Family Traditions + To Santa Or Not To Santa

Written by NPN_Admin on December 14th, 2010

Balance, Belief

Welcome to the December Carnival of Natural Parenting: Let’s Talk Traditions

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama.

Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


We asked NPN and Code Name: Mama readers to share some of their own family traditions to include in the December Carnival of Natural Parenting. Below are the some of the beloved memories, age-old rituals, and brand new traditions that you shared.
Keep reading for snippets from some of the posts published around the natural parenting blogosphere lately on the Santa Dilemma.
And please leave a comment sharing one of your family traditions, and/or your thoughts on Santa Claus.

Winter Holiday Traditions
We make a fort in the living room, watch Christmas movies and decorate Gingerbread houses. It is great to spend time together, creating and working on a common goal.

Rebekah, Author of Liberated Family:
For Winter Solstice we go to a guided tour around a Native American archeological site known as Spiro Mounds. The mounds line up with the sunset during the Solstice and Equinox sunsets. It’s very cool and the history is fascinating. Afterwards, we go home and give our son (now sons) a gift to celebrate the solstice. At some point during all of this we read our book about the history of Winter Solstice.

Heather, NPN Editor:
Every December for the past three years, my son and I have volunteered at Santa’s Workshop, which is a local used and new toy drive for less fortunate kids in our community. We bring all the toys my son has outgrown or no longer plays with for donations. At Santa’s Workshop, we go through each and every toy and clean them up to make them look “new” again, then set everything up like a toy store for the parents to come in and do their shopping (at no cost). We have a lot of fun together and it gives me the opportunity to teach him valuable lessons about the holidays, giving, sharing, and helping and thinking of others.

My whole family purchases “Christmas PJ’s” that we don’t wear until Christmas Eve. All of us (siblings, significant others, children, and sometimes even friends!) sleep over at my mom’s house on Christmas Eve wearing our new pj’s. We each choose one gift to open that night. If you happen to choose socks, oh well! The rest of your presents will be waiting the next day. This made my mom get very creative in her wrapping techniques!

Giving terribly confusing “clues” about Christmas presents when pestered!

Stacy, Author of Mama-Om:
My favorite tradition is keeping the lights off all day on the day before Solstice (we use candles, and I admit we kept the Christmas tree lights on!). On noon on Solstice, we do a simple “welcoming the sun” ritual by hanging a watercolor sun (that we paint and cut-out) in our big window. Then it’s to the beach, where we draw a spiral in the sand and take turns walking the labyrinth toward the center, to the dark days; in the center, the solstice; and back out, toward the coming light. It is so wonderful standing in the middle, looking out on the water.

For the holidays, my husband sneaks into our bedrooms on Christmas Eve while we’re sleeping & leaves stockings stuffed with goodies. We all awake to the surprise of what he’s put in them, and we all stay in bed to play and enjoy the trinkets in our pj’s. It’s a wonderful, simple tradition that helps us stretch out those languid morning minutes. My husband’s parents did it for them, and now he’s doing it for our kids — I think it’s his favorite part of the holidays too!

My favorite Christmas tradition is to put out the nativity set in early December without baby Jesus. Then, on Christmas morning, I put him in the manger before anyone wakes up. This gives us a month or more to talk about the true meaning of Christmas.

The last thing we open on Christmas Morning are always the Christmas stockings. I loved sneaking around after my daughters were in bed on Christmas Eve “playing Santa.” Even now that they are adults I find myself tiptoeing down the stairs after they are all asleep to fill the stockings!

Brenda, Author of Attached to My Boys:
I was born and raised in south TX close to San Antonio, and growing up my family always had tamales, chili, enchiladas, and all sorts of Mexican food for a Christmas Eve feast. It is a tradition I love to carry on for my children.

We leave small gifts on a random doorstep in the middle of the night with a short poem telling them they don’t know us and to please pass on the love.

Other Traditions

We took pictures of Atraiu with my husband’s leather jacket (which also belonged to HIS father) a few days after he was born, we plan to take pictures every year around his birthday. If we have a daughter we’ll take her pictures with my wedding dress (which was my great grandmother’s wedding dress as well).

My favorite tradition is definitely birthday week. Anyway you wanna split the week as long as your birthday falls in it. Start on your birthday, end on your birthday, have your birthday mid week, I don’t care. NO CHORES for a WHOLE week! My parents started that when I was young and I carry it on in my family.

To Santa Or Not To Santa

Quite a few natural parenting bloggers tackled the question of whether they felt comfortable actively “doing” Santa Claus with their children. Here are snippets from each post, please click on over to read the rest.

