One of my mom friends who is Jewish is having a hard time explaining to her four-year-old that Santa isn’t stopping by her house this year. No matter what she tells her child, the kid is not buying it. This girl wants her toys from Santa!

Living in a multicultural community, these issues are bound to come up. Even though I grew up Jewish, there’s something about Santa that even excites me. I keep pointing to his images when I’m with my toddler saying, “Wow look at Santa!” He’s not too thrilled though. When a Santa came up to him at the super market with a peppermint cane, my boy went into hysterics. Now every time he see an image of the old sweet man, he cries, “I don’t like Santa!”

Another mom I know, who grew up in a Christian town, and recently moved to our hood, was frank with me sharing her concerns that Jewish kids might ruin Christmas for her child, revealing the secret that Santa doesn’t exist. Yes, that could be crushing.

All these holiday conundrums! What’s a family to do? Here are some ideas:

  • Don’t tell your kids that Santa is a lie because it might ruin the holidays for other children. Instead you might want to tell your kids he visits non-Jews or homes of kids who need gifts.
  • Remind kids that Chanukah lasts 8 days, while Christmas lasts one. In some homes, this might even include 8 days of gifts too. Plus, there are dreidels, chocolate coins, potato latkes and jelly doughnuts. I mean what can be better? I know … still not Santa.
  • Tell the real story of Saint Nicholas, who so kind and generous, giving gold to families in need and was named a Saint. Read up on his history and tell his real story.
  • Remember this sensitive, irrational time among your Jewish 3 and 4 year-olds is temporary. Well, unless your Jerry Seinfeld. In a year or two they will begin to understand that Santa isn’t all that, and will take pride in their dreidel spinning.

Personally, even though I was raised Jewish, if my kid was making a fuss, I would get him gifts from Santa. I feel like there is room for all religions and beliefs in my house hold. But that’s just me! My mother told me the same thing happened with my brother when he was a child and the morning of Christmas she left a dozen gifts in their living room from Santa. He was beyond thrilled. Just because he had that experience at a young age, doesn’t mean he rejected his Jewish identity later in life. He’s actually a much better Jew than I am!

With or without Santa, I hope you are able to enjoy a beautiful holiday filled with gifts, treats and sweets with your family and friends. May it be a Merry Christmas and Happy Chanuka!