Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Truth about Santa Claus

When I had my first child, I couldn't help but wonder, even when she was still a baby, when was the best time to tell her the truth about Santa Claus. My own discovery that Santa is pretend is one of those unpleasantries of my childhood. You see, my mother had fallen asleep before putting the presents out. So when we woke up excited to see what Santa had left for us, there was nothing. I thought that surely I had awakened early, so I went back upstairs to my room. But then I heard my mother walking around. (It couldn't have been Santa, because he wouldn't be upstairs.) I opened my door to see my mother with an armful of presents going around the corner toward the living room where the Christmas tree was.

I was so disappointed and felt really betrayed. Of course, I reasoned that it should not have bothered me so. After all, I now understood why Santa's writing looked like my mother's. But the experience nevertheless left me with an empty sort of feeling.

So I have wondered if I would have felt differently if I had found out in another way. I'm sure if my mother had sat me down to break the news, it would have been better than finding out through her mistake. But after much thought, I have not been able to imagine a scenario where finding out that Santa Claus is not real is a good experience after having believed in him.

So before my oldest could understand about Santa Claus, I decided that I would always tell her the truth. We would pretend right along with everyone else that he was real. She would get presents from Santa and be allowed to visit the mall Santas, but I would tell her that it was pretend. The real benefit behind this decision is that when I tell her about God, she knows that He is not pretend. Perhaps she may someday disagree with me, but she will know that I believe in God and was not putting on a show for her sake.

Grasshopper is now 4yo, and I have not had a problem with this decision, yet. When she has expressed interest in seeing the mall Santa, we go and stand in line and wait our turn. But when she gets close and realizes that he is nothing more than a stranger to her, she wants to leave, and we do. (I want her to trust those instincts.) People ask her about Santa coming and what she wants, and I tell her that they are pretending and that she can pretend along with them. Since she loves to pretend, it all works out quite nicely. Surely, there will come a time when she is telling her "believing" friends that Santa is not real, and maybe those parents will not be too pleased with me. But for now, I am quite comfortable with my decision to be truthful with my kids.


  1. I wholeheartedly agree. That's that tack we have taken with our own children. I honestly have never seen the point of spending all that time convincing your child that Santa is real, when they will eventually find out you weren't being honest with them. I want my children to trust what I say. It's of eternal importance!

    Joy @ Five J's

  2. Thanks so much for your comment. It is good to know that I am not the only one that feels this way. You said it well--that truth and trust are of eternal importance, especially when it comes to our children.

  3. what a great post... my husband and i JUST talked about this last night.. we were quite young when we started having kids and we just kind of went right into pretending santa was real.... now that our kids are 8,7, and 5 we are trying to find ways to let them know that it is fun to believe in santa but that not everyone believes in him, etc. we talked last night, my hubby and i about how horrible i felt when my parents told me santa wasnt real, that i felt lied too, and then wondered whether they had lied to me about God too... i am amazed that i found this post today! thank you so much!!! i cant wait to show it to my husband and hopefully we can continue to tell the kids that the mall santas arent real, they know that, and find a way to keep leading into the "discussion" in a good way. if i had it to do all over.... lol ;)

  4. This is the same approach my husband and I have taken with our kids, except that we don't even do gifts from Santa. My older kids (almost 8 and almost 6)--really get into the pretend idea and seem to understand that other children believe he's real, so they've never "ruined" it for any other children. (We've practiced what they can say in different situations.) It's REALLY good to see that others are approaching it in a similar way! Thanks for sharing!


Latter-day Homeschooling