Opinion Saturday: Defective tooth fairy

(Oops–thanks to the joys of autopost, I accidentally posted two Opinion Saturday questions in one morning. For those of you who happened to see the other one before I took it down, don’t worry, I’ll put it up again next Saturday and you can comment on it then!)

This post over at Coulda Been Worse made me chuckle. It also reminded me of the Tooth Fairy trouble we’ve had at our house over the years. We’re in a little lull at the moment..nobody’s lost a tooth for a few months around here.

Just as well. The Tooth Fairy at our house is defective. Or lame-brained. I theaten to fire her at least 3 times a year. I venture to guess that she completes her mission on the first try about half the time. I can’t tell you how often I’ve had to CALL the girl on the phone to remind her to come, with my poor disappointed child looking up at me. Sometimes she’ll sneak in first thing in the morning, and my kiddo will find his or her bootie under the pillow right after breakfast. Sometimes she waits till the next night to stop by. She’s unpredictable like that.

I think part of my problem playing tooth fairy is that I’m conflicted about it. I’m always secretly glad when my kids figure out the identity of the Tooth Fairy– and of Santa for that matter. The elaborate fiction takes more mental energy than I have conviction for.

It dates back to my childhood. My folks didn’t do Santa or the Tooth Fairy. Looking back I don’t really feel like I missed anything. And yet each time I do a less-than-convincing job of perpetuating the myths of the mysterious gift-leavers, I wonder if I am spoiling some of the fun, the magic of childhood.

What do you think? Do Santa and the Tooth Fair visit at your house? Why or why not? Give me your best argument. You have until Wednesday evening to state your case, and the best argument on either side wins the Golden Keyboard.

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  1. Hi Mary,
    I’ve been following your blog for several months, but just had to jump in with this one. We don’t do Santa, Tooth fairy, Easter bunny etc. at our house. We have two very important reasons. 1. I think Santa and the Easter Bunny take away from the truly awesome things we are celebrating on Christmas and Easter. I want my kids to celebrate how much God loves us, not some mythical figure. My kids get presents at Christmas- Jesus loves us so much he shares his birthday with us- presents for everyone! But they know who the presents came from, can be thankful for them and know that magic won’t suddenly make something out of our budget possible.
    2. The second reason pertains directly to the fact that all three of our kids are adopted- There are difficult things I know about their histories, their are gaping empty places that I have no answers for and there are joyful parts of their stories. As we explore at different times in their lives, their lifestories I don’t want there to be any doubt about my truthfulness. I don’t want any uncertainty about my truthfulness or willingness to share the whole story to creep into their minds and hearts as we explore together what we know and don’t know about their lives before we became a family. I need to be able to tell them I’ve never lied to them and never will and for me that includes the culturally promoted myths of Santa etc.

  2. Nope. We don’t do them here. No real reason, other than we just never started it when our oldest was born. When my children lost their first tooth, I put a quarter under their pillow, but that is the only time. I cringe when they come home from school, telling of friends getting $5 or $10 for a tooth! We have never had Santa, altho it has become a family joke that sometimes something from “Santa” will appear under the tree, but the kids have always known it was from me. I do give them Easter baskets, but we have never told them the baskets were from the Easter bunny. I don’t know why, we just didn’t start it and never made a big deal of it. We have explained to them the importance of not ruining the “fun” for other families, and my children seem amazed that there are children in school (even 4-5th graders!) who actually believe in Santa, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, etc. Oh, and we don’t pay for grades either! Such a big meany I am. LOL

  3. Katie’s only pushing 2, so this year will really be when we decide if we’re doing the Santa stuff or not. I’m leaning toward not.

    For me, as a kid, there was too much of a parallel in Santa and God. He watches you all the time, knows if you’re good or bad, rewards you for good behavior, is sad and disappointed if you’re bad, etc etc. To me, Santa was sort of the real-time annual version of God. Or maybe God was a long-term version of Santa with one big payoff at the end. So when Santa was revealed to be a sham…well, I went through a long agnostic period from ages 10-16 until I just decided I wanted to have faith. Maybe that was for the best. Maybe questioning it and deciding for myself was a good thing. But I remember feeling pretty lost and confused.

