easter bunny

Easter.  Ham.  Easter Eggs.  Jelly Beans.  Marshmallow peeps.  Chocolate Easter Bunnies, (see picture.) AND the EASTER BUNNY!!

(Spoiler Alert:  Do not let anyone under the age of 7? 9? 12? read any further.)

 

I am sure that most of us of a Christian faith believed in the light, magical myths of the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus.  Bah Humbug!

My realization that there was no Santa Claus happened on the day before Easter when I was seven years old.  Friends and I were playing hide and seek in our house, and my hiding space of choice was my mother’s closet.  I opened the door and plopped in…right on top of a cellophane wrapped Easter basket!  I could feel the jelly beans fall out, trickling down my legs, and the weight of my body squishing the basket with a sickening sound.  As the marshmallow peeps were flattened, my childhood fantasies vanished before my eyes!  It was only reasonable to assume if my mom pretended to be the Easter Bunny, then the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus were also non-existent.

This was actually a good realization for me.  For many years I had questioned Santa’s fairness.  If he was omnipresent, then how did he not know what I wanted to Christmas?  Even when I sat on his lap and told him…repeatedly…and wrote letters…repeatedly…he still did not bring me that all important, desperately desired, Barbie Doll for which I had asked. The Santa who came to my house had always disappointed me.  Having parents who were obsessively frugal, Santa would bring me unexciting gifts…a new toothbrush, a t-shirt, hair ribbons, and small bottles of shampoo (which I later learned came from the times my father traveled for work and stayed in hotels.) One year I even got 3 pairs of underwear that were much too big, but, judging from the price tag which Santa had neglected to remove, they were on sale for an unbelievably low price!   As a child, I could never understand why my friends and classmates received wonderful gifts of not only Barbie Dolls, but Barbie houses, Barbie cars and tons of Barbie accessories.  They would receive many, and I longed to own just one… but it was not meant to be.  When playing with my friends, they were always kind enough to share “Midge”, Barbie’s “best friend”.  While I appreciated this, I still felt resentful of their good fortune.

It wasn’t until I realized that Santa Claus did not exist that I understood that my parents had purchased all of those “gifts”.  As my childhood revolved around my dad’s “crazy” obsessions, I suddenly understood the significance of the gifts.  It wasn’t that Santa didn’t love me, or that I was somehow less worthy than my friends, or even because my good behavior wasn’t appreciated, it was because our family life was very different than most other families. And I took some solace in the fact that my dad, on his work trips, was thinking of me when he brought home the shampoos.

The whole concept of “Santa” has been a difficult one with my children. My oldest son, Francis, who is blind, hated the thought of having a stranger he could not see come into his house on Christmas Eve.  It was the one night of the year that I let him lock his bedroom door.

One year, I made the huge mistake of hiding the gift of a Little Mermaid comforter set underneath Dinora’s bed.  When she discovered it, she became hysterical, screaming that Santa had been in her room and he could have hurt her!  (She was going through a particularly rough phase with PTSD where she was seeing apparitions of “Bloody Mary”, so her sensitivities to having Santa in her room were heightened.)   She was only five at the time, and the only way I could calm her down was to admit that Santa did not exist, which caused her to cry even harder at the loss of this icon.

Steven, with his autistic tendencies, never did admit that Santa existed.  He was used to his strict schedule, and gifts from a stranger were not a welcome change.  He would wake  up every Christmas morning, walk by the Christmas tree under which the gifts sat, go down to the kitchen to grab breakfast, and sit in the family room to watch The Animal Planet on television.  It was his familiar routine…he never did acknowledge or look at his gifts. (In fact, to this day I have the SAME bag of gifts.  I bring them out every Christmas Eve, and pack them up every Christmas Day, only to be brought out again the following Christmas.  It is very selfish to say, but I have saved a LOT of money by not buying him gifts!)

Angel, my son with Dissociative Identity Disorder, (multiple personality disorder) had a great time each year developing his very eclectic request for gifts to satisfy his many “parts”, male, female, baby, toddler and his appropriate age.  I am sure that not many other boys asked for a complete manicure set along with baby rattles, Superman and Spiderman toys, and a complete bow and arrow set, (don’t ask…)  The problem that developed was that Angel had finally begun to trust me, a conviction he had previously  not held in his four other foster placements. Everyone else had lied to him and let him down.  But here he was in our family with a family he could finally trust, a family that would not lie to him, a family in which he felt safe.  When he found out that Santa Claus was a lie, he felt devastated, furious, betrayed, conned, tricked and misled.  This lie has left an indelible mark on his life, one which he continues to discuss with a counselor.  Every single time I have gone into a therapy session with him, the fact that I am a liar comes up, and that lie is always about Santa Claus. While it is easy for us to say “just get over it”, for him, it has been impossible.   If only I knew then what I know now, I would have done things very differently.

Marie, I am embarrassed to admit, was a young teenager who STILL believed in Santa Claus.  Learning from my experience with Angel, I have never perpetuated this myth on her, but she came to live with us with this belief.   Because Marie is deaf and developmentally delayed, she had few opportunities to “heard” or learn that Santa is not real. This became very apparent to me last Christmas.  On Christmas Eve I put out the individual bags of gifts from “Santa”, which included one expensive item for each child, (a DVD player, Gameboy, camera and so forth.)   On Christmas morning, Marie woke up before all of us and deftly went through the bags, taking out all of the expensive items and putting them in her bag, leaving the other children with only minor items.  She excitedly showed me the wonderful bag of gifts Santa had brought; HER gifts, along with the valuable gifts from everyone else’s bag.  I was mortified to think she would be so selfish, and I told her so!  I told her that there was no Santa Claus and that I had bought the items and they were not all for her.  She tried in vain to argue with me that Santa left them all to her because she had been good, but both of us knew better…

So, this has been a long winded way of saying I DISLIKE SANTA!!!  While he may be a wonderful myth to many, for me and my children, he has been nothing but trouble. BAH HUMBUG!!!!!