The Great Santa Debate:
“My four year old daughter is still in that interesting age where she believes in fairies but says that ‘trolls are just made-up to scare people’. She knows the story of St. Nicholas and how children throughout the world have celebrated his day. We read her stories about Santa Claus and allow her to come up with her own conclusions. When she wonders how St. Nicholas could still be alive so many centuries later, how he gets to all those houses, and why we bring presents to kids whose parents can’t afford any if Santa’s elves can just make presents, I first ask her what she believes.”
~Read more from Candace Lindemann

Honoring Belief and Authenticity During the Holidays:
“The next year, at the age of six, he asked is Father Time was really real? I told him that I could answer his question and that the answer would be one of two – either yes or no. If it was yes, life would go on as it had and he would still believe. However, if it was no, would he be happy no longer believing? I asked him a hard question. Which was more important to him: knowing for certain what the answer was or believing regardless?”
~Read more from Living Peacefully with Children

I Do, I Do, I Do Believe in Santa Claus:
“Do your kids write letters to Santa with loooong lists of “wants”? Like prayer, which should also not be a list of wants, letters to Santa should include thanks, wishes for others, and then a single want. My letters as a child were never extensive lists. The excitement was in the writing and sending (Macy’s has a beautiful mailbox that makes a wonderful tradition).”
~Read more from Baby Dust Diaries

On Being Honest With Our Children:
“I never have been keen on the idea of telling my kids that Santa brings the Christmas presents, and here are just a few reasons why:
1. We work our butts off to afford a few special presents for the kids, and I’m not about to let some imaginary man take credit for it.
2. Kids always find out that Santa isn’t real eventually, and many end up hurt or disappointed.
3. I’ve always wanted to be 100% honest with my kids, in a way that is age-appropriate, without dumbing anything down or telling lies that I will later have to unravel. I want my kids to trust me – not wonder what else I’ve lied about.”
~Read more from The Feminist Breeder

“I am excited about following in my mom’s footsteps and being the best Santa I can be to my children. I won’t manipulate Santa to get “good” behavior – mostly because “good” and “bad” aren’t words we use in our house. We set limits, and we model appropriate behavior.”
~Read more from Toddler in Tow

The Santa Dilemma:
“When direct questions about his realness come up, I turn the conversation to them – allowing them to formulate their own opinions, like:
Question: Does Santa deliver all the presents in one night?
Answer: Do you think that’s possible to do? How many kids are there in the world? How big is the world? How fast would he have to fly to make that possible?
Question: Does Santa come down everyone’s chimney?
Answer: Does everyone have a chimney? What about kids who don’t?”
~Read more from

Santa Isn’t Welcome at My House:
I am anti-Santa . . . for my own home. I really don’t care what you do with your kids. Do I think it’s lying? Yeah, I do. It’s not something I’m comfortable with. I work really hard to try to be as age-appropriately honest with my kids as possible. But I also don’t hold anything against anyone who feels that it’s all in good fun.”

~Read more from Christie Haskell

Kieran's not so sure about this guy with the beard.

We Don’t Do Santa:
“The fact that we’re going to emphasize that Santa is the spirit of giving, not a literal person who delivers presents, does not mean that Kieran will not be allowed to pretend and fantasize. Heck, Kieran acts out his favorite stories about peddlers and monkeys, broken down engines, dinosaurs, and more. Why not Santa?
But just as we don’t foster a belief that The Little Engine that Could is a real live train, nor will we help build up a fantasy world that involves Santa sliding down chimneys.”
~Read more from Code Name: Mama

Yes, James, There Is A Santa Claus:
“Santa was a staple in our house. Each of us chose a special cookie for his tray and carrots for the reindeer, and Santa in return left a note in the fireplace, carrots tops in the snow, and presents wrapped in his own special paper. My Dad didn’t just take us to sit on Santa’s lap, he made him come alive.”
~Read more from The Connected Mom


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

2 Responses to Family Traditions + To Santa Or Not To Santa

  1. melissa aka equidae

    We used to have Santa at home and I remember in the end he came to a natural end. I realised it was my parents somehow and that was it. I still am not sure how to go about it with my toddler. At nearly 2 he ain’t interested in presents and afraid of Santa. On the other hand we are trying to show him that Christmas is about loving and giving and the birth of Jesus and not on presents received.

  2. Dreaming Aloud  

    “And a Merry bloomin’ Christmas to you too!”
    So says Raymond Brigg’s Father Christmas. I, as I may have already mentioned LOVE Christmas, no humbugs here! And the hero of the day (minus, OF COURSE, the dear baby Jesus) is the man in red…