    So we’re shying away from Santa. My husband has an odd phobia of clowns and giant rabbits, so Easter bunnies don’t do it for us. We did the egg hunt and the basket, but we don’t push the giant bunny thing. Tooth fairy, well, we’ll probably do that.

    We’re consistently inconsistent if nothing else.

  4. We don’t do Santa or the Easter Bunny. My plain and simple reason: Nobody should be competing with Jesus as the hero of these two celebrations!

    Interestingly, our oldest child is especially given to fantasy and, knowing the full truth on one side of his brain, he chooses to nurture the Santa story a little on the other. It works for him somehow and I’m fine with it, and will jokingly talk about Santa with him a bit, as long as we’re clear that it’s just something we’re having fun with and that Jesus is the real hero.

    Now the Tooth Fairy? She has her very own gig, and we book her act whenever a little pearly white dislodges. I know that tension you decscribed between wanting them to have the fun and magic, but being just a bit uncomfortable with the deception of it. When my one child asks if “T.F.” is really us, I will not deny it directly, but just ask back, “Well, what do you think?” And to his answer, I reply, “Hmmmm.” If he persists more in the future, I may tell him directly, ask him to keep it a secret from the other kids, and then ask if he’d like the tradition continued for him. I’ll bet he says yes anyway! Fun is fun.

    But, yes, what IS with that Tooth Fairy anyway?? She is lucky that she does such highly specialized work, or she would have been fired years ago! I cannot tell you how many times she has not shown up until my disappointed child has already gotten up and come downstairs. Hrrumpf. Getting her on the phone is a very good idea, and one that seems to totally fit you, Mary, Ms. Get-It-Done !
    ; ^)

  5. Yes, we do all three at our house. I just think it is fun and the kids have a lot of fun with it. I loved those things when I was a kid and never felt betrayed when I found out they weren’t real. They are just for fun. Another part of the reason is I’m just a dork. I really get into it. For the Easter bunny I make bunny footprints out of flour either inside our outside and the kids get so excited to follow the tracks to find their baskets it is really fun. On Christmas Eve we leave carrots for the reindeer and, of course, cookies and milk for Santa (I make sure they are my favorite). I do think that for most people it is, of course, very important to concentrate on the religious reason for these holidays, but it is okay to have some goofy fun, too. As for the tooth fairy, we do it but that one does stress me out a little because I do forget and have to do it the next day, or I am afraid as I’m sneaking in during the night they will wake up. But I still do it. Our tooth fairy is fairly cheap, however.

  6. I’ll chime in with hmmj’s reason number 2. My husband thinks it sets the stage for mistrust and he hates lying to our kid.

    Since we aren’t Christian, the reasons of competing with Jesus don’t really hold true in our house, although I respect that reason. My reason is mere laziness. I don’t feel like it. Sorry kids.

    We still celebrate the holidays just not as elaborately as some do.

  7. Although we don’t have any children yet, we do not plan to celebrate Santa or the Easter Bunny. My parents always taught me that they were fictional, and I am grateful to them. Young children who are still sorting out the difference between real and make-believe could certainly be confused about the true God and Santa (who shares so many of his characteristics. I want my (future) children to grow up knowing God without any unneccessary hindrances. As far as presents are concerned, I would much rather teach them to be thankful to Grandpa and Grandma (or Aunt and Uncle, or whoever) rather than to some mythical being.

  8. I thought I’d delurk for a moment.

    NO. The reason plain and simple is that lying is against the Word of God. Telling my children about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny would be for me to lie to my children as well as for ME to SIN against God. No where in the Bible does it say it is ok to lie if its just for fun. We even go to great lengths to change sentences in stories if they include Santa Claus, or not even buy them. ( My kids are really young) How can you teach your kids to tell the truth if you don’t yourself?

    I want to be an godly example to my children and also want to live a godly life. I can’t do either if I propagate such things. I can encourage their imaginations in other ways.

    Getting off my soapbox and going back to lurkdom.

    BTW: I really enjoy your blog.