The Easter Bunny?  Hey, SHE’S okay…

 

 

********

Link to my book

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-apple-tree/id538572206?mt=11

The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane

Link to the Readers Digest review of my book:  http://www.rd.com/recommends/what-to-read-after-a-hurricane/

 

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Comments on: "Easter reminds me of the Easter Bunny and the Easter Bunny reminds me of Santa…" (137)

  1. I love not only today’s post, but your blog overall, as it is a perfect blend of honesty, humor, and pathos that resonates with me. Thank you for sharing your talent and stories of your amazing family with the world!

    • Thank you so much for reading!!!

      • iamisla said:

        Hello, 5kids! I’m going to call you that for short. I am 1kid. Called Isla. Who has enough energy for 5! I was so surprised to see someone had read my blog – I’ve been falling around wordpress trying to figure it out, haven’t even put up a header picture or anything yet, and not told a soul about how to get to it, until I can get it a bit better, but yet you found it. Thanks so much for liking one of my posts, and introducing me to you! You are utterly inspiring. I will be visiting again soon. And if you’ll check in again at some point I hope it will become more and more worthwhile as I find my feet! All the best, IslaLikeIsland. (Except more like her mother)

      • Nice to “meet” you!

      • so interesting! thank you for doing this.i work in a special ed program in an elementary school so i can relate 🙂 have a beautiful sunday with your wonderful family

  2. I see your point. For my eldest daughter it was her belief in leprechauns that got crushed, and she was very crushed. I didn’t want to lie to her, but I didn’t want to take away the magic of imagination and fantasy either. Thankfully, she does not appear to have been permanently damaged. Every time I hear this debate I am reminded of the letter, written decades ago in the NYTimes, which assures little Virginia that there is a Santa Claus, and explains him as a part of each of us. A symbol of kindness and generosity that each of us should aspire to, rather than a real person. I don’t know if that definition will be of help to your son, but I hope it will help you. You are a woman of great courage and compassion, and if Santa was alive today (the actual saint was a real person, though he died several centuries ago) he would be proud of you.

  3. I never believed in lying to my son, so, despite how it upset my mom, when Mr. T asked, I explained that there was not a physical Santa Clause, but that he was the embodiment of the holiday season – just like Cheri mentions above. It caused some discord in my family, and my poor son was told for years “Don’t tell your cousins!!!”. However, having said that, I think it is different for each person and situation – and hindsight is 20/20, but you felt that you were doing what was best for each of them at the time, and that is a wonderful thing.

  4. A great post! This forced me to think about my own experience with Santa. I had discovered that my parents lied to me about some other things, so when I discovered that Santa wasnt real- it wasnt too much of a shock, lol. I did spare my younger brother and sister from the “truth” and continued to write letters to Santa every year until Junior High!!

  5. Very powerful and oh, so true. My parents told elaborate stories about such things and it was crushing to learn the truth. In raising my own, I simply told them the truth about why we celebrated the holidays. Sharing this at school may have ruined the false dreams of some kindergarten friends, but at least they had the truth.

    • It’s so funny…my daughter was so devastated over the whole Santa myth. But now she does the same thing with her son…even telling him that if he doesn’t obey, Santa won’t come!

  6. You know going the other route is also fraught with problems….. I always told my daughter that Santa was Mommy. As a single parent I couldn’t afford what other parents afforded. So when we went shopping with a friend from business school one day in December, she asked my daughter, then 4 what she wanted Santa to bring for Christmas. In all four year old seriousness she explained “Santa isn’t real you know. Mommy buys the Santa presents.” “I’ll get you” mouthed my friend. That Christmas Eve, after we got home from worship, Santa came to the door with a bag full of gifts, all for my daughter. It took a long time for the immense confusion of a “not real” person arriving in person and giving gifts. We still talk about the trauma of that event as my grandchildren prepare to open “Santa” gifts… Mommy and Daddy gifts and Grammie gifts….There simply is no good solution to the Santa problem. The Easter bunny, I agree we can like he brings chocolate, lots and lots of chocolate and how can that be wrong….

  7. 🙂 Every child is wonderful and unique in their own ways. So sweet reading their reactions to a myth like Santa!

  8. As a child I believed in Santa, the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy and I taught my children to believe in them also. Now that I’ve become older and much wiser, I don’t agree with the concept at all. It’s great to encourage a child to use their imagination but this is teaching a child to believe in something that isn’t real and it isn’t harmless at all. I’ve seen parents force their children to sit on Santa’s lap so they can take a picture while the child screams in terror. My children didn’t cry or fuss, but when I look back at pictures taken, they are never smiling. And when children find out that Santa and the Easter Bunny are fake, they feel like they have been betrayed. For what purpose? Commercialism. Companies make a fortune during Christmas and Easter. This hit me very hard a couple of years ago when I heard an announcer on the radio say, “Oh, no. This is terrible. There won’t be any snow on Santa’s birthday.” My heart took a giant leap when I realized that many children probably don’t even know what Christmas is all about because there are so many adults who don’t care or believe. I have a baby grandson and of course his parents and other people will teach him about Santa and the Easter Bunny. I can’t stop them and I won’t get into any arguments to cause problems in the family, but I will be teaching him the real meaning of Christmas and Easter.

    • The Tooth Fairy was another awful myth. My parents used to leave a nickel under my pillow. I always left a quarter under my children’s. Now I hear some Tooth Fairies bring $5 bills. What if kids compare notes? It just doesn’t seem fair in some way. There should be a standard rate for lost baby teeth…

  9. I never held the Santa belief. Growing up Christmas was always about Jesus, and so for me Santa just didn’t fit. Same with the Easter Bunny, she didn’t fit. But the tooth fairy…I totally know she’s real! Thanks for this post, it reminds us that a lie is a lie, no matter how sweet or cute.

