Picture it: The year is 1989, and the date is December 25, Christmas morning. Time? Probably before the sun was even nearing its rise for the day, but there was a 6-year-old little girl who was ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus in the only way she knew how — opening up the gifts that Santa left. One particular gift was a hope, a goal, and was written no less than 47 times on every wish list: The Barbie Dream House.
I HAD to have been good enough this year to achieve such a wonderful gift that Santa himself would see I was worth bestowing this ultimate gift in my Barbie-loving world. Sure, I had probably not picked up my room, fought with my brother, and forgot to do some homework. Santa surely had a buffer on the naughty vs. nice list. That’s what I was banking on, at least.
The morning had come, and with eyes barely open, hair probably questionable, and my brother pulling me along to get up and get to the living room AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE was happening. There it was. My real-life dream come true in the form of a Barbie Dream House. Santa had not let me down.
READ: I’m STILL a Barbie Girl
Most years, Santa came through with such detail and perfection that it was easy to believe in him and his magic. Who else would provide such a magical experience? My single mom? Hard pass as she was obviously too busy, and money was questionable to be able to give me this. Santa was the only option. And so, my belief continued until the sad day it didn’t. But did it really go away? The reindeer, the cookies and milk, the fascination and wonder… no, it didn’t.
When the knowledge of who was behind the big man in the red suit came to light, I kept the love of the illusion of such an idea — learning more about who Saint Nicholas was and why we have such a character of sorts now. The traditions, the childlike wonder, and the anticipation for one special season are all inside of me, and all still very much there.
Then I became a parent, and without question, Santa would be coming to our home. He can take all the glory, the thanks, the praise. I have never questioned or felt terrible about not getting that from my children directly. In fact, when I built their Barbie Dream House one year, as a single mother myself, I knew then that my own mother never needed the thank you either. Seeing my girls on Christmas morning was enough for me. I knew eventually that they would know. They would give their own thanks in due time. But for the first decade-ish of their lives, I have been passing up on the direct thanks and letting St. Nick himself happily take it.
It wasn’t until I was a parent though, that I ran into the parents who “don’t do Santa in their house.” When I tell you I was shocked, that is an understatement. One particular parent I know (whom I no longer converse with because of such ludicrous beliefs), said they didn’t let their kids believe in Santa because they wanted their children to know and appreciate what they had done for the kids. To quote this parent, “I want them to thank me and not an imaginary person.” Shut your candy cane-filled mouth for a minute on that one. Because to me, to be honest, that sounds like the most selfish moment in the season of giving there could be. I recall asking this mother if she had grown up believing, and she had. So, besides wondering where her trauma with Santa was, I immediately felt a lot of anger at her for not allowing her children to have the same magical experiences that most children get when celebrating Christmas.
Choosing to keep this away from children feels like a micro isolation and that they are missing out when others around them are talking about and celebrating Santa. Imagine sitting there in kindergarten, with your Santa coloring sheet and your teacher asking what you want for Christmas, and the kid next to you goes, “There’s no Santa, it’s my parents.” The feeling that would give me is worse than a lack of marshmallows in my hot chocolate. Also, I have a personal belief that these kids are the ones who ruin it for the rest of us. To be clear, the blame is really towards the selfish, Santa-hating parents. As a parent, it is our bonus feature to our tiny humans to give some magic and create dreams that can come true, some non-contingent happiness that doesn’t need a thank you or direct acknowledgment. Children are only little for such a short period in their lives, and ours as parents. I don’t want to rush a little Christmas fun in turn for “the glory of thanks,” or my kids knowing how hard we had to work to get here. My kids don’t need to validate me, or how hard I work, or what I spent on Christmas. That is not their responsibility. If you really need that from your children, you also may really need to talk to a professionally licensed therapist, because WHO HURT YOU ABOUT SANTA? Even the Grinch came around about Santa.
I said what I said.
Let your littles have the magic, work your ass off to get the dream gift if you can, do the little things. I will put that elf out for my entire life no matter how old my kids are. I want them to be annoyed that I make them take a picture in front of the house on Christmas Eve with their reindeer food and Santa Key. Moms making sh*t magical is a part of the Christmas spirit in my home, and I hope that it will be in my children’s as they get older. Don’t be a Scrooge, set out the cookies and milk, make the list, and eventually, you will get the thank you for the Barbie Dream House.