  9. Good question in your post. My baby just turned 30, my oldest is 43 so its been a while since we did/didn’t do these things. No Santa at our house, Jesus was the reason for the season and the Easter bunny leaving eggs??? we were farmers the kids couldn’t get their minds around that story. We did color eggs from our very own hens and I like you tried to be the tooth fairy more often than not forgetting and then leaving notes as to what happened. The kids tactfully suggested I just hand them the quarter in return for the tooth!
    They all report having a wonderful childhood so I guess it was all right.

  10. The Tooth Fairy and Santa are in full force at our house.

    The funny thing is, my husband, who was never in favor of them in the first place, usually ends up doing the dirty work. He had to peform the last Tooth Fairy visit and ended up having to drop to the floor and slither out practically on his stomach when one of the girls suddenly bolted up.

    He swears that the next time someone loses a tooth he’s just going to hand them a wad of bills.

  11. mylifemylove says:

    I loved that stuff as a kid. Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, even the Sandman! I was really gullible, too – I mean, a lot of kids find out on their own even before they start school sometimes, but I had to be told.

    I was 8 years old and my parents had just separated. My dad took the four kids who were still at home (three of us were out of the house by then) and we drove from California up to Alaska where my dad had a job. We were at some hotel in B.C., I think, one night when my dad pulled me aside from the other three to tell me that now, without having Mom there, I was going to have to be the one to help him out. So he told me there was no Santa Claus. He was going to need someone to help him wrap presents and fill stockings like Mom always used to do. I don’t think he knew how special those “magical kid” things were to me. In fact, he probably even thought I might have been over that stuff by then, but I wasn’t.

    And maybe I’m just weird (definitely different then the rest who have commented so far) but my kids will have the option to “make-believe” in Santa all they want. I love the Lord, I teach my little girl about Jesus every day, not just during the Christmas season, but I also want her to be a kid. No stipulations on that.

  12. We did Santa, the Easter Bunny, Tooth fairy, etc., but my parents always let us knew they didn’t exist. It worked out well for us. Being kids, we had fun pretending and our parents never had to lie to us.

  13. No, we don’t do it. I know it’s pretend, and all in good fun, and I should probably lighten up…but I just can’t bring myself to look the kids in the face and knowingly say something that isn’t true.

  14. And by the way…your design looks SO good. It makes me smile every time I come by.

  15. We do it, but in the same playful way that we talk about the dragons in the basement. We all know we are playing and we all pretend to be serious. It’s fun. I see it in the same light that I do all the talking animals in kid’s books. Is that a lie? or is it child-like play?

    We do, however, make it really clear that two different things are being celebrated. The the most important is the resurrection of our Lord. In addition, people are tired of winter and cold and that bunnies and flowers and eggs are symbols of spring and warmth. Our family is happy about both the resurrection and the return of warmth, so we celebrate both.

  16. Yes, they do and yes, they make me SO TIRED!!!!! I love Valentines Day because I don’t have to sneak around, and Jeff and I get the credit for all of our work and gifts!!!
    Like you, I am so torn about it all. I want them to have the magical adventure, but feel bad lying to them. I also worry that they will catagorize Santa, the tooth fairy, and Easter Bunny with Jesus. If we one day continue to play along with the game of Santa, who is to say that we aren’t playing along with the idea of Jesus, too. Man, this is really a struggle for me, yet I continue to battle with how to fix it. What a shame.
    Now, as for the stubborn little tooth fairy…yes, we have had our problems with her too. I don’t understand why Santa and the Easter Bunny never fail to do their jobs, yet she continues to let my children down from time to time!! Maybe it’s because we don’t leave her cookies and treats. Maybe it’s because she has to come more than one time a year….sometimes more than one time in a week. However, my kids have grown to love it when she doesn’t show up. They know that she just gets so busy some nights that she doesn’t make it, however, if she misses a night, she doubles the cash the next night. My Patrick actually hid his tooth one night so she wouldn’t show up…haha!!! One other time, she made it to Madison’s room, but clumsy her dropped the tooth on the floor beside the bed. Madison was so sad when I went into her room…she was holding her pillow and looking at the empty space where it had been as if she’d lost her last friend. As luck would have it, as I walked up to console her…there was the tooth on the floor…clumsy tooth fairy making my baby cry. “sigh” Oh how that tooth fairy can make us moms feel inadequate when she messes up. Maybe we should just fire her and do it ourselves!!!!!!!

