Is there a Santa

board-19793_640Do you carry on the practice of Santa for your children? I never gave it much thought. I wanted to give my children the full experience of the magic of Christmas and instilled a belief in Santa.  The children had fun and I had fun playing Santa. That is until my youngest learned the truth.

My youngest was 9 when he learned there wasn’t a real Santa living at the North Pole who in one night visited each and every home around the world to bring presents.  His hurt is something I’ve never forgotten.

He felt that I had betrayed him.  He stressed how I had raised him to tell the truth on everything, even if it meant he could get in trouble, and then I lied to him each and every year.  Needless to say I was shocked by  his reaction.


It didn’t get any better as he got older. The subject of Santa came up over the following years, and his belief that I broke a cardinal rule of our family continued to be his prevailing view.

Today he is a father, and his view still hasn’t changed.  He is going through the process of what to tell his daughter about Christmas, and I should add  his wife is very supportive of his feelings on this matter agreeing to work something out that fits their family, even though I think she really wants to play Santa.  He is torn between wanting the honesty that he feels I robbed him of between us, and wanting to give his daughter those magical moments he still recalls from his early Christmas mornings.  For my son there has never been grey in the world everything is black or white.


We have had several conversations about his views recently on this subject and here’s what it boils down to.

  • If you want your children to be honest with you, you need to teach that in every way from very little on up by always telling them the absolute truth.
  • If you raise a child to believe in Santa, then you are instilling in them the possibility that they will want more from the holiday. You are robbing them of what  a simple Christmas can be by letting them believe Santa can grant their biggest wish.
  • In our home money was tight, yep single mothers sometimes struggle. My son feels badly that I had to take on more stress trying to come up with the perfect gift to give from Santa while trying to stay within a budget.
  • Mostly, the presents from Santa are the ones that are the “extra” special ones. The ones mom and dad say they can’t afford.  He would like to have those special presents be from mom and dad. He jokes that if he does tell his daughter there is a Santa, Santa will be the one giving socks and underwear.


What do you think? I’m beginning to think my son might have something here.  Yes, I did overspend on the holidays trying to give them one of their wishes and having that be from Santa.  Yep, guilty the best present under the tree was always from Santa in my opinion.  Yet some of his most treasured gifts were the little ones from me. For example, each year he received a different eagle from me for his collection. These cost very little but meant the most to him in the end.

Is there some truth to my son’s feelings that we instill higher expectations on the parents to be able to give a special present from Santa that adds stress to the parents in the shopping season?

Are we breaking a cardinal rule by telling this “white lie” to our children all in wanting to experience our children’s eyes light up on Christmas morning?

A final issue we have is how to handle the situation when cousins get together and some are raised believing in Santa and some aren’t.  Depending on what my son decides we will all figure this one out when we need to just like we did when the older children no longer believed and the little ones did.





  1. In all my thinkings about raising kids, I hadn’t considered this before. I’m not sure how I feel about it… my parents raised me believing in Santa, but I always (even as a small child) realized that Santa had dad’s handwriting, so I wasn’t devastated to find that Santa wasn’t “real.” Perhaps another Christmas tradition that doesn’t revolve around getting something, instead of “Santa brings presents,” could be a good compromise – maybe sending Santa your wish list for non-material things like happiness or safety. Santa’s just another person we pray to, only we pray to him for material things. Maybe that’s the problem. Of course, saying Santa brings all those socks doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. I do plan to seriously limit the amount of gifts and toys that come into my kids’ lives because I think people “these days” are seriously over-buying a bunch of cheap crap for their kids because it’s easier than teaching them to do without what the kid next door has. I am so ranty for someone with no kids!! Dang!


    • Caitlin, I love reading how you think through your comments. I like your idea to ask Santa for happiness or safety. The one thing about the internet is that you get to be exposed to ideas (like do you have to play Santa because that’s what you grew up with) before you have children. I wish I had thought it through, as someone who bucked everything that didn’t make sense I have no idea why I never thought about an alternative to Santa. It was something everyone did.


        • Isn’t it though? When I started seeing decorations out in the stores in August I knew things were getting worse. I’ve always said I would rather give a gift to someone because something made me think of them, but to do it any time of the year rather than holding everything until December 25th. I think it means more to know it was given to you for no special reason.


      • I’m glad someone appreciates my stream of consciousness 🙂

        I think Santa is just another thing I’m re-examining from what I thought I knew. Just like brushing my teeth with baking soda and starting a compost bin. As I grow, I learn, and as I learn, I grow. I hope it never stops!


