The Montalbano Framework Development:
In the post titled Framework for Family, I talked about how Monty and I realized we had the opportunity to raise our children VERY differently than most people. We put a great deal of thought into different aspects of our family. We discussed discipline, homework, chores, and college. Another thing we talked about was Santa Claus.
Santa Claus: to believe or not to believe?
Santa? Really? We were attending a newlywed small group at our church, and one night the topic of Santa Claus was raised. The five couples present discussed this issue quite vigorously, and some left angry with their spouse over Santa. There were actual arguments about whether or not these couples would “play” Santa to their yet-to-be-conceived children.
That night, we hadn’t yet talked about this issue, so we weren’t arguing. We just talked it out, and the decision we made about Santa became a basic part of the fabric of our family. We decided we would NOT have “Santa Claus” as part of our traditions at Christmas.
No, we aren’t Grinch-y. We have big, wonderful Christmas holidays full of traditions we have developed over time. We decorate, give each other gifts, give to charity, and celebrate – and we do it all BIG! We just never told the children Santa Claus brought them this or that gift under the tree, or that Santa knew when they’ve been bad. We have taught them to behave well, because it’s the right thing to do, not because a would-be jolly gift-giver has supernatural knowledge of their behavior and would withhold presents if they were naughty. The decision we made was based on the premise that we did not want to lie to our children, even to bring them the fantasy of Santa (or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy). Another factor in the decision was that I remember the year I figured out the truth about Santa Claus, and it was a difficult pill to swallow. I know my parents wanted me to have magical holidays, and Santa was their way to provide that, but it caused me to distrust them for a time.
We honor Santa Claus: he was a man who gave gifts to poor children. We watched Christmas movies about “believing” in Santa, but we never perpetuated the lie. Funny enough, our children each decided to believe in Santa anyway (for a time). It worked itself out just fine. They came into that belief on their own, and they didn’t have the “my parent lied to me” discovery when they figured out the truth.
We both had a previous marriage.
The Santa decision helped us define an important character trait of a Montalbano: truthfulness. We answer questions truthfully (to whatever degree of detail is age-appropriate). So, when old photo albums were looked through, we truthfully answered the question, “Who is that?” Our children knew from an early age: Dad had a first wife, and Mom had a first husband.
So, Montalbanos tell the truth. We don’t use the truth as a cruel weapon, but we speak the truth in love.
What are some other character traits of Montalbanos?
Togetherness: family comes first – Montalbanos believe in the importance of family! Family comes before friends–if there is a conflict in events, family events take first priority.
Traditions and Hospitality – We create memories together, and we invite people to join our family for meals and celebrations. Montalbanos put family first, and we invite friends to join us.
Training/Education – It is vitally important to think, read, and learn constantly throughout our entire lives. Montalbanos are life-long learners.
Work Ethic/Doing Chores – Montalbanos are hard workers. Doing work, accomplishing tasks, and having responsibilities gives us a sense of self-worth.
I’ll explore these and other elements of the Montalbano Framework in future posts. That’s all for now!