  17. We have chosen not to do any of the make believe charters this world promotes. We decided that we didn’t want to lie to our kids, nor did we want them misunderstanding the make believe versus Jesus.

    I know it is going to be tough. All my family and most of my friends are have chosen to tell their kids about Santa, the Easter Bunny and the like. I am still not sure how it will work considering my sister just had a baby and lives a block from me. It won’t be so easy to avoid the situation so that my kids will not tell hers the secret. But we plan on sticking with our decision. It is what we both feel is best for our family.

  18. We do it all, but just like you – I am ready for the day no one believes – which is soon, I hope! Seventeen years of the “big guy in the red suit” getting the credit is enough for me!

    Then there is the dilemma of the neighbor’s kids getting five bucks(!) for their tooth and our cheapo toothfairy only leaves a dollar – and that is on a good day. Our tooth fairy is so inconsistent that our seven year old has taken to leave elaborate signs pointing the little sprite into the direction of the tooth.

    Now, here is a good question for you – what do you do with all of those teeth?? I have had many friends who save them, but that struck me as a little gross. Still, I thought I would give it a shot one time, and I stashed a few babyteeth away in a ziplock bag, in my underwear drawer.

    Turns out my tooth stash came in handy one day when my daughter lost a tooth while brushing her teeth – straight down the drain. She was besides herself, most likely mourning the loss of the easy money she would not be making.

    I told my daughter to leave a note explaining what happened and maybe the toothfairy could work something out. Sure enough, the next morning, there was her tooth (or more likely her older brother’s 😉 under her pillow.

    My daughter was thrilled, but her younger brother – who shared a room with her, was a bit freaked out. From that day on, when ever the tooth fairy was visiting their room, my son would choose to sleep on the couch downstairs. He did not want anything to do with the toothfairy buzzing around in his room while he was trying to sleep. Of course, he sang a different tune a few years later, when it was his tooth and his dollar being delivered 🙂

  19. We do Santa in our home but tell the truth if our children ask about his “realness”. He’s part of the joy of the season for us but isn’t the focus of the season. I don’t view it as lying or displacing trust to my children but rather as participating in something wonderful in their eyes. Something twinkly, magically, amazing! But, perhaps because we are careful to have Santa play only a small part in our Christmas (1 gift for each child as opposed to lots of family gifts, church services, service activities, charitable giving, hot cocoa, caroling, Bible readings, Nativity play, etc) he doesn’t seem to take over the holiday nor are my children devastated to learn of his reality. We talk about the real “St Nick” and how the tradition arose. We talk about the “whys” behind Santa and how parents continue that tradition in order to maintain the focus on the season of Christ’s love. So, I suppose we do Santa differently than many mainstream families but we still do him.

    Interestingly enough, the tooth fairy does not visit our home at all! LOL This came about because my eldest child is autistic (high functioning) and was very disturbed by the idea of this unknown fairy coming into his room at night and sneaking away with his tooth! LOL So, we told our children that the tooth fairy is a *lady* and only comes when invitied. She would NEVER just barge into a home unannounced or uninvited. Therefore, each of our children has the option to leave her a note asking her to visit. So far, none of them has chosen that option! Instead, we bake a “tooth cake” (cake decorated and shaped like a tooth) when they lose their first tooth and celebrate that milestone. We also do it for the last tooth lost. The ones in between, we just clap and feel much relief that that little straggly tooth has finally fallen out!! LOL

  20. I’m just looking forward to hearing what everyone else has to say on the subject. When we were kids, our parents encouraged us to believe in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. Which was all well and good. Until the fifth grade. When my best friend spilled the beans about Santa. And sex. All in the same run-on sentence. Horrifying. Mostly because she had her sex information all wrong. And frankly, I was relieved that a rather rotund man in black boots wouldn’t be shimmying down our chimney that year.

    We just want our kids to exercise their imagination. They don’t really believe. But they do enjoy the myth.

