The Privilege of Being Santa

The Privilege of Being Santa

Thanksgiving has been devoured and that is the official start of the Christmas season in the Banks house. My kids are dancing to Christmas music and throwing stuffed snowmen back and forth as I type this. And they look forward to the coming of Santa Claus, as most children do.

Santa is Magic

As an adult, I tear up a bit when I’m talking about Santa Claus. For me, Santa is the embodiment of what I wish the world could do all the time. Santa is a worldwide agreement that for one night, everyone will help make the world a magical, wonderful place. When my kids ask me if Santa is real, my response will be: “We have the power to create magic and Santa is the perfect example. The actual person named Santa does not exist, but he exists everywhere and now you get to be a part of the surprise and help create that magic for your younger siblings and for others!”

In Alaska, Santa is VERY REAL. We have been to his house in North Pole (a pretty elaborate gift shop).

Our friend works in the Anchorage post office and his job this time of year is to stamp letters written from Santa with the North Pole postmark (more information on how to do this).

We had another friend (since moved away) that worked for NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense). Many, many years ago, the story goes that there was a SEARS ad run in the newspaper in Colorado to talk to Santa. Instead of including the department store’s phone number, there was a misprint and they instead published the telephone number of a super secret red telephone at NORAD (2 people had this number!). When children started calling the number asking about Santa, the Colonel that answered the phone played along. Later, he even called the radio and said: “This is the commander at the Combat Alert Center, and we have an unidentified flying object. Why, it looks like a sleigh.” NORAD now has an official “Santa Tracker” app and you can follow exactly where Santa is at every moment all day Christmas Eve (and boy do we!). Our friend that worked there says everyone at the Alaskan NORAD takes this charge of protecting Santa on his journey and tracking his flight very seriously. MAGIC, amiright?

Being Santa is a Privilege

If you are able to bring the magic of Santa to your children every single year, you are in a privileged position. Many, many people have to break the magic out of necessity. “Santa isn’t real. He’s not coming this year.” Many others, in a bad year, will spend this season stressed out and sad that they aren’t able to bring Santa to their children this year as they have in years past. They will try to figure out ANY way to keep that magic alive.

You Have a Responsibility

If you’ve never had to worry about providing (or receiving) the bounty of Santa’s magic, you have a responsibility to keep that magic alive for others as well. There are two specific ways you can do this:

  1. Don’t Have Santa Buy Expensive Things – No, this isn’t a pitch for an experience-based Christmas or for not buying things. This is is message for EVERYONE! I don’t care how many presents you personally buy your children, but remember, Santa is part of a collective agreement. He serves the entire world. If Santa buys your kids the latest video game console and a bunch of games and controllers, your kids will head off to school and have the standard post-Christmas conversations: “What did Santa bring you?” How will the conversation go when the response they get is: “Santa brought me a pair of socks and a book”? Santa doesn’t love your kid any more that that kid. You want your kids to have nice things and you have the means to provide them. When you are the gift-giver, this is a conversation you can have with your children later. But please, for the sake of that other kid, don’t have Santa be the one that buys all the expensive stuff. Let’s help level the playing field for Santa.
  2. Help Santa Out! – There are amazing organizations all over that help provide presents to people that aren’t able to do that for themselves. I’m not advocating just one way to do this. There are hundreds of ways!
    • Buy a gift from the giving tree in the mall
    • Donate a toy to a holiday toy drive organization
    • Mail a gift card or some cash to a family you know that could use Santa help this year (lost job? single mom? health problems? debt problems?)
    • Go through your Church or community organization that helps families in your community this holiday season.
    • Come up with your own idea!
    • Do more than one of the above!

I love Christmas. And I think the world desperately needs a little Christmas. Right this very minute! (couldn’t help myself.)

How do you keep the magic of Santa alive in your home and community?



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  1. Emily Jividen

    Oh, gosh. Expensive present buying Santa is a pain in the butt. If there’s any one thing that has made Little Bit question Santa’s existence already, it’s knowing that her presents may not be quite as expensive as those of many of her friends at school. Any “big” presents in our house always come from Mom and Dad.

    • MaggieBanks

      My oldest will probably start noticing that trend this year. She’s getting old, but she wants to believe so badly! But our Santa brings one meaningful small gift per kid. That’s it. (and candy)

  2. Yes, this is a very magical time of year. Santa adds to the fun in a big way. This year, I am thinking about being one of those guys to anonymously drops $1000 gold coin and one of the red kettles around town. I was thinking of putting it in a small envelope with a note from “father Christmas “or “Ebenezer Scrooge “

  3. THANK YOU! I always get a little pissed off with the people who post pictures on Christmas Eve of a tree that is being consumed by gifts. It’s not as big of a deal if the big presents are coming from parents, but we can’t have Santa playing favorites.

  4. “We have the power to create magic and Santa is the perfect example.” One of the best summations of the Christmas spirit I have ever come across! Thank you, Maggie. And I love your exhortation not to buy expensive gifts in the name of Santa. Keep it simple, keep it tethered to the real world. Christmas is not about expensive gifts. It’s about caring.