  10. Hahahaha poor Santa got a bad rep

  11. Holidays are always fun with my family. Especially since my little brother had the sensory problem. He can’t have candy with colouring in his candy. So he can only have chocolate which can sometimes be a hassle

  12. I think that part of the pretending is fun for the kids, as long as you remind them of the really reason that your celebrating

  13. My cousins informed me there was no Santa when I was four – when I asked my mom, she said,

    “Santa is the spirit of giving at Christmas – that means we can all be Santa – so Santa does exist, just not in one person.”

    That worked for me and that’s how I raised my kids – I’m so glad I was told the truth about Santa early on! 🙂

  14. Great post! Great comments too. My kids are still very small and so I really just had to start the charade this year and I really don’t feel good about it. We’re not religious so I don’t have any of that back story for the holidays. I don’t like misleading my kids and I’m not a good liar. I don’t know how I will keep the charade up for the next 10 years, but I’m not sure how to handle it any other way. So, so far I’ve succumbed to the peer pressure of these fictional characters.

    • Minimally, I think the key is not to “hold” these myths over their head. “If you don’t behave, Santa won’t come.” or “Santa is watching you.” I think if it just done lightheartedly it would be okay, there is too much commercialism of Santa vs the real meaning of Christmas. I don’t know the answer…I just know that it didn’t work out too well for me personally when I was a kid, or for my kiddos.

  15. Great post! I especially want to comment on your last comment above about how critical it is to not “hold the myths over children’s heads” The over commercialization of Santa and the Easter bunny etc makes it extremely difficult for parents that don’t want to lie to their children about these characters… My husband and I have not had to face this yet, but struggle with what to do. We don’t want him to be the only kid a school who does not “believe” but at the same time I don’t want to lie to him…I want honesty to always be present with everything in our family.

    Great post!

  16. I enjoyed this blog especially!!! It made me think of a story I thought you might find amusing. I played the Easter Bunny at my church Easter egg hunt for several years through college. One year after taking odd the costume I was hanging it back up and decided I needed to wash out the mask(it was latex rubber and when you’re in the thing for three and a half hours you sweat a lot and it’s nasty). I proceeded to walk out of the room I was changing in holding the mask by the ear dangling it at my side. I thought the only people left were adults cleaning up but there standing in front of me was one of my favorite seven year olds. I froze thinking I had just spent hours amusing children as the character I had just spoiled for her. She then proceeded to place her hands on her hips and said “I thought it was you in there, I couldn’t find you anywhere and I saw your car outside.”. Yes she didn’t believe in the Easter Bunny and I didn’t ruin it for her. It’s proven to bring back a good chuckle every now and then and I look forward to telling her the story when she’s a teenager and will be old enough to appreciate it.

    • That is so funny! The kids in my Sunday School class recognized the assistant pastor as Santa, but they each whispered they wouldn’t tell anyone, and giggled at their secret. I think little moments like that help to ease children into realizing the truth and not taking it too seriously.

  17. This is funny and you handled it all so well, from your own to your children’s. You are an amazing woman. I didn’t want to lie to my son and wasn’t going to do the Santa myth – but he loved the whole Santa thing and christmas is his favorite holiday – he says it’s because he gets gift, but I think he really loves the idea of a man who knows that my son really is a good boy in his heart when so many others tell him he is bad (actually, not following rules: but he’s really sensitive). I just didn’t want to shatter that and actually I am getting into the christmas spirit through him. Yet, last year he told the “Easter Bunny” that he was just a man in a bunny suit.

    • Funny…
      Maybe he “believes” in Santa for the positive reinforcement, but really knows the truth(?)

    • @janekinpis- I am really glad that I read your comment. It has given me a new perspective on my own son who is autistic. Like many autistic children he has a very hard time understanding what others are thinking or feeling, so he is often unaware of the reactions of others, but because he is so incredibly hard on himself, and is very aware that he is different and his own struggles, he often feels that he is a “bad” child. Even when we tell him otherwise repeatedly. I have been honest with my children about Santa and other holiday characters, but he chooses to continue his own beliefs regardless. While I remain honest (mostly in regards to what we can afford to get), I do not argue it with him. I now wonder if he doesn’t cling to the idea of Santa for the same reason you believe your son does. A very interesting thought. thank-you!

  18. greenandclean said:

    Yes, the days are numbered over here. I often wondered if I was doing the right thing but I try to stress the “spirit” of the holidays more than anything. My kids still left their baskets out for E.B., though.

  19. I had always tried to keep the magic in Christmas for as long as I could, but when my oldest son was 12 and would be entering high school the next fall, I figured it was time to break the news. I was thankfully relieved when he didn’t throw a fit. He wasn’t disappointed. I guess he either already knew the truth or he was old enough to take disappointment like a man (huh?). Since his brother was 9, I asked Kai to keep it a secret for a while longer and he seem to get into the spirit of Christmas morning. Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays. An Easter basket with a few little toys and a chocolate bunny or jelly beans doesn’t set you back financially for the year! And, it doesn’t have the overwhelming amount of candy like Halloween.

  20. You must have the patience of Job. It is so interesting how each child related to Santa in completely different ways. This is one of the most difficult aspects of parenting: every child is so unique, it would be impossible to deal with each of them in carbon copy ways. The posts that I’ve read so far, (maybe I need to dig a little deeper) all seem to be “conclusions” about how you see these situations after the fact, or how you deal with each incident in such a coherent and logical way. Really, how do you deal with all of the “details?” How do you keep up with all of the idiosyncrasies without losing your mind? Do you ever question your sanity? Do you ever wonder if you’re taking the right approach? Do you ever wonder if you’re making the right choices or if your children will grow up to love and appreciate you? Have you always been so self-assured? What was it like when you first started caring for children with disabilities? You do mention “remaining sane” in your Blog title, but you seem SOOO sane to me. How do you actually STAY SANE? How do you do it? Happy Easter!

