My mom lost her dad in an accident a few weeks before Christmas when she was a young girl. Her dad had already picked out the presents and her mom wanted them to know that the presents (especially dolls for the girls) were from her dad, not Santa. So that year she not only lost her dad, but she also lost Santa. After that, she decided she would never do the Santa thing with her children. So growing up we never did Santa.
Because of my mom's experience I knew we would not do Santa with our children either. Julie Stiegemeyer wrote Saint Nicholas. I bought a copy and had it signed by Julie when I was pregnant with Lamb 1. We try to read it on Saint Nicholas Day each year. I like that it is short enough for even young Lambs to pay attention to the whole book.
Because we don't do Santa, but the Lambs know Saint Nicholas was a real man, we don't even talk about Santa, we only talk about St. Nick. When we moved here, the Lambs would walk into a store and talk about how many St. Nicks were out on the store shelves already at Halloween time. We went to the mall a few weeks ago and the Lambs pointed and yelled that they saw where people were having their picture taken with St. Nick. When we drive down the street they talk about how many St. Nicks they see outside on people's lawns for Christmas decorations.
Lamb 1 put his shoes out for St. Nick on Sunday night in anticipation of today. I didn't take a photo but the Lambs received chocolate coins in their shoes this morning from St. Nick.
This "solution" to Santa Claus has worked for our family. If someone would ask them if Santa Claus came to their house they would answer yes, because he came on St. Nick Day. If someone would ask them if Santa Claus was real they would answer that yes, St. Nick is real. They know that Santa Claus is the American version of St. Nick with flying reindeer and other additions. I like that I don't need to keep this a secret.
But what the Lambs look forward to is presents from Grandpa and Grandma and Great-Grandma and Aunt Hannah and stockings filled for the 12 days of Christmas by Papa and Mama. What they really look forward to is being in the Children's Program at church. We don't open any presents until after all the church services on the afternoon of Christmas Day. I like that they know people that love them give them their presents. Now, the next thing we need to work on is being able to have a conversation with either Grandma or Great-Grandma in November and December without having their Christmas wish list be part of that conversation!
Disclaimer: If you chose to do Santa with your children, I can understand the magical part of Christmas that many people have as part of childhood. It was just never part of my childhood experience so it also never became part of the Lambs experience. This post is explaining what has worked for our family, not criticizing your family if you do Santa differently. This post gave me the idea to post about Santa.