21 answers

Santa Claus and "Toys for Tots"

Hi Moms,

I read a recent post about what to tell kids about Santa when they are old enough to question him, and I love all those moms and families who create the magic for as long as possible, and even after the "truth" is known, keep up the magic for others. I was a believer for a long, long time myself (and still am--Santa even visits my husband and me)--but here's my question, what do you say to your kids about why you are buying toys for "Toys for Tots" and church toy drives, etc. if Santa is supposed to bring gifts??? I can't remember what my own parents told me about that issue...

Thanks!

1 mom found this helpful

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So What Happened?™

Thanks, Moms! What great and prompt responses! I like the idea of emphasizing that we are helping the community and other children's parents when we give to "Toys for Tots"--thus we are adding to Santa--I think that does not take away from the magic of Santa--and it is completely reasonable that we would help other families who need help.

As for the question of Santa giving gifts to "naughty" children--that is a toughie. (I never liked thinking about Santa in that way, especially since I had a grandfather who received nothing for Christmas many times, and concluded that he was "naughty." As an adult, that grandfather was a very generous Santa himself...). If that comes up, I think I will try to explain that only Jesus sees the inside of our hearts and knows if we are really naughty or not, and that Jesus forgives our naughtiness and provides opportunities for us to repair that naughtiness, which others may not see or know about. When I was a teacher, it helped me to remember that every child in my classroom had a mom, grandmother, or aunt who thought that the sun rose and set with that child--no matter what behavior I was seeing or not seeing. Perhaps it would help to say that "naughty" children might actually be hurt or sad children, and so if Santa gives to them, he is not rewarding their bad behavior, but perhaps giving to who they truly are on the inside.

Merry Christmas!
:-) D.

Featured Answers

I would just tell them that not all parents are able to buy presents for their children. They get gifts from Santa, and from parents.

J.

2 moms found this helpful

I can't say I've faced this question just yet as my son is only 4, but one thought that came to mind is the following:

The gifts we share with these organizations are so that the parents can provide a gift for their children. Not all parents have enough money to buy something for their kids, and it makes them very sad. By donating the toys, the parents themselves are able to give their children a Christmas gift.

Perhaps by separating it from Santa, it will be better received. And it's the truth anyway as most of the organizations are providing the gifts so that the parents have something to share with their children on Christmas morning. I'd emphasize the parents role rather than the Santa aspect. You can always say you don't know but Santa may very well bring them gifts as well, but that these are so that the parents have gifts to share with their little ones.

Hope that helps! Just my two cents! :O)

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers

We always told our kids we were buying gifts "for Santa to take" to the kids being served by the charity. None of the 4 ever questioned why Santa needed help; they were delighted to be helping him.

You didn't ask, but as an aside I have to tell you how I felt as a child. I understand that my experience and feelings are different than many people have, but I'm also sure there are many more like me.

We didn't have much money when I was growing up, but my parents would rather have died than accepted any kind of charity or help, even with food. If we did without, that was better than accepting handouts. In general, I still (I'm 42) believe rather firmly in those principals, and I understood and didn't resent that as a kid. Self reliance is good. And, I never expected extravagent birthday gifts and never had a party, because I knew we couldn't afford it.

Because Santa was Santa, though, I didn't apply that same line of thinking. He was outside the concerns of my parents' income. Anybody rich enough to give to the whole world surely had no money issues, I thought. Every year, I would ask Santa for something I knew my parents could never afford in a million years, because I knew Santa didn't have that problem.

Every year, I would be disappointed. Santa never brought what I asked for. All the adults told the kids, "If you're good, Santa will bring you presents. If you're bad, you go on the naughty list and he won't come." I figured I'd been pretty good, and I couldn't understand why Santa didn't think so. Then, when I found out that the kids at school who were bullies, liars and who cheated on their schoolwork got the things I had asked for, it made no sense to me. Eventually I decided that Santa was like everyone else, and he thought you were a better person if you were rich. Needless to say, this lessened the "magic" considerably.

Charity drives REALLY confused me. If those kids were good, Santa would bring them gifts. If Santa thought they were too bad to receive anything, why were other people giving them anything? They didn't deserve it, I was sure.