  21. I grew up knowing full well that Santa wasn’t real, but I still waited up for him. Later on I labeled my Uncle as Santa and the first Christmas he wasn’t allowed to be at my grandparents (due to a very stupid situation) was the first Christmas I lost my Christmas spirit. I’m still trying to get it back and it’s been at least 14 yrs. My in-laws still have “Sandy Claws” presents under the tree. It’s just a funny tradition for them. Despite my mother in law wanting my sons to believe in Santa, I’m not going to perpetuate it. But hey, I still believe in elves, dragons and fairies, lol. It hasn’t been proven that they don’t exist!

    • I just remembered something my mom used to do with our easter baskets when we got older. She’d lay out a trail of clues and it’d be like a mystery hunt (or quest) to search for the baskets.
      As for telling other kids about Santa, I was explicitly told not to tell anyone, especially my cousins, and I remember being angry that I couldn’t.

  22. I found out about them not being real when mum tipped my tooth in a glass of water which held my tooth for the tooth fairy onto a potplant. I cottoned on to Santa and the Easter Bunny at the same time. Now as a parent of 4.5, 3 and 19m I am questioning the wisdom and ethics of encouraging belief in them. We’re not a family of faith so the traditional stories don’t fit with us although I can appreciate the traditions behind the traditions of the events. I want my children to grow up with the magic I had as a child but it is hard to fit all of it together.
    Reading your post opened up a whole new world to me of how things many see as safe and normal can be perceived totally differently. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Isn’t it funny how we all learn the reality over one little thing…you with the tooth in the glass, me with sitting on the Easter basket. Kids are clever given the clues.

  23. My parents didn’t let us believe in Santa because they didn’t want to lie to us. But they also explained that most other children believe in Santa and that it’s fun for them to believe, so we shouldn’t tell them he’s not real because it could make them sad. I don’t remember ever telling another child that Santa wasn’t real, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t.

    Also, my youngest niece has the kind of personality where she would need to tell others no matter what we told her. I can see how other parents could be annoyed by that. However, my opinion is, if you’re going to have your kids believe in myths and things you know aren’t true, you should be prepared that someone out there will correct them.

    • What a nice solution. I do know that my daughter, who learned at the tender age of 5 there was no Santa because she was petrified “he” had been in her room, never told another child the truth. But, like you, she didn’t have the personality to blab the truth! My son, Angel, he would have taken out a billboard saying there is no Santa if he had the money…

  24. Yocheved said:

    Wow. I have never been more happy that I didn’t do the fantasy thing with my daughter. She has Williams Syndrome, and is extremely logical. She also has severe anxiety. I can’t even tell her that I am thinking about buying her a present, without her getting very upset.

    She told me years ago “Don’t ever throw me a surprise party. I hate surprises.” Everything in her life has to be predicable, and it has to make perfect sense.

    • She sounds a lot like my son, Steven. No Santa. No holidays at all. They are not part of his routine and if his routine is disrupted, HE gets very disrupted and can have a meltdown.
      WIlliams’ Syndrome is a very difficult syndrome to deal with. I have such empathy for you!

      • Yocheved said:

        She has very Aspie tendencies, so I’m somewhat familiar with that. We really did think Asperger’s at first, because we’d never heard of WS before. She’s absolutely delightful to have around, but sometimes her rigid thinking can cause problems for her. She’s also very rules oriented, and everything has to be “just so”.

        It’s a blessing because I know she’ll always do her best to obey the rules and be a good girl, but I have to constantly remind her that she can’t go around policing everyone else!

  25. I think we had the same Santa when we were little, I’m relieved. Now, about what you said….. You mean Santa doesn’t exist? I’m particularly disppointed about the tooth fairy; I was hoping for a boost to retirement when my teeth start falling out. Now I’m off to find the Easter Bunny and get this story straight……

  26. I love the Easter Bunny card by the way! I think I have that card somewhere! I agree on the bah humbug!! Our reasons are because everything is so commercialized! I love your stories!! You have a great sense of humor! Hugz, Lisa

    • I had the same reasons. And, even given what I’ve learned from my kids, I can’t say for sure I wouldn’t do it again…I see my daughter who was so traumatized by the whole thing telling her son about the Easter Bunny and Santa…

  27. Hi 5kidswdisabilities! First I want to tell you how much I enjoy your posts, especially this one. I too struggle with holidays, and really just being consistent in general when dealing with my 4 children, and only 2 of mine have special needs. I can’t imagine what it would be like with 5 children with disabilities. I am often inspired by your posts, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the humor, which is often what get’s me through the day. So thank-you!

    Also, this may not be the appropriate place to ask this (I’m very new to this), but I had every intention of blogging about our own holiday struggles and experiences later today, and after reading your post I would like very much to find a way to link to it from my own. I don’t have very many readers, but I think the few I do have would like your story very much. I’m not sure if reblogging would be the best way to do that, or if there is another way; can I post a link? I don’t mind reblogging at all, just not sure if that’s the best way to go about it. Above all, is that alright with you?? If you approve, and if you have any ideas on how best to do this, please let me know. Happy Easter!!

  28. jessemathewson said:

    Reblogged this on Jesse Talks Back and commented:
    Beautiful, love this!

  29. As always, wonderful.
    I have never told my children what to believe. When asked I respond with a question about what they believe. Eventually they come to their own conclusion. I have been blessed with the older ones knowing that they had a magical childhood and can now step up and help the younger ones with that same magic.
    Santa brings one gift, the Easter bunny hides the real eggs and plastic that we dye and we fill. And my children believe in the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They know the true and real reason for each season.
    But let me just say this….. I am soooooooooo happy that there are no other holidays with which we have to play to the magic.

