‘Tis the season of giving — and questioning, for some parents lucky enough to debate how many of their kids’ gifts should be from them versus Santa’s workshop.
Thanks to the recent resurfacing of a Facebook post that went viral during the countdown to Christmas last year, parents are asking anew whether it’s a good idea for Santa to be the one giving most of — or the biggest of — their children’s surprises. “This woman has an interesting take on which Christmas presents should be from ‘Santa’ or not,” reads the introduction to a Dec. 2014 post from Canadian radio station 92.9 The Bull, which accumulated an avalanche of 1.4 million shares. “The more you think about it, the more sense it makes. Do you agree with this?”
The open letter that the station shares begins as “a reminder” to parents to be “modest with your gifts from ‘Santa.’” Noting that “not all parents have a ton of cash to spend on making their kids’ Christmas special,” the anonymous writer adds that “it doesn’t make sense to have Santa give your kid a PlayStation 4, a bike, and an iPad, while his best friend at school gets a new hat and mittens from Santa.” The woman continues to urge moms and dads to “give something small from Santa and make the more expensive presents from you,” and remarks that, “You can explain the value of money to kids, but you can’t explain Santa’s discrimination to a heartbroken kid.”
Many commenters on the post agreed then (“I love this respectful intelligent and thoughtful perspective,” wrote one) and now (“This makes total sense,” one mother recently shared). “My kids were convinced that they could ask for anything from Santa even if we said it was too much money,” the mom confessed Dec. 9. “Also… I got ‘but Santa gets us everything and you and Daddy get us nothing,’ at which point I started stealing some of the glory back from the big man.”
Yet there were plenty in disagreement as well. “Kids need to understand that in life, some have more than others. Simple,” leveled another commenter. Added a third: “If your kid’s going to be ungrateful because some other kid got something bigger and better then that’s their problem – not the way other parents spoil their children.”
Recalling her own modest childhood, yet another woman, whose mother lived off of public assistance, declared, “I think we should be teaching our children not to be concerned with what others have.”
The debate is a tough one, psychoanalyst Amy Morin tells Yahoo Parenting. “In an ideal world, all the children who receive presents from Santa would open gifts that were somewhat equal,” she says. “But that’s not likely to happen any time soon. And fortunately, by the time a child is old enough to recognize the disproportion, it’s likely he’ll start to notice the premise of Santa is illogical as well.” (Not-so-fun fact: Studies show age 5 is when kids typically stop believing.)
“Parents should be prepared to answer questions about why Santa buys some kids bigger gifts than others or why Santa doesn’t come to some kids’ homes at all,” says Morin. And that isn’t a bad thing.
“The holidays bring about an opportunity for parents to be good role models and start teaching kids valuable life lessons,” the expert explains. So before you decide how the gift labels will stack up at your house, she advises, “Ask yourself, what do I want my kids to learn this year?”
(Top photo: Sean Locke/Stocksy)