  2. Santa was a very magical thing for me as a child and for several years after I knew that he wasn’t real, I continued to “believe” in him because of the magic he represented. My parents and we as parents didn’t overspend with Santa gifts. We already knew what we were going to get our kids and just picked out one of them that was going to be from Santa. What made Santa’s present different was that it wasn’t wrapped. I never expected, nor did my kids, to get everything or maybe anything on my list. Santa knew best in the end what was the right gift for me.

    My kids figured out Santa wasn’t real pretty early because they didn’t buy the physics of reindeer flying. However, they still liked to play the Santa game. When considering whether or not to play the Santa game, I think one needs to take the developmental level of the child into play. Everything is magic to young children because they don’t really understand how anything works. If your son is worried about lying to his daughter, maybe he should tell her the truth when she is getting old enough to have some doubts. For my kids, that was around five. For others I have known, that has been around ten. He should also consider the personality of his daughter. She may be equally upset with him when she gets older, that he didn’t give her the Santa experience as he was about not being told the truth. And let’s face it, we all need to learn how to tell white lies to spare someone’s feelings. Maybe Santa is an early example of this.

    The bottom line is that your son and daughter-in-law will do what they think is best for their daughter. And we all know as parents, sometimes what we do is the right thing and sometimes it’s not. But it is done with love and that wins out in the end.


    • I’m glad you enjoyed the magic of Christmas with Santa. I didn’t get to enjoy it as a child, but that’s another story, but I think that’s why I never questioned doing it for my children, I wanted them to have what I didn’t. Haven’t we all been there or heard that before?

      My son was starting to doubt Santa, then of all things we went to the dollar theater to watch the first Santa Claus movie with Tim Allen. My oldest and I looked at each other and thought “this is it, he won’t believe any more” But on the way out of the theater, the youngest son turned to me and said that now he got how Santa did every thing. I was dumb-founded yet couldn’t look at my eldest son for fear either he or I (or both of us) would burst out laughing and not be able to stop. It was a few months after that someone at school told him it wasn’t true.

      I know this is my son’s decision with his family. I learned from my grandparents not to meddle in my adult children’s lives, so while my son talks to me about this, I am his sounding board but don’t ever try to sway him as this has to be between him and his wife.

      Oh how right you are. We never know until much later if what we thought was right as parents was or not, if only children came with an instruction manual. 🙂


    • Stockings now there’s another idea, the items in the stocking could be from Santa, I’ll suggest that to my son. I like how you worked it out for your family. Did you ever consider celebrating Christmas without Santa when the girls were little?


        • I hadn’t considered it either. My oldest was 5 when he figured it out, he went through my closet before I had everything wrapped on Christmas eve. He came to me and began asking who was getting this or that. Christmas morning he was so upset to learn that the gift with Santa on it came from my closet that he worked extra hard to keep his younger brother believing as long as possible. Of course then he was a shocked as I was when his brother got so upset.


  3. Ooh, OOH! OR: Take your kids shopping for a family in need, explaining the magic of Santa, and tell them that THEY get to be Santa for this child in need. I think kids would love to play Santa!


  4. Oh wow…what a post. I am in the process of writing a post on this very subject because my kids have never believed in santa. We decided this for many reasons but mainly the contradictory messages we would be sending…truth, honesty and transparency, stranger danger and the real reason we as a family celebrate Christmas. My eldest has been saying to me since she could articulate how wrong it OS for some strange man to come into your house when you are sleeping and don’t even get her started on “he knows when you are sleeping” creepy she tells me. We deal with it by teaching them that different isn’t wrong its just different…and really other santa believing people should he taught that too…our kids don’t play along with it because that would he like telling an aethiest to pretend God is real. I applaud your son but in the same breath point out that as parents we do the best we know how to do and that’s all anyone can ask for.


    • I can’t wait to read your post when it’s ready. I would love to meet your eldest. I never thought about the stranger danger thing or someone knowing when you are sleeping, but that part may be because I was raised Catholic and well, God knows everything you do. For some reason I always questioned how God could hear everyone’s prayers though, quite the contradiction aren’t I.

      I’m glad to hear that your children are quite happy having not ever being told there was a Santa, it’s nice to know either way works just depends on the family.


  5. When my child was little, we lived near relatives who did not do Santa. They believed it detracted from the Jesus story and might lead their kids to eventually think that Jesus wasn’t real either. So we didn’t do Santa. Within a couple of years, we moved far away, but didn’t suddenly introduce Santa traditions. When Link asked at age 3 if Santa was real, we said no, parents bring the gifts. However, we said, “It’s fun to tell Santa stories” and we read Santa stories and sang Santa songs in much the same way we would about anything mythical or legendary. I did have to instruct Link not to argue with other kids about whether Santa was real, and for a year or two, it was a bit of a burden to have this secret knowledge that couldn’t be discussed with other kids. But that didn’t last long, and overall, I am happy with how things worked out!