I was fairly "old" by the time I figured out what was happening. I was 9 when I discovered that "Santa," who came to our extended family Christmas Eve party, was my uncle in a costume. I spent a couple of years deeply hurt that my parents hadn't trusted me with the truth.

Then, everything started to make so much more sense. I realized that Santa didn't hate poor kids. I realized why poor parents were desperate for gifts for their kids. It all made sense.

When I had children, I told them the historical stories about St. Nicholas, and then I told them that today, ANYONE who wants to put on the suit and give without expecting anything back can be Santa. It's a job, I told them, not an individual. Santa still visits my extended family party, and each child gets a gift from him. That's the only gift from Santa they receive. Everything else is labelled "from Mom and Dad." (My 14 year old was surprized to finally learn that we provided Santa with those gifts. ;P)

When they were small and asked why Santa brought their friends more than one gift, we pointed out that they got roughly the same number of gifts as their friends, but we bought most of theirs. They were OK with this. We occasionally had Christmas Eve rituals like spreading "reindeer food" (oatmeal) in the yard, because "tonight is the night Santa visits the most people."

I have found so much more joy in Santa as an adult. And my kids (two are grown, one is a teen, one is 10) love getting to "play Santa" or "be Santa" for someone less fortunate. One of our most cherished traditions is choosing children off the Angel Tree, and my youngsters are always the ones, especially during their elementary school years, to say, "Can't we get this one, too? They want (skates/clothes/Barbies/whatever). We can afford that!" :)

However you explain it or do it, helping others will bring the most holiday joy!

4 moms found this helpful

I have hold my kids that the spirit of "giving' is a blessing you bestow to others.

It's not waiting for Santa to give...People of the community take care of each other. You can give can goods and toys all througout the year.

M.

3 moms found this helpful

It is a very wonderful thing that you are doing. Teaching your children about generosity toward others is what the holiday season is all about. I would just tell your children about giving to others in general and not relate it to Santa Claus at all. You can do it by doing something throughout the year for others. Tell your children that there are some children who don't have any food/clothes/toys and that that is the reason you buy or donate to them. Maybe bring your children once a month to Salvation Army or Goodwill to donate old toys, etc. I just tell my child that we are going there to give away some of his old toys to the babies that don't have any. He just turned four, but he understands the concept. I hope you and your family have a happy holiday season.

2 moms found this helpful

I can't say I've faced this question just yet as my son is only 4, but one thought that came to mind is the following:

The gifts we share with these organizations are so that the parents can provide a gift for their children. Not all parents have enough money to buy something for their kids, and it makes them very sad. By donating the toys, the parents themselves are able to give their children a Christmas gift.

Perhaps by separating it from Santa, it will be better received. And it's the truth anyway as most of the organizations are providing the gifts so that the parents have something to share with their children on Christmas morning. I'd emphasize the parents role rather than the Santa aspect. You can always say you don't know but Santa may very well bring them gifts as well, but that these are so that the parents have gifts to share with their little ones.

Hope that helps! Just my two cents! :O)

2 moms found this helpful

My Mom used to tell us that there were kids in the world who's parents couldn't afford presents for there kids and so that Santa's gifts weren't the only presents on Christmas day...and we had SO MUCH, we were helping their parents give them a good Christmas. It's more about helping a family and not about playing Santa...so, there isn't the confusion.

It worked for us, and my sister and I today still donate to 'Toys for Tots' every year.

Happy Holidays.

2 moms found this helpful

I would just tell them that not all parents are able to buy presents for their children. They get gifts from Santa, and from parents.

J.

2 moms found this helpful

hi D.,

you simply tell them that some families are not as blessed as "we are" and we are "giving" to share love during the holiday season, and if they question about Santa going to visit them you can tell them yes he will visit but you want to do alittle bit extra to help santa out.

btw, we believe in santa and my son is 23 now..... its the magic of the christmas/holiday season :) and puts a smile on everyones face!

1 mom found this helpful

I wouldn't bring it up unless asked about it. My kids never asked, but if they did I would simply say that some kids don't have grandparents and family to give them things so this is just to help those with less then us. Remember kids like the short & sweet answer. Plus dragging out an answer can cause for more questions. This goes for the facts of life and puberty, only answer the question they are asking about until you think they truly need to know. J.

1 mom found this helpful

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