  5. We haven’t come up with a good idea to get the kids involved with Santa and his magic yet for this year. For us to keep the magic, we do the holiday gift tree at church, and then a toy for tots drive at work. I also donate to Denver Rescue Mission, just to help them out with the crunch this time of year.

    We were discussing what to do about “Santa’s gift” for the kids since we won’t be doing Christmas at our house. Typically, his are the bigger gifts, but I like the idea of changing that around. This is a good year to start. Thanks! 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      Good luck! The key is coming up with something magical… it doesn’t have to be large. 🙂

  6. Love it! We totally stuck to Santa bringing a small present and filling the stocking when the kids were little. I also always wrapped the “Santa” gift in the same paper (Santa paper) each year. The kids knew right away what gift was from the “big guy” and they couldn’t wait to open stockings each year (even though it was mainly really basic things!)

    • MaggieBanks

      Well done. I saw a meme one time about how saying Santa isn’t real because he has the same wrapping paper as your mom is like saying your friend isn’t real because she has the same sweater as you. I laughed. 🙂

  7. I love the idea of Santa not being the one to bring any big or expensive gifts. I’m going to apply that idea as Toddler BITA grows (right now we _could_ still get away with giving her empty boxes or stones for Christmas, and she calls him Santa Closet, which cracks me up every time).

    • MaggieBanks

      Santa Closet is adorable. Write that down so when she’s old and annoying you can say “awww, remember that Christmas you used to call Santa ‘Santa Closet’?” – I’ve got lots of ammo on my kids for this purpose. 🙂

  8. ChooseBetterLife

    That’s such a smart idea. Santa is for everyone and shouldn’t play favorites. It’s so easy to speak since I don’t have kids, but I love the idea of something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.
    Having kids help earn money for the big presents might help them appreciate them more and take care of them better.

  9. You brought back a magical memory: we were coming back from Christmas Eve service, 8:30 pm, our daughter was 5. Suddenly, we saw SANTA walking between 2 houses, in the snow. We pulled in, and our daughter got to talk to Santa on Christmas Eve! “Where’s your reindeers?”, she asked. “Oh, for these tight neighborhoods I parked them around the corner and gave them a break while I walked these houses”.

    Santa was, indeed, real that night.

  10. We were just talking about how we never believed in Santa as children even though our parents totally tried. And they were immigrants with absolutely no tradition of winter or Christmas holidays so I’m even more amused in retrospect that they made all that effort to celebrate Christmas for us kids, for several years, despite our never believing. Our skepticism was more rational though – how likely was it that Santa had the same HANDWRITING as Mom or Dad? I remember being five and saying, oh this box is from Santa Mom. That one’s from Santa Dad.

    We did as you suggest, though, just a small token gift. That was because we were poor back then but I liked it so much that we’re doing it now for JuggerBaby. Two small gifts, 1 is a book. I might actually wrap the book this year because maybe ze will be interested in opening a gift. Ze couldn’t be bothered last year and just drooled on the gifts 😀

    Santa belief or no, it’s so nice when people play along for the kids who do believe.

    We’ve already contributed to the food drive and now that thanksgiving is past, I can start to regain a smudge of sanity so I’m evaluating all the donations we still need to make before the year ends. When JuggerBaby is old enough to understand, we’ll make our choices as a family. I’d like zir to know that we have more than enough right now and it’s part of our responsibility to care for those who don’t have even the basics.

    • MaggieBanks

      Ha ha ha. I lov how much your parents tried. My mom wrote me a letter (in her handwriting) that said: “I believe in you. Why don’t you believe in me? Love, Santa” when I was like 10 and told her I knew she was Santa.

  11. Oh my gosh, I love this post so much! And I love the “stop the Santa insanity!” message — I remember very clearly when I was a kid exactly when the Santa gift inflation started. It was definitely driven by “my Santa” feeling the need to keep up with my friends’ Santas, and it culminated in a video game system (Atari 7500, baby!) that was definitely a step up from prior Christmases. And I even remember thinking, “This seems like a bit much, even for Santa.” Hahaha.

    • MaggieBanks

      My girls always say things like: “Maybe Santa will bring us the book we asked for AND watches AND a game.” And I always have to remind them Santa is here to give everyone magic on Christmas. He’s not there about the gifts… he’s there for the magic!

  12. Jacq

    My mom also used Santa wrapping paper for his gifts. She would fill out the tags with her less dominant hand, and even had a family friend fill them out one year.
    Being the oldest, I definitely helped keep the Santa spirit alive for my sister and brother. My grandfather was even ‘the’ Santa at our school the one year, that was a big secret to keep. But that pic of us on Santa’s knee is a little more special. 🙂
    When I was 5, my sister was supposed to arrive (we were adopting), but there were lots of delays, as it rolled into December I (ever the logical one) tried to rationalized it with my parents. Santa could go to India first, and pick her up, he wouldn’t have to drop her down the chimney or anything, my parents could meet him at the door, I’d be fast asleep and then my little sister could be here! In a wonderful twist of fate, her plane arrived Dec 24th. Best present ever! 🙂

    Thanks for the reminders Maggie. 🙂

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