A social worker’s plea to parents about expensive Santa gifts is going viral
Kids love getting gifts from Santa, but should parents put more thought into which presents are “from Santa” and which ones are from them? That’s what social worker Megan Dunn has suggested in a now-viral Facebook post in which she asks parents to consider the message it sends children from families without the means to give big gifts.
Last week, Dunn, who works for the Kentucky Family Preservation Program, wrote a post about the effect it has on kids from families who don’t have as much money when their peers receive expensive presents “from Santa.”
In her post, Dunn talks about the families she works with who can’t afford to buy their kids high-ticket items like iPads. When their kids get less-expensive toys, they think that Santa decided that was all they deserved: “This is the second year I’ve had a parent cry to me telling me that their kid asked if they weren’t good enough or if Santa didn’t like them as much. Breaks my heart for the parents and the kids.”
What do we tell kids about Santa? We tell them that he has a list of naughty kids and nice kids. We warn them that he knows if they’ve been bad or good and gives out presents accordingly. So if Santa gives Billy a pair of socks while his friend Jimmy gets a Playstation, what message does that send to a five-year-old? It tells them that Santa, who can travel the world overnight with flying reindeer and has access to all the presents in the world, chose to give them those presents. And Santa would only have made that choice if Jimmy was “better” than Billy.
Dunn’s plea is simple: just put Santa’s name on the less expensive presents. It’s a small thing parents can do that could make an enormous difference to their children’s classmates when they get back to school and start talking about what they got for Christmas (which of course, parents should be telling their kids to be careful about in the first place). “I cannot stress this enough,” Dunn wrote, “STOP TELLING YOUR SANTA AGE KIDS THAT THEIR IPADS, AND IPHONES, AND 200 DOLLAR TOYS ARE FROM SANTA. CAUSE SOME FAMILIES CANT AFFORD THAT…Leave the less expensive gifts from Santa. Be blessed you can afford what others cannot.”
Facebook commenters had a range of responses to Dunn’s post. Among the surprisingly large number of Santa Truthers (“This is what happens when parents lie to their kids about Santa!”), there were many who thanked her for pointing out an issue they’d never considered before:
Others, however, took offense to her post and showed a remarkable lack of empathy towards the children of families without the money to do a big Christmas:
Dunn tells Scary Mommy that the negative reactions to her post have actually brought out a lot of good. “Several people in opposition stated those who were in need should simply ‘save a dollar a day starting December 26.’ What they don’t realize is for many, that’s not feasible. So as kind of a lighthearted dig, we created a name for it. ‘Santa’s piggy bank’ is a rainy day fund for unexpected life events to purchase Christmas for children and families in need.”
This time of year can be difficult for Dunn considering the families she works with. “I began to almost dread Christmas time because my heart felt so heavy for these families. I’m so grateful for the attention this has generated because it has allowed me to start the Santa fund and we’ve helped families from every state and received donations from other countries.”
Happily, the fundraising is going well. “I have been matching people cross country donating to others cross country. We are at over $11,000 in three days,” Dunn shares.
Christmas is supposed to be about love, joy, and family. And if doing something as small as changing the name on a card is enough to make this time of year a bit easier on families that struggle, it’s literally the least we can do.