    Thanks again for your wonderful posts!

  30. Reblogged this on lizbifslife and commented:
    In love the way this amazing lady writes. Heartwarming and entertaining.

  31. I feel a little guilty about how many chuckles I had while reading this! My first inkling that Santa wasn’t real was when I discovered that Santa always used the same wrapping paper as we had the year before (my mom thought I wouldn’t notice). The hubby and I have quite some debates about this (he is Jewish, and thinks the whole Santa thing is ridiculous), but I have so many fond memories of it, that I insisted we keep it. This has made me reconsider the entire thing in a whole new light… 😉

    • Using the same wrapping paper would have been something my father done, but he would have never “splurged” on wrapping paper in the first place!
      I always wonder if Jewish traditions have the some type of childhood beliefs in something related to their faith.

      • Not according to the hubby. But they did go all out for the Tooth Fairy, which I have argued is susceptible to the same issues as Santa and the Easter Bunny. Apparently the hubby used to write the Tooth Fairy long letters, which my FIL answered with his left hand to try to prevent anyone from recognizing his handwriting. They saved them all. Cutest thing ever. 😉

      • Oh, that is tooooo funny! Writing with his left hand so his son wouldn’t recognize the handwriting. (He must have thought the Tooth Fairy had terrible penmanship!)

      • I’ve always wondered that as well. But I guess getting money smooths out all those strange details when you’re a kid!

      • Yocheved said:

        We’re Orthodox Jewish, so we stick to the Torah. Chanukah is for getting gifts from the family, just like birthdays. Nothing mystical about the presents. Rivka gets really excited when we light the candles, because she knows that the presents are coming next. Every year I ask her “What’s important about this holiday?” and she says “The miracle of the oil that lasted in the Temple for 8 days.” and THEN she gets to open her presents!

        Our fear about fantasy stories is if she finds out that they are not real, that she will question the validity of the Torah, too. When my little brother found out about the Easter Bunny, he decided that G-d didn’t exist either. It was a really tough time for my parents! I don’t ever want to be in the position of having to explain anything like that.

        We just finished celebrating Passover, which is a story filled with amazing miracles, tons of ritual, special foods, special visiting with friends, and lots of treats. We have so many holidays throughout the year, she doesn’t have time to feel like she’s missing out on anything. Our lives are filled with remembering the REAL miracles that are part of our past, present and future.

        (BTW, feel free to ask me anything you like about Orthodox Judaism. My personal feeling is that the more we know about each other, the more peace there will be in the world.)

        😀

      • Thank you so much for the Jewish info. I have learned a lot.

  32. I loved this post. Santa was something special for my sisters and me when we were little. The year my dad was killed at Christmas time we went to church with my mom crying because we had no presents. I remember coming home from church and there were gifts from front to back in our sun porch and my mother was in disbelief. To this day I hold Santa as a gift of people with giving hearts and knowing these little wonders of imagination as a gift for people to share. I think people worry too much about these things. Let the magic happen. You never know when a miracle can occur.

    • Yocheved said:

      I am so very sorry for your loss, and so grateful that you have such a wonderful community to take care of you at such a hard time.

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  34. Gosh, I love this post. And your blog in general! I love your honesty. Thank you for sharing with us. X

  35. I came so close to blowing everything on the Easter Bunny point this year. I was exhausted. So I resolved I would wake up at my normal time to do the filling and hiding of the eggs. By 2 eldest 6 and 7 started waking up at 1:30 to look for the eggs and see if the eggs had been hidden. We had put together an Easter basket for each of them which was out, but the eggs were not. At 4, I sent O, the middle child with a medical miracle IQ, back to bed. At 5, I got up and started stuffing eggs.

    My hands are so bad from MS, my wife buttons my shirts so I can go to work. 74 minutes and 38 silly little plastic eggs later, I finished 5 minutes before the kids came rushing down the stairs. My wife worries O will figure out about the Easter Bunny and Santa soon and tell his sister who is way too trusting.

    I come back to why I never lie to my wife and why she knows I will never cheat. I can’t keep up with all the stories and who knows what. I can’t wait for them to out grow these stories, but I also recognize how nice it is for these adopted children to feel like their family gets things like all of the other families whom they know.

    • You are so right about keeping Santa and the Easter Bunny if you have disabilities in the family…you don’t want the children to feel like they have lost out on something. (You are so smart!) You sound like an amazing father.

  36. Enjoyed your article, as usual 🙂 Lots of good comments, too. Makes me think a bit differently about how to counsel my daughter on handling this matter when she has kids. We always did the traditional Santa, Bunny, etc. with her, and I had special penmanship for each “character” because Shooshie liked to write letters and thank you notes, and a child’s letter should not go unanswered. The trick was remembering because she would know if Santa wrote in the Bunny’s handwriting! Maybe there is less traumatic way than making your kids believe in this icons only to shatter them later. Growing up sucks, so why add to the misery? Santa is the Spirit of Christmas, one of you commenters said. This is so true and something my mother always says. Encouraging the spirit of goodness and kindness is prolly better than encouraging kids to say I WANT stuff. Thought-provoking!

    • That is so great that she likes to write thank you notes. That has been a big faux pas of my parenting skills…
      It is funny that Santa and the Easter Bunny had to have different hand writing…it makes sense, though!

  37. Your post touched a chord with me (and I love your posts generally). Extra presents from Santa encourages children to want and expect more and more all the time, in a society where ‘greed’ has become a problem at the root of our current financial crisis. That is not to blame ‘Santa’ for the financial crisis, only as another piece in the jigsaw of the greed in our modern societies. One of the consequences of this is that as a social worker I have seen the financial impact and difficulties experienced by families who genuinely cannot afford to buy Santa’s presents, whether because they desperately want to keep the magic alive for their children, or perhaps because they cannot think of another way of handling the Santa lie without offending the adults and children around them.

