Rethinking Santa for Your Family

Finding a Way to Explain Santa Claus

You want to handle Santa Claus differently in your household. Then, this is for you. If you prefer audio you can listen to the podcast episode at the end of this article.

You get to decide how you explain Santa Claus to your children. What this article does is it takes you through a process to determine intentionally how you want to talk about Santa Claus (Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas) in your family and how you want to go about traditions.

When you go through this process it doesn’t mean you will end up doing what I do with my family. Instead you will have a tool to consciously handle traditions in your family.

This process will work with any tradition, not only Christmas.

Traditions are for the future generation.

It’s to ensure the continuity of the past into the future. That is why we include the younger generation in so many of our rituals and ceremonies.

Keeping this in mind will be so important in navigating how you decide to handle not only Christmas but other traditions.

Notice you’re probably trying to figure out how to do this because of what you want to pass down to your children.

Two Elements of Traditions


Why do we celebrate/gather this year? (the reason)


How do we celebrate/gather this year? (the venue, family/friends included, tree/decor, Santa Claus)

Purpose comes before form. Therefore, it’s easier to determine how you want to explain SC to your children once you’re clear on your purpose.

When it comes to SC, what causes a lot of discussion is that we are confusing purpose (the reason we celebrate Christmas) and our values (what we deem important).

And sometimes the two can align and determining whether it does or doesn’t will alleviate a lot of frustration.

Each of person in the same family has different values. By separating out your values and your purpose you will arrive at an answer on what to do about SC.

We often conflate our values with the purpose and form of the Christmas holiday.

Step 1: Identify Your Values

We’ll first separate out your values from your purpose for the holiday.

Here are some of the common values that have come up and are a source of conflict in deciding what to do about SC:

Pick one value (if you have others not mentioned above or multiple you can redo this exercise with each one).

First, rewrite the value statement as what you want for your children instead of what you don’t want. Here is an example of the above statements.

  • I want my children to know the gifts came from me and my hard earned money.
  • I want to build trust with my children and demonstrate honesty.
  • I want them to feel joy and magic during this time of year.
  • I want them to see/witness that anyone and everyone can be a generous giver.

Knowing what you want to pass down will be more effective than coming at it from what you don’t want.

Dig deeper by asking the question “Why?” until you get to the underlying value statement. I’ll use the first statement as an example:

Why do you want you children to know that the gifts came from you and your hard earned money?

I want them to learn that you need to earn money to have gifts and that that comes from hard work. Why?

Because hard work is important to getting the things you want in life like the gifts at Christmastime.

Voilà. That’s the value you want to pass down to your kids.

Value: Hard work is important to getting the things you want in life.

Step 2: Align Your Values with Your Purpose (or not?)

Take those values listed from Step One and now, ask yourself these questions and these questions can be a discussion in co-parenting.

Question 1: What do you want the purpose of the Christmas tradition to be for you and your family?

Question 2: Do you want to align your values (identified in step one) with your purpose of the Christmas holiday?

Question 3: Is the Christmas holiday the time/place and vessel in which you want to teach and emphasise this value? Or do you want to emphasise it during other times of the year or throughout the rest of the year consistently?

From this, you will be able to decide if your values are aligned with the purpose you have for the holiday. Or not.

You may decide not to teach the value of hard work is important to getting what you want because your purpose of the Christmas holiday is to practice generosity. You can then choose not to align the two.

Step 3: Determine the Form

(aka what to do about Santa)

Taking the example above. Let’s say you want to teach the value that hard work is important to getting what you want along with your purpose of the Christmas holiday.

Then you can decide to not include SC and tell them he doesn’t exist today and that their parents are the gift givers.

Or you could decide to still include SC with one gift from him and then the rest of the gifts are from family/friends.

You could decide NO, I don’t want to focus on this value during this time of year because your purpose for the Christmas holiday is to practice generosity. Instead, you would rather teach the value of hard work the other 364 days out of the year at a consistent pace. You could choose the form of SC to be a vessel in which to impart generosity.

So many more options open up when you know the purpose and decide if Christmas and SC is the vessel in which you want to communicate this value to the next generation.

The form (how SC is communicated) can take on different ways and you get to decide and create that for yourself and your family.

I go through this process with the other values stated above and what decision I came to for my family doing this exercise in the podcast episode below! Enjoy!

Santa Clause and Race, Gender and Sexual Orientation

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