  21. Aww, sure we do them here…and the Easter Bunny. 🙂 I think it’s fine. I think that some people believe that their kids will come to equate these mythical visitors with Jesus and their faith. But, unlike these guys, Jesus and our faith are a daily part of our lives. I certainly understand anyone who decides to toss out the notions of EB, SC, and TF, as I’m sure that they do other things to reward/give gifts to their children. But I think that the elements of surprise and wonder are a big part of childhood. I have to be honest and say that, when I look back, those are the great memories that I have — bunny pawprints and half-eaten carrots on the floor, leading out the door to an Easter egg hunt; or of hearing the weather reports on the radio on Christmas Eve, and of Santa’s coordinates. There was no grave disillusionment that hit me when I discovered that they weren’t real, as I mentally worked out the logistics and found the facts lacking. I see the same in my kids. I’m watching my 11 year-olds being unable to tell me that they don’t believe and have friends tell them otherwise, but they think they have to keep up the game for me. LOL When I’m asked, “Mom, is the Tooth Fairy real?,” I just respond, “Was there something under your pillow this morning?” Honestly, I think that kids figure this all out when they’re six-ish, but they enjoy the game of it as well as we do. I wouldn’t trade ANYTHING for when they excitedly run in on those special mornings, screaming what’s in the livingroom. Fictitious characters or not, it’s still about giving good gifts to our kids. These traditions are what make for laughter and memories and quality family moments.

    And, yes, the Easter Bunny overslept this year at our house. Keeping those cellophane candy bags quiet was horrible. LOL

  22. Here’s my no-fail (so far – 40 or so teeth) Tooth Fairy routine. I have the child put the tooth in a snack-size Ziploc bag with a note telling how the tooth was lost. In my closet, I have snack-size Ziploc bags, a tooth-shaped notepad I got from the dental hygenist, and quarters. I will go into the closet, write a brief note on the tooth-shaped paper and put the appropriate number of quarters (1 for the first tooth lost, 4 for the fourth, etc.) and the note in a bag.

    After story, prayers, songs, back-rubs and so on, I leave the room. Then I get the Tooth Fairy baggie, conceal it in my hand, and go in for “one last hug.” As I’m hugging, I put my hand under the pillow, leave the Tooth Fairy baggie and retrieve the one with the tooth in it, concealing it in my hand as I leave the room.

    More than once, the child in question has come bursting out of the room announcing, “She came! She came and I didn’t even see her!”

    Best of all, I have 40 (and counting) hand-written, personal accounts of tooth loss circumstances which range from, “I found it in my hot dog,” to “It took me three days and a pair of pliers, but I got it out.”

  23. I saw this posted last Saturday and started to write up my thoughts. Then it disappeared. Then the TF was late for an appearance at our place a few days later, and I’ve been wondering if you’d re-post this Opinion Saturday. So it’s at my place; the link to the exact post is:

    http://learningpatience.wordpress.com/2007/04/15/the-tooth-fairy-and-friends/

    Blessings,
    jen

  24. My two cents, for what they are worth, are available here:

    http://shanrev.blogspot.com/2007/04/call-me-naive-if-you-want.html

  25. I really enjoyed reading all of these replies. Since my kiddo is still young we haven’t really thought about some of these issues before BUT we have decided to do the Santa thing and probably the tooth fairy too. I’m not really that big on the Easter Bunny for some reason – just doesn’t make sense to me – so we don’t really hit that one too hard.

    The reason we decided that it’s ok for Santa to come is that for us we feel that the historical St Nick was a Christian who cared for others dearly and would have (maybe did?) given up all he had for others who were worse off. Granted he didn’t fly through the sky with reindeer and all that but I feel that it embodies the spirit of Christmas. Giving to others as Christ would have and to celebrate his birth. We read stories about the true reason for these holidays as well as sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus on Christmas Eve and lay him in the Nativity.

    We talk about Jesus and God multiple times a day at our house and even at the tender age of 2 and a half we are memorizing scripture so I don’t fear that he will confuse belief in God with Santa or the TF since those things are only spoken about for a couple of weeks a year. (Not that I have any experience with the TF yet LOL we’re still getting those in – I’m sure I’ll be using the calling her on the phone one when it’s time!) Having God and scripture in his heart on a daily basis will enable him to keep the real reason for Christmas and Easter in his heart and mind daily for his lifetime as well as knowing that it’s fun and ok to relax and play around with make-believe.