    Your experience of the impact of lying about Santa on ‘kids with disabilities’ is very valuable to social workers, other foster carers, and others in the allied professions.

    But it’s not just kids with disabilities that can be disabled by adults’ lies. When we start the lies about Santa and the Easter Bunny our children are way too young for us as parents to know them well enough to understand the impact those lies might have on our children when they eventually learn the truth.

    For myself, I remember the absolute devastation I felt at the age of five when I found out my parents, whose mantra was that we must always tell the truth, had deceived me.

    I had had to prise the information out of them with weeks of questioning and my mother coming up with various explanations, even to the point of explaining the world was round and that it was dark on the opposite side of the world, and therefore Santa had a whole 24 hours of darkness in which to get the delivery job done. It was at the next stage, when I wanted to know exactly how many houses there were in the world so I could work out the math on how many seconds he had at each house to get down the chimney/knock on the door of flats and houses without chimneys, deliver the presents and get to the next chimney/house, that we got close to her telling me the truth. She didn’t know the answer to that question. A few questions later, when I asked how many houses there were in our street she asked why I wanted to know, so I explained that it was so I could multiply that figure by the number of streets in our town, and multiply that by the number of towns in our country, and multiply that by the number of countries in the world, and then divide that by the number of minutes in 24 hours to work out how many minutes Santa had to deliver presents to each house, did she finally relent and tell me the truth: that they had lied to me.

    I was five years of age. Learning my parents, the centre of my universe and the only source of my trust until then, had lied to me was devastating and from then on ‘surprises’ of any kind were banned in our house – holidays, birthday parties, and I absolutely hated receiving presents – every ‘surprise’, no matter how ‘good’ the intentions, was interpreted as another deception by my parents. It was way too many years, adulthood, before I ‘recovered’ from that lie.

    When the tooth fairy came along there was no pretence 🙂

    And the Easter Bunny had never got a look in!

    • Such an interesting comment. You were quite the inquisitive kiddo, weren’t you?
      As for the kids in foster care, I know first hand how they feel not to get gifts….or to get gifts they want! If parents don’t go overboard on gifts, it is okay. But if they spend hundreds (thousands?) of dollars, it changes things. Then kids DO expect big things for Christmas!

      • Unfortunately for my parents!

        But what makes me really sad and mad is the parents who get into debt for a whole year just to buy what is little more than prettily wrapped plastic rubbish that is broken or discarded in a day or two. I don’t blame the parents particularly because at the root of it is the consumerism that is peddled as the root of happiness and the proof of love, and the advertising media exerts a powerful influence on children and parents alike. Christmas before last we stayed with a family in the Andean mountains who couldn’t afford presents for the children – so they didn’t get anything other than some extra sweets – the whole village, not just one or two families. But all year those children have all the attention they can ever want and everything they actually need and whatever treats can be added in beside. It’s just not all saved up and given to them in one go at Christmas.

      • I have been to Guatemala near Christmas time and it is the same way as you described in the Andeas. I do think that kiddos these days get waaaaaayyyyyyyyy too many gifts, for the most part, (depending on the family, of course.)

  38. Oh goodness. So true…and so funny. When I was 4 or 5, I stumbled upon a bag of wrapped presents in my parents closet. Of course I opened them. My parents found me in a pile of wrapping paper & Cabbage patch dolls having a grand ole’ time..I remember them telling me “the secret” but not being upset due to my excitement of all the new dolls…I think the following Xmas is when it finally hit me. I dread the day my kids find out about Santa….it will mean they’re getting too big! 😉 Great blog!

  39. HO HO HO!! Oh man …Maybe I should not have said this to you..lol

  40. patsheveland said:

    I have to tell you – I read your blog posts and I just smile in my heart because you have such a way of bringing a dose of humor to what others could portray as devastating. Your children are so blessed that you have gifted them with being their mom! These children definitely are not going to be growing up as victims but as human beings with great individualistic qualities – how cool is that!

  41. elkemurphy said:

    Happy Easter!

    – Just wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the ‘Very Inspiring Blogger Award’ (http://elkemurphy.wordpress.com/2013/03/31/very-inspiring-blogger-award/)
    Thank you for being an inspiration!
    Elke

    • Thank you so much for the honor. Unfortunately, I will have to decline. My brain is so full of things to do that I can only manage one post a week, and would not be able to complete the requirements for the award. I do appreciate the thought, though!

      • elkemurphy said:

        No problem! I so understand. Thank you for your honesty! I appreciate that you take care of your self and your energy level. That’s most important.
        Wishing you all the energy you need!
        Elke

  42. What a terrific, inspiring blog! I literally laughed and cried. Thank you for sharing your wonderful family.

    I’ve learned over the years that kids process things at their own pace. So when my daughter asked if the Tooth Fairy was real, I cautiously replied, “What do you think?” She considered it. “Nah, I don’t think she’s real.” Just as I was about to agree with her, she added, “It must really be Santa!”

  43. Oh, wow. My mouth dropped open as I read on and on – I am not cut out to do the things you do and I’m so glad that there are people like you out there who ARE cut out to do it! I was never encouraged to believe in Santa/the Easter bunny, etc. We were, however, raised to enjoy pretending about them. that’s how I’m raising my kids, too – they KNOW that Santa etc. is not real, but we pretend that he is – and they are very clear – as was I at their age – that it’s just “a fun pretend” as my mom used to say. it works for us! It encourages their imagination…but it keeps the lies away!

