Rebeca Zavaleta

In our house, we open Christmas presents with a big family celebration, late
at night Christmas Eve. The older set goes to midnight mass, (after the
exchange of presents and a super fattening dessert), then the younger ones
go to bed in new pj's given by grandma. Santa comes in the early morning and
leaves small presents (wind-up toys, pens, scented soap, special
chocolates), and always an orange in the stockings. When ever I think about
these family gatherings I smile and can almost smell the pine and oranges!

Even though Santa is not a prominent feature at our house, my husband and I
never discouraged stories about him. One of my favorite childhood books is
our "T'was the Night Before Christmas," that I received on MY first
Christmas - I still love to look at the drawings!

When my daughter was 8 (she's almost 11 now), she began reading Judy Blume
books. I think it was the SuperFudge book that the main character revealed
that Santa was not real. My daughter was very thoughtful after reading
that, and then asked me what I thought was going to be the BIG question
about Santa.

Instead, she wanted to know '"But what about Rudolph??!!" And she would
say, "Hmmmm, I really wonder, if reindeer would continue to fly without
Santa? If I could fly, I'd do it all the time! Yep, I'm sure they fly

Sometimes it IS fun to believe or fantasize. She wants to keep that magical
part of childhood intact awhile longer. She doesn't want to be told about
reality when it comes to Santa or the reindeer. She loves to tell and write
stories, and she has two smaller brothers (7 and 3) who lap up every word.

But even in a family, there are always the realists -- Her brother was asked
when he was 4 if he would like to go with Grandma and have his photo taken
with Santa. He said, Heck no, he'd wouldn't like to sit on some weird guy's
lap who's dresses up in a costume!

All the kids laughed and laughed! No one was offended by his take on Santa.

I think that part of unschooling is just embracing all the stages without a
negative eye, and all the personalities. As a parent I really TRY to do
that, but it is difficult sometimes. Trust that your children will tell you
in one way or another, their stage. Also, as a parent I've learned that I
set the stage for my family's core values, but that my 'stage' is just one
of many choices available to my children. Some of the traditions will
remain with my kids as they mature - some will change or be discarded. I
hope the family gatherings and the decadent desserts remain!

So, I say don't sweat it - a little fantasy about Santa isn't going to ruin
your reputation as an "honest" parent. Your everyday actions will have a
larger impact. I have friends who were terribly bothered by their parent's
'lies' about Santa. But, then again, lots of things about their upbringing
bother them.

Gosh! I'm almost in a December frame of mind. What cooling thoughts on a 98
degree day!


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