Sunday, December 27, 2009

When Do We Tell Them About Santa?

I have been wondering lately if most parents tell their kids the truth about Santa.

Should we just play along with the idea of Santa until one day our child finally asks about jolly ol' St. Nick or when the neighborhood kid finally spills the beans (or they see a post pop up on their parents' e-mail that reads, "When Do We Tell Them About Santa?)? Should we really allow our middle school child to still believe?

Now, I have been contemplating this dilemma for some time now and have been asking around about this concept of telling your child about Santa and parents seem to agree they are mum on the subject with their kiddos. It seems odd to me to see a five foot boy weighing about 120 pounds still believe in Santa. Our children could be learning about the "birds and the bees" in school, but yet they still believe in a bearded man who comes down their chimney every Christmas and stuffs their stocking with everything they have been wanting. Don't you think that once that boy or girl finds out about Santa that he is going to feel a bit silly that he or she believed in that jolly old man for so long?

My husband and I agreed a long time ago that we would not play up Santa in our house. The kids hear all the songs about a man in a red suit coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve, but we never put out carrots for the reindeer or ask if they are excited about Santa coming. But we also did not give any hints that he was everything but real either.

Two years ago my oldest son figured it out. He was eight years old. (Click here to read last year's blog post on the story). At that time, my son agreed that he would not be the one to tell his friends and brother about Santa who all still believe. At first he was quiet about it and never said anything about Santa, but recently he has been playing it up and getting his younger brother all excited about St. Nick.

(Side story: every year Santa puts panties or a bra in my stocking. One year I accidently pulled it out while my boys were watching. From now on my youngest just cracks up that Santa put a bra in my stocking - although he still believes in Santa, he just can't understand why Santa would put a bra in my stocking.)

This year, our youngest put a note in his stocking. He never mentioned that he was going to do that and we were both surprised on Christmas Eve to see a piece of paper sticking up out of his green and red velvet stocking. It read, "Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to have a chance to be like you. Love, Samuel"

Santa wrote back, "Dear Samuel, Thank you for the kind note. You already are one of the most generous boys on my list. Keep up the good work. S"

Later, while opening our presents, our eldest came across a package that read, "To The Smith Family, Love S." Inside the gift was unexpected: another Wii controller and The Best of the Muppet Show. I was surprised too.

After opening up such an appropriate gift to the Smith family, my oldest son exclaimed, "Wow, Santa showed up big this year."

We were going to tell our youngest after this Christmas about Santa, but he is such a believer that I think it would just break his heart.

So, if you have older children, when and how did they find out about Santa? If you have younger kids, are you going to play along with the story of "Santa" or are you going to tell them the truth early? If you don't have kids, do you play along about Santa with your nieces and nephews?

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  1. You mean there's no Santa? Shame on you for spoiling that magic time for me!
    Childhood is a time of wonder and traditions and family beliefs. There are pros and cons in allowing your child the 'Believing of Santa'. The ramifications of not allowing your child to believe a little bit longer by telling them yourself may be longer lasting than allowing him/her to come upon knowing Santa is not real on their own. Honestly, have you ever met an adult who still believed in Santa? Have you ever met an adult who did not have a solid relationship with Jesus Christ because he believed in Santa until he was 12? Do you think your children will lose out on their relationship with God because they spent one more year thinking he was real and wishing to catch him putting gifts in the stockings? Maybe you want to keep the solid value of Christ in Christmas. Can you not do that and allow the magic for the children?
    In our home, we will never 'really' confirm that Santa is not real...but the kids know (or will know) that Santa is just really their parents loving them up at Christmas time. It has become a wonderful tradition to wake us up at 4:00a.m. (no joke!) and let us know that Santa had arrived. This Santa tradition in our home shows up as fun, giggles, laughter and love. He will remain a part of our Christmas every year.

    Those are some of my thoughts. What are some of yours?

  2. I am very torn on this subject. With an almost 3 year old who has picked up on a Santa, gifts, reindeer, etc. We got away with it this year by just acknowledging Santa, but not having to say who he really was. Except the fact that people would ask him, "Who's coming down your chimney tomorrow night?" And he would look at them strangely and then say, "No one." Whew!!! :)

    Anyway, I grew up believing in Santa WAAAAAAY too long. My parents really went out of their way to make me believe. And when I did find out the truth, that was about the time I was questioning if there really was a God that people talked about. It confused me that my parents were telling me- Ok, Santa is not real. But, God is real. So I have vowed since then to not go out of my way to deceive my son, yet as I face it today, I can't help but be tempted to create the fun spirit of tradition and Santa for him. Hmm... I guess I have about 363 days to figure out what our game plan is next year! :)

  3. I believed in Santa for way too long and felt humiliated and deceived when I found out. I remember telling my dad that he lied to me, and he said he never told me a lie, he just never told the truth. Okay, Dad, how is that okay!?

  4. We had Santa traditions for our chidlren but we made sure they knew the real reason for the season which is Jesus. Santa tradtions stayed alive in our family until both our kids were 9 years old. They asked and I did not lie. I told them the truth. Before 9 years old they did not ask and I did not say, " There is no Santa." We have a great realationship and they never thought I lied to them. They understood that is what parents do in USA and that it makes Christmas fun. I have an excellent relationship with my kids. We do not think black and white thinking in our family. Santa is in the gray area of thinking. If your kids flat out ask you and you say to their face there is a Santa than that it lying. If you follow a Santa tradition in your family to make things fun for small children that is adding adventure to your lives. I never said there was a Santa because everyone else did, I did it to have fun with my kids. They know by my everyday life I do not lie to them or other people.

  5. We played the "Santa Game", but we were always clear with our kids as to who Santa really was. I just had a firm belief in not lying to my kids even in fun.

    We were very matter of fact about the whole thing. We actually still have stockings (my youngest is 19). Everyone just knows that I fill them. If we have extra people in our lives who will be visiting on Christmas, they get a stocking too. I changed it up a a bit this year and filled them as I bought stuff. I... think they had more fun than ever as they snuck into their stockings each day to see if there was anything new.

    If I remember correctly, there was a big Santa present that was unwrapped. It arrived on Christmas morning - completely assembled. We were just open about the fact that Santa was Mom and Dad.

  6. Never did the whole "Santa" thing...not with any of our 6 kids. We choose to celebrate Jesus, and not Santa. And believe it or not, they LOVE Christmas still! :)

  7. I agree with you, Joy! Plus - I didn't want Santa to take the credit for all the cool gifts we lavished on our kids. Besides, when I found out at 7 that Santa was not real - I was devasted - then reality hit - there was no Easter Bunny either. It was a dark year:). Thank God...JESUS is real!

  8. So no one agreed completely and it just boils down to how long the parents' will let there child beleive in Mr. Claus.
    Torn btw letting the fun continue and making sure our youngest trusts us not to lie, I am now asking him questions about Santa to get him thinking - laying down some doubt about the man in red. I am hoping by next year, at age 9, he will ask me if Santa is real and that is when I will tell him everything. We will still "play" Santa, but we just want to make sure the kid's know we are not playing along with a lie.
    I was surprised there were so many who responded that there parents played along and deceived them about Santa for too long.