Friday, December 12, 2008

The Truth About Santa

Last year, at eight years old, my oldest was questioning if Santa was the real deal. One minute he would ask, "Is Santa for real?" and then the next he would comment, "When Santa comes...." He was confused. After listening to "I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus," he asked if Santa was the dad (since she was kissing Santa it must mean it was her husband.) I put him out of his misery and confusion and told him it was truly the dad. In turn he replied, "So do you and dad put the toys in the stocking?" I replied with a positive. He stared out the window for awhile pondering and digesting the big revelation and then his piercing question came out of his mouth, "How do you feel about lying to me for all of these years?" Oh, that was a bit hard hitting and I suddenly felt guilty for going along with the lie for so long.

My younger son still believes in Santa - and there is no confusion in his mind. He is so certain there is a Santa and that Elves put the goodies in the Advent calendar ("it has to be elves, because who else has hands small enough to put it in those smalled boxes.") Now we don't play along with the Fairy Tale. We don't encourage thoughts of Santa sliding down the chimney, nor do we dissuade them. Our youngest hears the songs of "Santa Coming To Town" and is sure he will be here. Now when my older son hears his brother rattle on of his excitement of Santa and his reindeer, he will just look at him and not comment or tease. Nor does he wink at us revealing he is in the know. He just listens.

So we tell our kids not to lie, not even a white lie, but yet we let them believe something other than the truth. Several years ago there was a good man named St. Nick who was kind to others and thus began a Fairy Tale that lives on in so many children's hearts. Yes hearts. Many honestly love Santa.

If you have kids, how do you handle the lie of Santa? What are your thoughts of lying to our children about something they won't find until almost ten years old for some. How did your children find out about Santa and at what age? Or, how and when do you stop believing in the jolly old man with the red outfit? How do you portray Santa Claus in your household?


  1. I'm interested on what others have to say on the subject. I was raised always knowing the truth about Christmas and Easter. However, I have chosen to let my own children believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny purely out of the innocence of their childhood. I believe this adds a certain special touch to their childhood memories. Of course, as a Christian I have made sure they know the holidays are a significant reminder of our Savior. But we've also let them believe in the pagan figures. With our eldest having just turned eight, I imagine these days are numbered anyhow.

    I would love to hear if others who have older children, or even adults, have to say when they reflect on how it was handled in their upbringing. Does trust play a role after the truth is revealed? Or, does the magic of the memories make it endearing and part of the childhood experience? I cannot relate due to my own experience, but wonder if my children will be affected in this way. I had never thought about it until now.

  2. Yep, the "tooth fairy" was let out of the bag this year at our house....

  3. What about the lies are saying when you say you believe in God and obey God yet speed on the road, roll through a stop sign?

    “Romans 13 (New International Version)
    Submission to the Authorities
    1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

    And since Santa Claus is a magnification of a real person who was raised to sainthood
    “Saint Nicholas of Myra is the primary inspiration for the Christian figure of Santa Claus. He was a 4th-century Greek Christian bishop of Myra in Lycia, a province of the Byzantine Anatolia, now in Turkey. Nicholas was famous for his generous gifts to the poor, in particular presenting the three impoverished daughters of a pious Christian with dowries so that they would not have to become prostitutes. He was very religious from an early age and devoted his life entirely to Christianity.”

    “There has long been opposition to teaching children to believe in Santa Claus. Some Christians say the Santa tradition detracts from the religious origins and purpose of Christmas. Other critics feel that Santa Claus is an elaborate lie, and that it is unethical for parents to teach their children to believe in his existence. Still others oppose Santa Claus as a symbol of the commercialization of the Christmas holiday, or as an intrusion upon their own national traditions.”

    Like many other legends and tales (not fairy tales – read ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’), the story of Santa Claus is a means of passing on themes and lessons to the younger generations. Many teaching methods are age specific hence the changing techniques teachers use a children grow. Speaking of legends, look at what we say about the fathers of America, and Columbus. Many of the popular “history” about them glorifies them as moral men of unquestioned loyalty even wisdom (airbaths indeed!). How about the whole thing about Christmas? First it was most likely not in the winter time when Christ was born, the gifts from the “wise” men was not when he was born, where did red and green come from? And the tree? Are you putting up a tree (plastic or biological? Both are real it it matters which you chose, put that in a blog)

    How can Christians let the tooth fairy out of the bag when it should never have been in the bag, this is how we perpetuate the distrust between children and parents. If parents are lying about teeth what else are they lying about?! Want to lie about where babies come from? A stork – really?

