Ho Ho No – 5 Reasons We Don’t Do Santa


** You can now click here to read a version of this post on The Huffington Post! There are so many ways to do Christmas and I love that no two families celebrate in exactly the same way. Whether you skip Santa completely or you go all North Pole in your home, I’d love for you to click through, like, or share this post to spread some Christmas cheer. **

The tree is trimmed. The stockings are hung. The gifts are ready. And by that, I mean the gifts are ready for me to find them at the store, buy them, hide them, wrap them, and put them under the tree at approximately 1:37 a.m. on December 25th. It’s okay. I’m good at other things.

The only thing that’s missing is a jolly old bearded guy in a red suit. And his reindeer. Oh, and that creepy elf dude.

Yes. We are one of THOSE families. We don’t do Santa at our house. I know, I know. It’s okay to go ahead and roll your eyes. We get that a lot.

It’s not like we’re marching indignantly on the North Pole, picket signs in hand, but it does come up a bit during this time of year. The reaction is generally one of disappointed surprise mixed with polite disapproval. “Oh, is that so? I didn’t realize. Well. I guess the children will find other ways to have a childhood.”

In an effort to reclaim some of our parenting points in the eyes of society (not that I was already in the running for Mother of the Year), here are some of our reasons for sacking Santa.

Santa’s unlimited resources don’t match our very limited budget.
As much as I love the idea of writing a letter listing all my dream requests to someone with the hopes of them being granted (wait–Ellen, are you Santa?), this would only set my kids up for disappointment. Because while the elves might have some back channel connections, Mama isn’t paying $250 or arm wrestling a trucker for a Hatchimal. Sorry, baby girl. Mama still loves you.

We don’t want to share credit with a cartoon.
Okay, so this one is admittedly a little selfish. But over the last decade of Christmases, we’ve worked really hard to scrape together enough money to be able to put a couple of modest gifts under the tree for the kids. It’s not much but ohmygoodness when they open those gifts and we see those huge smiles? I didn’t really want to hear, “Thank you, Santa!” I wanted some hugs.

For all my kids, but especially my literal-thinking aspie, it’s kind of creepy.
If I told my kid that there was a man out there who sees him when he’s sleeping and knows when he’s awake and knows when he’s been bad or good with the thinly veiled threat of “be good for goodness’ sake,” he wouldn’t sleep for a month. It does make Santa sound less like a jolly philanthropist and more like an unsub profiled on Criminal Minds.

It only takes one child in need to make you question the whole system.
Once upon a time in a world far away, I was a 2nd grade teacher. I will never forget the day an eight-year-old broke my heart wide open. I was on playground duty just after winter break when I spotted a student playing alone and decided to keep him company. We started chatting about his holiday and I asked him if he had a good Christmas. He looked up at me with confused eyes and said, “Santa didn’t come this year, Mrs. Pooser. I don’t know why. I tried so hard all year to be real, real good. But he didn’t come anyway.” That moment took my breath away. I just couldn’t bring myself to pass along a tradition that has the potential to make a child feel like his behavior is somehow responsible for his family not having any gifts under the tree.

Our holiday is less cluttered.
When we shifted our attention away from the material side of Christmas, we were able to focus more clearly on what we’re truly celebrating. The long-awaited Messiah, with Calvary already in mind, born to a desperate and dark world, bringing with him the light of hope, joy, peace, and love. And with the love of Jesus in our hearts, we do talk about St. Nicholas and how his spirit of kindness and generosity can live on in our Christmas traditions. We try to think of ways to spread joy to our neighbors and our community. Whether we’re able to sponsor a whole family from the Angel Tree or if we can just swing a few dollars to leave a Starbucks gift card on a stranger’s porch, there are lots of ways we can spread Christmas cheer. We’ve learned to step outside ourselves and think of others.

So even though we don’t do Santa Claus with our kids, there is still plenty of room for St. Nick in our Christmas.

15 thoughts on “Ho Ho No – 5 Reasons We Don’t Do Santa

  1. This is best explanation for not doing Santa that I have ever read or heard. I’ve heard down right nasty sermons about why not to do it…but none have been as powerful as your logical, caring, loving reasoning! Thanks for sharing…

    1. Thank you so much! I’ve never met two families who do Christmas the exact same way and I love seeing all the different holiday traditions. This way works for us! =)

  2. Love this, Ashley. We do Santa “lite” (one small gift from him, no lists or photos on his lap or Elf on the Shelf because seriously, who has the time for THAT one…) to avoid spoiling the surprise for my preschooler’s friends and classmates, but that’s it. Thank you for your thoughtful explanations – it’s making me rethink even the “lite” Santa!

    1. Thanks, Courtney! We don’t boycott all things Santa but this is just what works for us in our home. And we also have The Talk every single year about how it’s always up to moms and dads to talk to kids about Santa–NOT FRIENDS. So far, I don’t think we’ve ruined it for anyone. Gosh, I hope not! =)

    2. I’ve never heard or thought of doing Santa lite! Still not for us but what a great alternative for those who are in between decisions or even trying to transition away from the traditional Santa thing.

  3. I didn’t grow up with Santa so it was a no-brainer for me. But my husband struggled a little bit with them missing the “magic.” It’s worked well for us, with the exception of one year when, out of the blue, my middle child decided to believe in Santa (even though he had never graced our chimney). Culture is a powerful influence!

    1. Yes! My middle did something similar last year. We had to up the ante to increase the wonder of the season. A live nativity/Bethlehem recreation seriously helped restore awe and wonder. 😊

  4. Love this! I have a 23 and 27 year-old that I raised almost anti-Santa, because of the shaming from others that you talk about. I think it is a little more accepted these days. I think all of our social media connections have made the fact that not everyone teaches Santa more common knowledge. I now have a 3 year old (born 20 years after her brother) I am not so strict with her on it. She has a Santa toy someone bought her and we watch the traditional Christmas specials without me feeling guilty. She doesn’t ask about getting gifts from Santa this year, but by next year we will have some talks. I too will teach her about St. Nicholas and that spirit of giving. I think I will teach her the Santa “game” where you generously give a gift without taking any credit for yourself. And I will teach her that some parents do this for their own children….. At at least that’s the plan right now. I still have a year to figure it out. 😉

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