    • I do understand that Christmas is a religious holiday first and foremost, but it sounds like your relatives kind of pushed their traditions on you, I’m glad you weren’t resentful. I very much like how you handled the situation with your son after you moved. I do think it’s fun to tell Santa stories, watch Rudolph the red nose reindeer animated movie as well.


  6. We grew up with Santa but there was one child around 5 years old who lived down the street (when I was already older) and told me that he knew because his family had told him and that he wouldn’t spoil it on the other children. At that time I felt very sorry for him. When I found out (from my older cousin) I wasn’t upset because I had an inkling anyway. When my youngest sister stopped believing I think my parents were very upset and so we spent the holidays… on holiday! Just to do something different for them. It is a very personal thing, so thank you for opening the discussion. Your blog readers are a very tolerant group of people 🙂


    • I do have great readers don’t I? Do you still feel sorry for the boy down the street? I do think it’s the parents who want to continue the tradition. Maybe we are all trying to recapture the magic we feel we lost as children.


      • Honestly, when i think back i just remember how sorry i felt for him but now i think how mature he was for such a little guy not to go and tell all the other kids what he knew. I met him recently and he turned out alright 😉


  7. I’ll tell you what I liked as being Santa to my kids. I liked being able to give my kids a gift without them having to be thankful to me for it. Perhaps that seems odd, but I just wanted them to receive something that seemed totally free,

    that when they overheard my husband and I talking about money issues, they wouldn’t look at their new toy and think, “maybe Mom and Dad shouldn’t have bought this for me”,

    that every time they played with it, they didn’t need to feel they ought to thank me again,

    that they could feel that there was someone in this world who hardly knows them, yet loves them enough to give them a gift (haven’t you ever had your child say to you when you pay them a compliment, “but you have to say that, you’re my mom”) I didn’t want them to feel i “had to give them this gift, because I’m their mom”.

    and that I could “share” in the joy of their receiving something, and just be in the moment of the magic.

    I wanted to be Santa, and be anonymous for one of their gifts.


    • What an amazing way to look at it. I never thought of it that way before. Santa was just something I thought every child needed to experience. You know it’s funny when my oldest was a teenager he one day asked me if we had been poor when he was little. I answered him honestly that in money yes. He told me I did a good job because he never realized it as he had so much fun. I think that was one of the nicest complements he could have ever given me.


  8. Very interesting. I’m not sure if I ever really believed in Santa or not… don’t think so – I had stuck my head far enough into the fireplace to be pretty darned sure that no fat man was gonna make his way down that tiny hole! Plus, when lipstick appeared on the glass of milk we left out for him – well, that was the kicker, either Santa was a transvestite, or it was all baloney.

    Actually, being raised as an atheist, the more pressing question for me around Christmas time was whether all of this God and Jesus stuff was real. My mother explained that God and Santa were pretty much in the same category. Both were nice ideas, but neither really existed.

    Not sure how I feel about it as an adult, though I think my cats are skeptical! 🙂

    But seriously, I think one can take the whole “kids need to be told the truth about the world” thing a bit too far. I wasn’t allowed to read fairy tales as a child because my father didn’t want my head filled with the idea that some prince charming was gonna come rescue me. Of course, my father also had a fit when we read Jonathan Livingston Seagull in school, because he said it was completely irresponsible to fill children’s heads with the idea that believing in something can make it so. His take was that life was pretty much a veil of tears and then you die, and the sooner kids learned to accept that the better.

    So all in all, I think there is something to be said for a bit of belief in hope, good will, peace on earth, etc.


    • I still don’t know how I feel about it, but it is telling that my son who was so adamant that his children would never be told there was a Santa, Easter Bunny, etc is now going to include Santa in a small way for his children. Maybe it needs to be a part of some tradition for the magic of it.

      What an interesting difference you and I had. I was raised Catholic by people who never questioned any thing, where you had the complete opposite. I can’t embrace Catholicism it doesn’t work for me and have wavered between agnostic and atheism my whole adult life. I tried to be very open with my children while not trying to sway them. I encouraged them to make their own minds up. One is agnostic and the other atheist.

      Your father had quite a pessimistic view of life! I never really had to face the princess/prince thing much as a mother because I had two boys who were more into Ninja Turtles than anything, talk about fantasy land turtles who can talk and move fast enough to be ninjas? But I do see it some with my eldest grand daughter. Her parents avoided TV by having Disney movies, she became obsessed with the princesses, now she’s added Barbie 🙂

      Parenting is hard work, I wouldn’t want to do it all over again today, but I guess every generation says that.


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