    Granted, I can see why others have chosen to or not to do these things and I think – as with many parenting choices – it is something personal to each family. Each Mom and Dad just have to do what’s right for their family!

  26. We have not thought about the tooth fairy so no idea about that. However, I loved Christmas as a kid. It was magical. My parents did not wrap our Santa gifts, but left them under the tree unwrapped. All us kids would come down at some point in the wee hours with the lights dark and the tree twinkling and find our gifts. I still remember the beauty and magic of those moments. So we do Santa in our house, but he only brings one gift.

    When I was in 5th grade, our teacher read us a story about a man named Nicholas who made toys for all the kids in the neighborhood and left them on the porches. Later, parents invited him into their homes and he left the gifts near the tree. It became an annual ritual in the town and when he passed away, all the parents continued the ritual in his honor. I cannot tell you how wonderful this story was for me — it put the gift giving in a really beautiful light and helped me make the transition from believing in Santa to knowing that it was really mom and dad. None of the magic was lost.

  27. Bummer. I did comment, a really long one! : ) But I think it was part of the “comment purgatory”!! : (

    Well, since I’m passionate (not legalistic!!..there IS a difference!) about this….I’ll try to repost : )

    I have a precious friend (sister in Christ) here who does the tooth fairy, some easter bunny, and would do santa clause (but her husband will not let her). She does them simply because of the “magic” they bring to childhood. I agree this is a winsome argument.

    BUT I grew up with santa, the easter bunny, and the tooth fairy. My mom did a fab job of making it all very real…..I got letters from santa during the year, I left milk and cookies out for santa, and “he’d” leave me “thank you” notes. The easter bunny would leave me a basket full of goodies. And the tooth fairy would somehow find her way under my pillow while I was sleeping very faithfully. And it WAS “magical”. I was captured by it all!!! My mom played up Santa until I was well into Jr High….though I knew santa wasn’t real long before that! I remember going to bed on Christmas Eve watching out the window, falling asleep….just hoping to get a glimpse of Rudolph.

    I have many wonderful memories of these “magical” moments.

    But they offered no hope. When the holiday was over, there was a significant sense of sadness because the holiday was over and the anticipation wouldn’t come for another year or until the next tooth fell out!

    When Jesus captured my heart, and I understood the meaning of these holidays……the magic became reality AND eternal! I never looked back at the world’s “magic” of these holidays because it’s always disappointing…and Christ is never disappointing!

    See, Mary, you say….I didn’t have these things, and I don’t feel like I missed out. I say…I had it ALL, and I DID!

    There’s much more I could say on this, but one thing that has continued to pop into my head since my “first post” on here that disappeared (that I didn’t originally post) is this:

    when I’m in heaven (and when my kids….Lord willing….are in heaven) I don’t think I’ll look back and say…..darn…..wish I would have given my kids more “magical” moments on earth. I think I’ll say…..ohhh….I could have done a much better job of preparing my kids to worship our LORD!!!

    See….I think that’s our goal…to prepare our kids to worship the Lord…to prepare them for eternity! So, I guess I’d have to be convinced that santa, the tooth fairy, and the easter bunny prepare my kids to worship the Lord and prepare them for eternity! ; )

    There’s another point that brings me to – we are so easily distracted in this world. There are SO many things that take our attention away from our Lord…..not to mention our sinful hearts. With that in mind, I don’t want to intentionally put time into something that will distract my heart from worship….because there’s enough in my own heart and in this world that does that without having to be intentional about it!

    So, to answer your question : ) We don’t do santa, tooth fairy, or the easter bunny in our home or with our kids.

    The question we have faced is “what do you DO with them then?” because they are EVERYwhere….ESP. santa! We’re still trying to answer that one for ourselves…..because we can’t ignore it…..and we don’t want to – it’s definitely part of our culture! Next year we’ll probably start reading/teaching about St. Nick……and go from there!