  44. summerfitzgerald said:

    Wow! During my early career I worked with deafblind people on a voluntary basis & since then have supported Deaf people – some of whom have had mental health issues, minimal language skills, or learning disabilities – in a variety of settings, but always with a focus on communication. I cannot begin to appreciate your life and maybe I’m speaking out of turn for saying so. You must be an incredible person (and I’m not saying that in the way that people used to insinuate that I must have a heart of gold/be an angel for doing my job, I always put them straight!); it must take some patience and interpersonal skills to raise a family with such diverse needs. I’m sure it’s also hugely rewarding. Thanks for sharing.

    • I kind of grew up communicating with my brother who was deaf/blind and developmentally delayed. After him, my kiddos are easy!
      Thanks for reading!

      • summerfitzgerald said:

        Ah, it’s in the blood 🙂 I’m going to have to change my gravatar (I’m such a luddite!)

  45. I Love Your Easter Post!!

  46. Life is a ‘roller coaster’ for you me thinks! Keep up the good work! My children still believe at 9 and 11. I’m sure they will be understanding when they finally work it out as I probably live in fairyland some of the time anyway. They’ve picked that up about me so should just continue on the same, as I wont change! I don’t THINK I will have raised scarred children. But your post does make me reassess things. Thanks for visiting my blog today. I look forward to your future posts! Take care 🙂

    • Oh….I didn’t mean to scare you about raising scarred children. It was because of my children’s emotional problems that it was a problem. And, like you said, kiddos get cues from their parents, and it sounds like you may be just the type of mother for whom the concept of Santa and the Easter Bunny is normal!
      Thanks for commenting!

  47. The Easter Bunny is female? My world view has officially collapsed *grin*

  48. You are a wonderful story telling – what an amazing family life you have. Your kids are all very lucky to have ended up in such a complex but laughter filled family. Santa has a lot to answer for – the Easter bunny is a much less stress filled icon to hold onto. Most people can afford a few eggs and most parents don’t want the Easter bunny to leave too much chocolate for their own sanity. Keep on blogging on with your inspirational story.

  49. musklicker said:

    I find your stories fascinating. Thank you for sharing.

  50. Wow i must say this is a very interesting! i really enjoyed reading about this and the fact that my son is really on the edge about santa it makes me feel like i can relate! I only have 2 children but one is 18 and the other is 8 and i will tsay that it much easier when the myth is finally revealled! God bless you you sound like a wonderfull person and i can not wait to read more of your blog!

  51. Such a great reminder about perspective and walking in other’s shoes….. thank you. Cheers! Megan

  52. I struggle with this as a Jewish mother of Jewish kids with Christian in-laws. I adore my mother-in-law, and I know she enjoys sharing Santa traditions with the kids. But I never know what to say when my daughter asks me things about Santa. I feel like I’m not being fair to my husband’s family if I tell her, but I don’t want to perpetuate something that is just not part of Judaism. Thoughts?

    Thank you for stopping by my blog! I’m glad you liked my post, because you are an inspiration! Thank you for letting us into your life; hopefully we help you deal with what must be a simultaneously wonderful and difficult family!

    • I can understand your dilemma. As I mentioned in another comment, I did not mean to dismiss Santa altogether, the concept of him did not work for my family of children with disabilities. If I were to do it again, I would go much more lightly. No pictures with Santa, letters to him, talk about how he sees how the children are behaving, no lists of gifts, (what parent can ever provide that list anyway,) and no cookies and milk or food for the reindeer. I would have downplayed him, but still let his presents show up under the tree. I think it is all the extraneous lies that add to the problem. One big lie is enough, but if it is buoyed by 10 little lies of support, then it makes it that much more “real” to the kids.
      So, I would let grandma have her fun at Christmas, just not go overboard with it.

      • Thanks for responding! I definitely agree. The issue lies in the compromise – what defines going overboard? They leave out cookies, milk and a note, they go outside and leave food for the reindeer, they track Santa’s progress with NORAD, and of course Santa’s presents don’t show up until every kid is asleep. I’m hesitant to ask her to stop doing anything because she really is a wonderful Mimi and mother-in-law and I know it brings her joy. But…well, you know. I’m open to suggestions. Maybe I’ll do a post in my blog and see who shows up! 🙂

      • If Santa isn’t part of ever conversation every day before Christmas, it might be fine. I would let Mimi do whatever she wants because good Mimi’s are hard to come by!

      • Very true! And my daughter is so amazingly intuitive and perceptive that she’ll probably pick up on the truth pretty early. I’m very vague and noncommittal when she asks me questions about Santa, and I NEVER confirm his existence. Thanks again for your help!

    • Yocheved said:

      Hey there! I’m Orthodox, and we make sure that we’re so busy appreciating our own culture that no one had time to worry about secular holidays. My daughter feels sorry for other kids who only get ONE day of holidays, and she gets 8! They may get Halloween, but we get Simchas Torah for the candy, PLUS Purim for costumes. Not to mention all the excitement of Shavuos, Succot, Rosh Hashana, etc. The other kids don’t get that, so she feels pretty special. Not only that, but when all the Easter candy is half off, we stock up for Shabbos treats. Did you know that most Easter candy has an OU on it? LOL! A sign of the times, I suppose. 😀

      As for your inlaws, just let your kiddo know that it’s a fun thing for them to pretend, and to go along with it for the fun. Make sure she knows that it’s just play, though.

      I’m going to hop over to your blog and see what’s going on. See you there!

  53. I am in my early twenties, so I do not yet have children of my own, but I have often wondered whether I would perpetuate the Santa myth with children of my own or not. I do think it makes Christmas more magical for children, but I can see how it would lead to distrust when they discover that it was me (and my partner) all along. H’m… Food for thought…

    In any case, I found your post to be compelling, touching, humorous and a whole bunch of other things. You sound like a great mother.

    You have a new follower in me.

    • Thank you for your kind words.
      I’m not sure I would suggest parents NOT perpetuate the myths…I was just commenting on how it backfired with my children.
      If you are going to do it, I think the key is to do it in moderation…not make TOOOOOO much of a big deal out of it!
      Anyway, welcome!!!
      Thanks for reading!

