“Santa Claus is coming to town…”
“Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say…”
“I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus…”
Santa Claus: the jolly, rosy-cheeked, white-bearded elf who delivers gifts to every good boy and girl on Christmas Eve. He was a staple in my early Christmas memories, and we did the whole cookies and milk thing for him every year. My husband, on the other hand, was told outright Santa Claus was not “real” when it came to his gift-giving marathon every Christmas.
This was definitely a non-issue until we had our son Saint in 2017. Now he’s 4 and a few weeks ago he cornered me while I was brushing my teeth with “Mom. Is Santa Claus real or not?” My knee-jerk response was instantaneous laughter, much to my work shirt’s dismay as toothpaste and spit went everywhere. I should’ve expected this as Santa was already a popular figure in his past 4 Christmases. My mind went into overdrive looking for a response. It settled on “Do YOU think he’s real?” and after some back and forth my son seemed to forget the question entirely.
I realized then that my husband and I had a decision to make.
A quick internet search reveals many parents have the same dilemma of determining whether they should tell the truth about Santa Claus and if there’s a specific age where the blow isn’t so heartbreaking. As I’ve pondered on how best to handle this, I’ve found my very own principles have come to the forefront. I value truth above many things, and at the risk of taking the fun out of the Christmas spirit, telling my kid Santa Claus is real is not the truth. What is the purpose of having Santa represented as an actual being that will enter our home with every gift my son put on his Christmas list? Is not the magic in the story itself as opposed to the live-action take we try so desperately to create the night before Christmas? Not to mention my son will get to an age where he realizes I’ve been lying the whole time.
Is it better for him to hear the truth now or later?
True, believing in Santa and his discernment of my child’s good and bad behavior is a surefire way to have an orderly Christmas season. The thought of having him in my back pocket to put my kid in line is very tempting. And yet, I want to trust my own skills and abilities to adapt as a parent in such a way that I get a change in my child’s behavior on my own accord. Not having Santa as the ever-watchful entity overseeing my son’s actions forces me to step up and get more creative in my approach to raising him during the holidays. And, to be quite frank, I just don’t have the energy to keep up appearances that Santa IS real. Real-life is complex enough without having to moonlight as the jolly man once a year. For that matter, anyone that does Elf on a Shelf for a full month is incredible.
Maybe I’m overthinking this whole thing and should just let Santa live.
Alas, the classic overthinker that I am would just rather clear the air with my kiddo once and for all and control any potential fallout when he tells other kids the truth. So no, Saint, Santa isn’t real. But his stories are fun to hear and share when we’re talking about the magic that is the Holiday Season.