    Is the legend of Santa Claus not to be taught? The whole westernized commercialized christmas “holidays” is much more offensive to me as a Christian. Easter bunny and hiding eggs is much worse because, where is there any connection to the death and rise of Christ and the bunny with eggs, get rid of the bunny and once you do that rethink St Nicholas.

    Nothing on this earth is black and white it is how things are told and intended. You tell a loved one as they are dying that everything is ok, that they are going to get better, that you will see them tomorrow.

    Santa Claus is no lie, it is a legend of a good Christian man doing good for those less fortunate. As long as parents keep true to the real (i heard that this was a goal of this blogger) ideals of St. Nicholas then they are not lying but using a legend for teaching and passing along good moral guidance to their children.

    Let us teach our children to live in love and be kind to others every way we can.

  4. One year when I was teaching a class of first and second graders I was reading a story about Santa Claus and I suggested to the children if they really believed that Santa could go to all the houses in the whole world in one night. As soon as the children got home from school I started receiving several angry calls from mothers complaining that I had no right to tell the children something that was the parents' prerogative. One mother said she was sure I'd be fired. IWAS called in to the principal's office who said he thought what I had done was probably not a good idea and that I shouldn't do it again. Santa Claus is like religion; teachers don't comment on parents' religious beliefs and they don't interfere with what they choose to tell their children aabout Santa Claus.

  5. I am struggling with the issue. My upbringing did not include Santa Claus. We were told from the start that Santa was ficticous. We also did not have many toys under the tree and the specialness of C-mas seemed to exist in everyone's family but mine. However, one C-mas my family arrived home from church and when we opened the screen door to our house, presents fell out of the door. They were labeled to my brothers and me and said from Santa. For a split second I truly believed in Santa. Then the truth was revealed that it was a good neighbor not Santa. What a letdown. Not that Santa did not exist, but that hope was so short lived. It was a wonderful feeling for me if just for a little while. So with that said, I want my children to feel that moment I felt but with the healthy understanding as to the real meaning of C-mas. I want them to experience the excitement but also understand it is Christ we are celebrating. Will I ever accomplish the balance? I don't know. But I want to try. I want them to have that wonder that was never afforded me...if just for a little while.

  6. My parents went way out of their way to make me believe in Santa with prancing on the roof to leaving cookies and milk for santa. I have good memories of trying to stay up as late as I could to try and get a glimpse of santa. I believed in him way too long though and when everyone else stopped believing, i still believed so when i finally found out the truth i was very hurt because i felt so stupid to have believed. Now i think it would have been nice at a certain age to be told without me having to pry it out of my parents for the truth. I also think that kids should know the true story of saint nicholas, that he did give to children and was a real person and santa is just the modernized version of this man who loved God and therefore served in this special way bringing gifts to children. Maybe they can dress like santa and bring gifts to sick children in the hospital so that they know that anyone can be like santa. Just some ideas.

  7. I think believing in Santa is part of a child's natural make believe world. I can see it would be a let down when one finally realizes Santa is not real. I'm glad I don't remember when this moment happened in my life.

  8. I was raised with an understanding of who St. Nicholas was and the kindness he bestowed, but always knew that the Santa's I saw everywhere were just men in costumes. There was never a question of who the gifts were from even if someone wrote "from Santa", we knew it was from a family member etc. I am thankful for the honesty and for being raised to focus on the true meaning of why we celebrate Christmas.

    Since having my own children now 3 and 1.5 years old, my husband and I don't make Santa part of our celebration. My kids love to see Santa and run up to him as soon as they see him but they know(well my 3yr old knows) that it's just a costume. They don't really understand what he's all about yet, just that they see him everywhere and he's a nice man in a fury red suit that talks to them.

    I'll just have to teach them as they get older to be respectful and not spoil anyone elses fun because like everything else, it is a personal decision.

  9. Such a good question! I really like what everyone had to share.

    My husband and I have are at crossroad on what we will we say about Santa to our kids.

    Like Maressa, I was brought up to believe Santa was real. My parents did CRAZY things!! I was probably the oldest person EVER to believe! And you know what, when I found out he wasn't real, it was heart-breaking. I felt very deceived, and I questioned if God was real. I remember asking my dad, "You say God is real, but you also told me Santa was real." I do not want this to happen to my son. Now sure, I probably was way more gullible and innocent... but I think it's so important kids don't feel deceived. It's not fair to break their trust.

    There's gotta be a balance! :)

  10. watch the Christmas episode of Bones, see the dialog between a genus and a FBI agent