  54. We aren’t Christian and trying to explain to the kids that Easter really isn’t on the list of things to do was completely weird this year. They were only interested in candy and I knew that any explanation of Easter as a Christian holiday or Easter with Pagan roots was going to be met with groans and glazed over eyes.

    But, Nana and Grandad (who are Christian) sufficiently spoiled them, which was fine. We’ve never gone out of our way to perpetuate the Santa myth for the exact reasons you’ve discussed here…plus the fact that I bust my hump every day to earn the money that pays for the gifts that don’t seem to be appreciated ANYWAY, so why should I give that dude the credit!?

  55. Wonderful read! A heartfelt thank you for what you are doing for those children, Most people would never realize the lengths you are going to, to ensure that they each get what they need in a family. I look forward to reading more of your writing in the future!

  56. LOL Love it – Christmas must be a blast in your house! I’d love to be a fly on the wall 😉

  57. That is really complicated.

  58. Your blog is so uplifting 🙂
    Thank you for sharing all these wonderful insights.
    You’re an angel.

    Until tomorrow ~ Live life, love life
    dx

  59. Wow, 5 kids! And each with a different challenge! Hats off to you.

    I was raised in a family that didn’t do Santa or any of those “to be believed” guys, so when my kids came along I followed suit. Raising my kids in India has eliminated much of the belief pressure since Santa and the Easter Bunny and such are seen as foreign traditions and aren’t seen much outside of commercial advertising.
    As my kids got older and began watching movies with Santa, I just continued to reiterate that he wasn’t real. I told them that he was part of the magic of Christmas but was as real as Mickey Mouse, in other words, like a story character. Santa costumes are pretty crummy here, with plastic masks, so any time they have seen someone dressed as Santa, they knew it was just a costume.
    I feel there is no reason to tell children something is real when it isn’t. Why lie to them and then have them find out later and feel so bad? Someday though, after we make our move to Canada, I will have to explain to them that some kids do believe in Santa and teach them how to respect that and not ruin it for them.

    • I am so glad that you commented because it is great to hear from someone from another country! I do blame the commercialism here, and the “Santa’s” and “Easter Bunnies” at every mall. However, I see such horrible costumes that I often wonder why our kiddos believe at all. (ESPECIALLY those awful beards!)

  60. I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds the whole Father Christmas/Santa thing a complete nightmare. This year is the first year my two have had ‘belief’ at 2 and 4. It was lovely to see how excited they were that Santa had been (even if the day did start at 3am) but they ask so many questions and I feel that I lie and lie and lie. – Yes he comes down the chimney by magic, yes he is watching all the time, he’s on holiday now, I don’t know on a beach probably. Yes the reindeer are on holiday too. Yes he’ll be back for Christmas.

    It’s April and they still start most days asking when he’ll be back. My 4yo wrote a list to him the other day. It’s only Easter! (Thankfully we don’t have other belief figures like the Easter Bunny: we haven’t got to the tooth fairy yet.)

    I used to think I wanted my kids to believe for a long time but now I’m not so sure. They’re smart kids, I’m certain they’ll figure it out pretty quickly (if Granddad doesn’t let it slip anyway, like he nearly did this year) and then the endless lying can stop and we’ll all be happier.

  61. I love this post and can relate on many levels! Now what about the tooth fairy…?

  62. wonderful blog… Though not a Christian, but I studied in a Convent school in India and this blog really brought all the good memories of Easter celebrated in my school. We used to Easter Eggs a,d lots of chocolates… thank you for this blog

  63. Gee, were you a sister I forgot I had? Your Christmases sound a lot like mine were! Except my dad brought home little soaps from his trips. I wish it had been shampoo! I remember times we were so poor there wasn’t any money for shampoo and we had to clean our long hair with bar soap and brush our teeth with baking soda. I hate baking soda toothpaste to this day!

    Your stories of your kids’ views of Santa are so touching! How could you have ever guessed how they’d be affected? And yes, I know what it is to have a kid repeatedly bring up some long-ago parental failing. No, we weren’t perfect parents, and we’d sure change it if we could, but all we can do now is forgive ourselves and give ourselves the same grace God gives us–even if our child can’t!

    • YES! I used baking soda also to brush my teeth. And used regular soap to wash my hair. Once a week when I was allowed to take a bath, (although I was generally encouraged to go swimming instead…)
      I love the name of your blog…my grandson calls me “Mimi”, (but I don’t have much of a wardrobe!)

      • I don’t have much of a wardrobe, either, since we moved to the farm–mostly junky T’s and sweat pants! The wardrobe my blog is about is the Wardrobe upstairs in the Narnia addition we built for our kids and grandkids when they visit, all based on C. S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and other books in the series.

  64. A very funny post. I don’t know how you manage, but from reading your posts, making your children smile is what makes you smile and that is how you do. I look forward to reading more.

  65. bwharold said:

    I’m glad to see someone who understands normalcy comes in all shapes and sizes. Love is a precious gift you have been blessed with in spades! I enjoy your work.

  66. Oops my boy is a normal 3yr old and for two nights the sandman was fun. The next few he was to terrified to sleep because of the strange man who would enter our room called the sandman.

    As for santa he was more excited as to whether he ate his biscuits and drank his milk than the gifts santa had left.

    • That’s the joy of leaving biscuits and milk for Santa. Now-a-days they the kids even leave out “reindeer food”. Next thing you know, there will be reindeer droppings!

  67. We were told from day one that Santa was a nice story but not real, I think this is a fantastic idea (my mom always joked she didn’t want Santa to get the limelight) especially if you can’t afford many gifts for your children. Only problem is trying to get your little kids to allow other little kids to believe in Santa without squashing it for them! Haha.

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