Where do you stand on telling kids about Santa? Evan knows all about Santa, has “seen him in real life” a few times (he loves talking about it), and understands the idea that Santa brings Christmas presents.

Over the past while, Evan has asked a lot of questions about whether certain things are real. I think it started when we watched Monsters Inc. and I let him know that monsters are pretend, since he was a little scared of his closet. He’s asked if the following are real: firefighters, volcanoes, hippos, fairies, snowmen, and reindeer. When I said that reindeer are real but that they don’t really fly, he insisted, “They do fly, using magic!” Fair enough, I guess…

In response to the question, “Is Santa real?” I said no. If you’re offended by that, I don’t really care. My kid – not yours. I explained that Santa is a really fun idea of a nice man who brings presents at Christmas, but what actually happens is that we give gifts to each other (as I mentioned here). I also said that even though Santa is pretend, Evan should NOT go around telling other kids. I’m a decent enough person for that.

Last week I brought Evan with me to a doctor’s appointment where I had blood drawn. As the nurse was getting everything set up, she asked Evan what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas, to which he promptly responded, “Santa isn’t real.” Oh my heavens, the Look that nurse gave me – like I was the worst mother ever! I defended myself, pretty much the way I have here: Evan wanted to know what was real and what wasn’t.

Do you see benefits to pretending that Santa is real? Or do you draw a distinction between reality and imagination? I don’t remember ever thinking that the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy were real, but I may have just grown out of it. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


14 Comments on “Santa”

  1. Alicia says:

    I struggled with this issue as well. We really stress honesty and I hated the idea of lying to him about Santa, but I also didn’t want to deprive him of such a standard childhood experience. This is what I ended up going with when Soren asked me if Santa was real: “Well, some people believe he’s real and others do not. In our family the gifts we receive are given by friends and family, not by Santa. What do you believe?” He responded that he did believe Santa was real and then asked me what I believed. I told him that I did not. But I liked that I gave him the choice about what to think without actually lying to him. He also asked if we could have presents from Santa and I explained that I would be the one one buying his gifts. He then asked if I could write ‘From Santa’ on one of the gifts I bought. I figured that was reasonable. As far as benefits, I do remember being very excited about Santa when I was younger, and I wasn’t particularly scarred when I found out he wasn’t real, but I’ve known other people who were totally messed up and I’d like to avoid that.

    • Mika says:

      Alicia, that’s brilliant. I wish I’d had the foresight to blog about the Santa issue before it came up so I could have your advice! Maybe when June gets to the right age, I’ll try this with her.

  2. KHL says:

    I think both you and Alicia are doing great! Even when our kids were grown up I still marked some presents as “from Santa” even though we all knew he wasn’t real. It just gets so old to say, “from Dad & Mom, Mom & Dad, etc.” (Maybe sometime I’ll try Tooth Fairy!) But I don’t remember ever trying to keep “Santa” real for any of our kids. I don’t think that the idea of a real Santa would make Christmas more fun or special. Keep up the good work, moms!

    • Mika says:

      Since there are only 4 of us right now, and we’re doing a small Christmas, aaaaand my kids can’t read, I guess I don’t have to worry about writing who the gift is from much. Which reminds me that i need to teach Evan to read soon…

  3. Julia says:

    Evan is smart. He would have figured it out and then the same information would have been shared and he would have said the same thing to the nurse. The difference is that he sees you as a person that’s going to tell you the truth when asked and he can trust. I think that the relationship of trust between you is better than caring about what a nurse thinks. I think you couched it just fine for him.

  4. Kayleen says:

    Ugh!!! I STRUGGLE with this too. Isaak hasn’t just come out and asked. Mostly he just tells me about Santa. I would like him to enjoy the magic of Santa, but I don’t want to lie to him either. So, good for you for taking a stand. It feels harder to say he’s not real when all of his friends at preschool talk about him so excitedly. Jury’s still out. Brian and i will tell him the real story of Chris Kringle (sp) and explain the tradition, but if he asks me straight up if he’s real I will tell him the truth.

    • Mika says:

      That is tricky. Evan doesn’t spend much time with other kids yet, so I mostly needed to prevent him from telling all his cousins that Santa isn’t real. I guess I just can’t remember what the “magic of Santa” is, so I didn’t feel like I was depriving Evan of much. But again, that may just be something I’ve forgotten in the years since childhood.

      • Sposita says:

        You don’t need to worry about the cousins here! I have been pretty open about explaining that Santa is not real – but they still choose to believe! I think it was an exceptionally good Santa at a Ward Christmas party that convinced them that Santa was “real.”

        • Mika says:

          Yeah, Evan has informed me a few times that Santa IS real, because Jesus made him real. I don’t really know where to start with that logic, so I’ve left it alone.

        • Jim says:

          So… we bring Santa to a church Christmas party, where we in essence teach children that Santa is real, knowing they will eventually find out he’s not. This would be the same church where we teach children that Christ is real, and think they will have no trouble believing in something they can’t see, when the Santa they can see is fake? I have had a problem with Santa being a part of a church Christmas party for a long time. Of all the churches in the world, we should be the one that doesn’t invite Santa to the party. At least, that’s my opinion.

          • Mika says:

            Dad, I’ve wondered about that as well. I probably got it from you! My approach to the Santa issue was of course in part driven by my religious beliefs, but even with that aside, it seemed weird for me – as Evan’s current source of information about the world – to intentionally mislead him on the subject. I’m fine with simplifying things for him and explaining that I’ll give him more details as he gets bigger, but Santa seems like a different dilemma altogether – not just something “too complicated” for a little kid to understand. I want Evan to feel like I always give him an honest answer, even if part of my answer is that we’ll continue talking about it as he grows. But I didn’t feel comfortable telling him that Santa was real.

  5. reneecgirl says:

    I think it is important that our kids can trust us to tell the truth, just as you said. Obviously Harrison isn’t old enough but I’ve already been thinking about this a lot. I remember realizing santa was not real, and I kind of was like, “Meh, I think I’ve known all along.” I come down too the same place as you I think, I can’t play up santa and then not fear confusion about God/Jesus. I’m glad I have a few more years.

    • Mika says:

      I don’t exactly remember realizing or finding out that Santa wasn’t real – so I’m not sure if my parents didn’t act like he was a big deal, or if I just eventually grew out of the belief that he was real. And the religious aspect was important to me…I really wish I’d put more thought into it beforehand, so I could have a great talk with him about it. Either way, Evan still tells me that Santa brings presents; he seems perfectly comfortable with the opposite ideas of “Santa is pretend” and “Santa and his reindeer bring me presents.” I’m going to let him, since it’s what he’s chosen to believe for now!

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