I haven't been around my sweet blog very much lately. I actually have a lot of posts on my mind, including thoughts on my marriage and how motherhood has changed me... I've just been busy doing other things around the house and with Iris! It's a little early to be talking about Christmas, but this was inspired by a long-time friend of mine asking how I feel about Santa. If you don't know, there is a revolution of people who are proclaiming that encouraging your children to believe in Santa is cruel because you're lying to them. While I think this is a bit silly, I can also sympathize. My opinion is slightly mixed.
(Note: I should take this opportunity to share that our family is atheist. We respect the values taught by Jesus, as well as many other teachings from religions around the world but we do not believe in any kind of external deity.)
I know that both Marius and I both want to raise Iris to be self-aware and questioning of the world around her. We want her to feel confident in forming her own opinions based on what she experiences. But I also want her to realize that things aren't always as they seem, and that magic may indeed be real. I would hate to deprive Iris of the magic I felt as a child - I believed that Santa was a real person until around 10 years old! On the other hand, I can appreciate just viewing him as "The Christmas Spirit."
If Iris asked me whether Santa was real, I would tell her, "yes, Santa is real. He is a spirit of giving who reminds the world to be thankful for what they have in their lives, and to give unto others with kindness - to treat others as you would want to be treated." As for why he brings presents, I would explain that it's a "you receive but what you give." I think that being a model for kindness and elective charity (ie. donating food, working at a soup kitchen, bringing used clothes/toys to a women's shelter, etc) is a great way to show your child how helping others can be beneficial both physically and emotionally for everyone involved. Warmth and kindness in general is wonderful too.
"He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake, he knows if you've been bad or good so be good for goodness sake" may be viewed simply as a child learning to be accountable for their words or actions. I would tell her there are no good or bad children, but you do know what things are acceptable and make you feel happy, and what things aren't.
I really feel as though the story of Santa is special and magical. I remember feeling that fire of joy in my belly on Christmas morning when I saw that Santa had come to eat the cookies I made for him, filled my stocking and brought me something special because he was a kind man who existed to bring joy to children around the world. I don't view Santa as "a lie," but then I did not experience any kind of emotional trauma involving my parents telling me to grow up or anything of the like. If Iris asked me about any of the other technical details, I would probably agree that Santa lives at the North Pole, comes down the chimney, eats cookies, etc, but continue to reinforce the idea that Santa is "the spirit of Christmas" so that when she does find out or decide that he is not real in the physical sense, she will have a deeper understanding of what Christmas is really all about - the spirit within all of us that has the capacity to be excellent to each other.