  28. Just found you via Shan. I posted about this recently too (here, scroll down to below the pictures). I grew up with it all, but I think we’re abandoning it in our family. At least Santa and the Easter Bunny. I don’t think I’ll have as hard a time with the Tooth Fairy, since she’s not connected to anything sacred. My problem is mostly with how confusing it can be to a little kid to hear about Santa and Christ in the same sentence.

    The more I think about it though, I probably will do the toothfairy, because it’s just fun, and maybe Santa will even bring presents. But it will always be without pretense that they are REAL. I’ll talk about them in the same way I talk about my daughter’s imaginary friends and the bugs having a party in her mouth (thus the need to brush her teeth!)

  29. Wow, this got lots of responses!

    We started out doing Santa and such, but we dropped it when we became Christians. Not because people won’t become Christians if those tales are in your home, because we did. But my husband and I both left our faith behind when we moved away from home, it was more like a fairy tale than truth. Thankfully God intervened and showed himself in our lives later!

    We do not want our children to feel that we lie to them. If we lie to them about those biggies, why wouldn’t we be lying to them about Jesus? We still have fun, but the kids know the truth, and Jesus is alway the reason we celebrate. We discuss the truth with them about all things, and our kids are completely behind us and are glad we do things this way. They really hate being fooled.

    The thing we are so greatful about is that my husband and I never had a relationship with the Lord, and our kids DO! They love the Lord on their own, not just as an extension of their parents. Its not just a story, or game their parents play, but a real, living relationship with our creator.

  30. I grew up evangelical and have since become Orthodox, and this is an interesting question for me because now we celebrate the REAL reasons behind what have become rather silly modern traditions. So I don’t have a conflict – we have way too many traditions that are a part of our faith to have time for the made up ones! I don’t have my own children yet, but celebrate with many other children that are a part of my “family.”

    For instance, Easter baskets are a big deal. Because we fast from meat, dairy, oil and alcohol during all of Lent, the children have not had sweets, ice cream, hot dogs, etc for a very long time (children are not required to keep the fast as adults do, but usually don’t eat unnecessary sweets, treats, soda, etc). They will be eating simply because their parents will be eating simply, and it’s important to me that they learn the Lenten discipline. We celebrate Easter (which we call Pascha) at midnight, and especially for the children, it’s a more wonderful, spectacular day than Christmas and all the other holidays combined. Afterwards, at about 3:00 in the morning, the priest blesses our Pascha baskets which are filled with all the wonderful foods we have given up for so long, and we feast together until morning. The children get baskets full of sweets, sometimes with an icon or a cross or other gift. This is one of the things I most love about Pascha – the children getting up in the middle of the night and celebrating the Resurrection with such wide eyes as they hold their candles and sing “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!” No Easter bunny could compare to the real reason they receive Pascha baskets.

    Similarly, St. Nicholas is a real man, a bishop, that the children of our church know well, not just around Christmas. There are icons of him in our church, and the children know that he was a defender of the faith against the heretics, that he is the patron saint of children, and that he was a holy, loving, generous and compassionate man. A big deal in our church is St. Nicholas Day, on December 6th, when there is usually a big children’s festival and they leave their shoes outside the church so they can be filled with goodies in remembrance of the generosity of St. Nicholas. Many parents give gifts on this day and not Christmas. I would never want to confuse my children by confusing the beloved St. Nicholas with the mythical character of Santa Claus.

    I think part of the reason it’s so tempting to create these fictional things is that Protestants have lost some of the beautiful tradition and celebration that used to be a part of these two holidays. We don’t need to add “magic” into our children’s lives – Come to an Orthodox parish at midnight on Pascha, and see the children giddy with excitment awaiting the priest coming out into the pitch black church with a lone candle shouting “Christ is risen!!!” and see them happily singing at the tops of their lungs in their Pascha finest, forgetting how tired they are, and later receiving red dyed eggs from the priest and eating chocolate at 3am, and you’ll see why we don’t worry about losing the “magic” of the Easter bunny.

    I don’t care so much about the Tooth Fairy. She of course has no real origin in Christianity, so I honestly don’t care one way or the other. We’ll see when the time comes.

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  1. […] what they told their children about Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. I got lots of interesting answers. This week the Golden Keyboard goes to Melanie of Galvanized. Here’s the bit of her comment […]