So. Santa, with kids. Or one kid, anyway. For now. A little half-German kid growing up in the US while we try to preserve his multicultural, multilingual heritage. Which includes two quite different, but not necessarily opposed, stories about Santa.
Here in the US, as I will assume that you all know, Santa comes down the chimney late at night on Christmas Eve. Kids wake up on Christmas morning to find their stockings full of gifts from Santa. I grew up with the philosophy that stocking gifts were from Santa and gifts under the tree, which were more major, were from parents, and I imagine we'll stick with a similar philosophy with Piglet.
But in Germany... it's a little different. First of all, Santa and Christmas are separated. Santa comes on St. Nicholas Day, which is December 6. He doesn't come down the chimney and he doesn't come in the middle of the night. Instead, apparently he sneaks into the house around dusk, via an unspecified entrance (most likely the front door). He leaves small gifts--such as fruit and candy and toy cars and little games--in the hallway or other currently unoccupied area of the house. Then, when Christmas itself arrives, it really starts on Christmas Eve. Families go to church on the evening of December 24, and when they get home from church, they exchange gifts. By the time Christmas Day itself actually arrives, the gift exchange is over, and only the meal remains.
So. As you can see, the traditions are a tad bit different between the two countries. And the question for us is how we're going to reconcile these traditions to create our own little family traditions for our own little multicultural family.
Here's what we know: Santa will come on Christmas Eve, and Piglet will open gifts in his stocking the next day, on Christmas morning. Here's what we almost definitely know: Piglet will open nearly all of his other gifts on Christmas morning as well. I am being very insistent on this point. Christmas morning is a tradition I am not willing to give up, despite Torsten's point that Christmas Eve gift-opening is just as exciting. Plus, Santa comes overnight, so Christmas Eve gift-opening wouldn't work. And, since we don't go to church, we would miss the whole concept of "Christmas Eve church trip followed by gift exchange" anyway.
However, Torsten is a big fan of gift opening on Christmas Eve. So maybe we will find some kind of compromise and have Piglet open one or two gifts on Christmas Eve, and the rest the next morning. As it is, we are going to have to spread out the gift-giving a bit, because we also plan to celebrate Chanukah. So I would have no problem with that, as a concession to the German tradition. But I just will not give up the Christmas morning tradition, and Torsten agrees that it makes the most sense to keep the tradition consistent with the country, so we'll likely stick with that arrangement.
But then the question is... what about German Santa? We've already agreed that Santa will definitely come on Christmas Eve, American-style. But... is it outrageous to think that maybe he could come on St. Nicholas Day too? I mean, yes, Piglet would be the only one of his friends who got TWO visits from Santa, and that might cause some confusion, but I'm sure we could give him some sort of explanation about how Santa visits Germany and the accompanying diaspora on December 6, and he'll be back for all of Piglet's American friends in a few short weeks. We could figure it out, is my point.
But maybe there are logistics we're overlooking? Or maybe it's just ridiculous and overblown to have your kid get two trips from Santa every year? Even though both times Santa brings small gifts, nothing outrageous or expensive? Or maybe it would be too complicated or somehow reduce the specialness factor if Santa shows up twice? Or just confusing to the kid, like OK, Santa came, but also, he'll be back? I don't know. This is a point that we just haven't figured out yet. I mean, we're not in a rush since it will be a good two years at least before Piglet even begins to understand the concept of Santa, but it is sort of a perplexing issue.
Also, I want to know how you celebrated the holidays when you were growing up, and how you celebrate them now. What were your family's traditions? Was Santa involved? If so, what was the story behind it and what kind of gifts did he bring? How are the holiday traditions you observe with your adult family different from the traditions you observed as a kid?
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