica’s new thing is after we have her friends over, she likes to send them home with some type of small gift. She does this voluntarily.

If a baby was here, then she gives away one of her stuffed animals or old baby toys. If it was a girlfriend her age, then she finds some small toy or knickknack. If one of my friends visited, my daughter sends her home with a lovely drawing or cut-out rendering of a vampire. (Yes, a vampire. Danica learned about them from friends at school. Not to worry, she also knows that vampires are not real.)

I like this re-gifting/reusing of old toys idea. It’s a great surprise for Danica’s friends, and it lets my girl experience the special pride of giving something of hers to someone else. So, for us, in addition to the lights, the tree, the skiing, …

Christmas is about the joy of giving.


From → Expat Mommy

  1. Well, have a happy festive season then! I am not very religious but I do like going to a Xmas mass, wherever I am. Go figure…

    I have given you an award on my blog.

  2. This post hits close to home! My husband and I were just asking ourselves today if we were making a mistake by not celebrating Christmas at home. Our main concern was whether we were denying the kids a chance to imagine….which is silly considering the amount of princess/fairy/barbie paraphernalia strewn across the house.

    They happily decorated the neighbor's tree and said that they didn't want one here. Which was fine with me….we aren't religious and the kids are terrified of Santa. We don't see any point in pushing the issue when it really is not important to us. Perhaps the situation will change as the kids get older.

    I love your daughter's attitude and your idea of making Christmas be about what you (and not society/religion/culture) wants it to be about. I'm definitely going to make a note of this for later!

    Thanks for the great post. It is comforting to see that we aren't in this alone :)

    • Laura permalink


      Yes, I, too struggled with "going against" the generally accepted practices and customs. And the funny part is just how commercial and secular and "halmarkized" the traditions have become in the U.S. None of that has anything to do with the birth of Christ. And so for me, picking and choosing seems okay.

      I like that your kids decorated the neighbor's tree. They get to experience something … without you having the expense and hassle of putting up a tree in your home! When I was younger, I thought it was great to celebrate Hannukah at my Jewish friends homes. I'm all for enriching our family life, … as opposed to imposing something that's stressful or merely impractical!

      Thanks for commenting!

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