Why I Never Believed in Santa

“Better to do without books than to believe everything they say.” -Chinese proverb

SantaSure, I read the stories about St. Nick… and all his associated figures. One of my favorite illustrated seasonal books is The Polar Express; the pictures in it are breath-taking. However, I just couldn’t believe in its words. I was one of those kids who would cry on Santa’s lap–or at least wear a grumpy expression.

I could understand the principle of rewarding nice versus naughty behavior. But a white Santa Claus? If he was so prevalent, then where was his Chinese equivalent? (On a side note, a lot of the Western Santas depicted in China play the saxophone.)

Plus, who could actually slide down chimneys simultaneously all over the world? What about homes without fireplaces? Also, early on I recognized that “Santa’s” presents were signed with my dad’s penmanship.

What are your thoughts on Santa?

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  1. I have always told my kids that Santa was the magic of Christmas. We had heard (but not experienced for ourselves) that some were very disappointed when they found out that Santa was not as promised. To try and alleviate any disappointment, Santa only brought one gift each Christmas. When they got to the age of disappearing myths and would ask me about Santa, I would just repeat that “Santa was the magic of Christmas.”

  2. Of course the cynic in me always said that Santa was the invention of Coca-cola for an early 20th century ad campaign. While that maybe true, there is a greater Truth for the holiday season that transcends your belief in any Western patriarchal figure…no matter how jolly. Real or Imagined or even Manufactured.

    My girls and I celebrated the Spirit of Christmas. December 1st-24th was about giving and gifting to others. On December 25th, they received an over-sized stocking and one present. For the next 12 days they got to open up one present. That was our version of the 12 days of Christmas. This ended on the Epiphany when the holiday decorations came down. Typically their big ticket items were gifted toward the end. Even Santa knows how to shop for bargains!

    When people asked my daughters (who are of mixed race) if they celebrated Christmases, I always giggled a bit when they replied that in our family we celebrate Epiphanies.

    • jenniferjchow says

      That’s pretty funny about having so many epiphanies!

      I love the principle about gifting to others. I have a friend who recently got an advent calendar. Instead of getting chocolates in it for each day, it has an action for every date–something to spread joy to others.

      One of my previous bosses also instilled a financial tradition early on with her kids for year-round giving. She would have them separate their allowances out to save a portion, spend a part for themselves, and give the rest to someone in need.

  3. I love this post!
    Santa can be a confusing character, especially for children brought up by foreign-born parents. For the French people our Santa is Le Père Noël. So this is how I called him when my four children were little. It was okay although strange to have both names for the same person. Things got really confused when they spent their first Christmas in France.
    “Santa is so skinny!” they kept saying whenever they saw pictures of him in France.
    It got worse when fake Pères Noël like the ones we have here, strolled in the malls so the kids could have their pictures taken.
    “He’s ugly!”
    “He’s not Santa.”
    “He’s a fake!”
    I thought it was maybe time to tell them about the Santa thing. But as soon as we were back to the US they forgot about the French skinny one.
    The funny thing is as they grew up they started to call Santa Le Père Noël.
    Thank you, Jennifer for bringing your unique touch to a touchy subject.
    Happy Holiday Season to you and your readers.

    • jenniferjchow says

      Thanks for sharing, Evelyne! In America, Santa’s known for his girth. I think I would be startled by a skinny one, too. :)

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