Wednesday, December 22, 2010

To Santa, or not to Santa?

Shy Santa

My toddler's not old enough to say 'Santa', but he's seen him: in the mall, in videos, as an ornament hanging from the (now fake) Christmas tree. Soon I'm going to have to deal with the Santa question: do I tell him he's real or what?

Sure, I have history with this. There I was, maybe two-and-a-half, and in the perfect Santa belief bubble. All the kids around me believed, no older siblings to spill the beans. Then what happened? My grandparents, of all people. "PV, you know there's no such thing as Santa, right?" All my parents could do was blush and look away.

Consequently, I have a love/hate relationship with Saint Nick. Love having him around, but don't like the confabulation around explaining how he can go to everybody's house in a single night. Once the kids learn math, it's all over. Or how about this: Why doesn't Santa deliver to little Jewish or Muslim kids? Get past that, and eventually a rogue third-grader is going to point a stubby finger at your kid and utter those devastating words: "baby still believes in Santa!" Then, your kid comes back to you. Accusingly. I don't want to deal with that. That's the thing with saying that Santa is real, eventually the truth will come out.

Now, maybe that's just my experience. Perhaps other kids can believe and then let Santa go like a disused binky, without any fuss. I don't know.

Yet, I continue to love Santa as a character of Christmas. What he represents. So much so, I've written stories for my children featuring the the jelly-belly elf. I don't want Christmas to be sanitized of Santa.

Where do you come down on the Santa question?


  1. I remember having doubts as a kid. My parents felt they would be destroying the fun if they told me the truth. They were certainly well-meaning, but I had to know. When I found out the truth, I think my parents were more disappointed than I was.

    As for my children -- I never told them Santa was for real. I let them believe as long as they wanted. When they asked for the truth, though, I told them. Like me, they were relieved to put any doubt to rest. (I did caution them, though, not to tell other children). In our family, the spirit of Christmas never suffered when the kids found out the truth about Santa.

  2. Let's put it this way. A friend donned the Santa outfit today, for the last day of school before a middle school. The kids went wild. So many laughed and had a smile on their faces. Whether they believe or not, isn't the question, it's the idea - the child in us that needs a Santa at Christmas. As an adult I never question a little magic coming into someone's life. (Hugs)Indigo

  3. @Debbie

    Thanks for your response.

    I do think that parents over-emphasize the Santa myth. To me Christmas is magical, no matter what. Seems reasonable to me if a child is old enough to question the existence of the big elf, they should probably get an answer.

  4. @Indigo

    I don't mind the play-acting aspect. That story you told sounds like a really fun time. I certainly wouldn't have wanted to spoil the illusion.

    Thanks for your response.

  5. Kids have this amazing ability to suspend rational throught when someone they trust tells them something is true.

    For instance, the hot thing this year is "the shelf elf" you can get them at any Borders, toy store, etc. It's a plastic elf that sits on a shelf, moves to a different location each night, and reports back to Santa on any misbehavior during the holidays.

    Depite seeing this item at the book/toystore, the kids still think that Santa is really behind this. My sisters have had them for years and despite pulling the thing out of a cardboard box full of garland and ornaments the day after Thanksgiving, my neices and nephews still believe that the elf is sending messages back to Santa. (This is at eight and nine by the way.)

    My theory is that they've known for years, and it's now a conspiracy amoung elementary school children to "keep the parents in the dark" about the fact that they're in on the scam. That way they get double presents. 'Casue really, who could be that dim? But maybe they do believe, and they just don't question that an elf is a plastic being who watches their every move and reports back to Santa during December, but lives in a musty cardboard box in the store room for the rest of the year.

    Anyway, I think it's pretty harmless, sure you feel like a moron when you find out, but you still have the joy of knowing that you'll be able to pay it forward when you have your own kids.

  6. @Melissa,

    It probably is pretty harmless stuff. A fun thought, isn't it, that kids are just humoring parents so that they can get extra presents.

    I do believe the whole Santa thing can become more important to parents than kids.


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