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No, Virginia, There Isn't a Santa Claus

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Guest blogger Elizabeth Lindell: Every Christmas Eve for the past 11 years, my daughter has baked cookies for Santa. Many families can relate to this sweet tradition and savor the wonder and excitement our children's faces hold as they set out that plate before bedtime. This year, our tradition will be evolving.

Santa Claus
When we become parents, we carry forth some traditions from generations before, weeding out ones that don't fit with our current lives and beliefs and adding new ones that do. Telling our child that a man in a red suit would come down our chimney every year bringing her gifts was not one my husband wanted to continue. To him, it was a lie, plain and simple. To me, it wasn't that black and white. It was just a part of childhood that we didn't need to analyze. But I should have -- and from my daughter's very first Christmas.

My daughter trusted me when I said I would never lie to her, so at age 11, she still believed in Santa with her whole heart. Why wouldn't she? I had been creating the illusion her entire life: signing packages to her from him in disguised handwriting; baking those cookies with her; allowing her to write notes for him to find on Christmas Eve; thanking him for all that he does; even responding to her, as him, thanking her for being such a kind and generous person all year long.

Over the past two years, she has had enormous emotional and personal growth. She discusses politics, our environment, animal rights, religion, equality and meteors that have potential to end the world. In my heart, I knew it didn't make sense for her to have such intelligent conversations at home and school while defending her belief in Santa to her equally intelligent peers.

When I told her, she cried for an hour. She said to us, "You've been lying to me for 11 years? I hear reindeer on the roof every year!" My heart was breaking. I went into a fast spiral, telling her how this Christmas was going to be the most special because she could experience what it feels like to be Santa for someone the way we had been for her so many years. We talked about picking up treats and a sweater for a dog that was recently rescued by a friend and what she could choose for the man we see sitting under the freeway every day on our way home from school.

My husband, though, had the words that turned it around and brought a smile to her face. "You're welcome for all of the presents," he said.

next: Could Frisky Behavior Run in the Family?
35 comments so far | Post a comment now
Mikaela Krumholz December 7, 2010, 2:36 AM

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Jennifer December 7, 2010, 6:29 AM

While I see your point (as I’ve battled it myself) I also believe in the magic of Christmas. Our children also believe that cartoon characters are real. It’s their imagination and eventually…they figure it out. There are ways to work around that without it appearing as though you lied. I simply want my child to enjoy her childhood while she can and anything I can do to facilitate that… I’m doing. The world around her is much too serious for children to be involved in right now so playing that small role is worth it to me… it keeps things in perspective and extends their innocence that much longer. There will be time for her to be an adult later on. With that said, there’s nothing wrong with an 11 year old being told ‘the truth’; not such a bad age to bring it up. I just wouldn’t want to encourage parents of younger children to take that away from them on the pretense that ‘it’s a lie’. When, truth be told, millions of us were all told the same story, later to find out it wasn’t true and we ended up just fine. :)

Jeff Westover December 7, 2010, 8:24 AM

It is a sad day indeed when parent and child come together on the veracity of Santa Claus. But is it really right to say there is no Santa…when, in fact, there really was? And why pick on Santa, a true role model, in the pretend of our children when we think nothing of their play with characters like Spiderman or Barbie?

Santa can and should be managed in the lives of our children. It’s not a lie if you handle it properly. Those who present it as such don’t really know a thing about the character and how he is good for our children.

Aprilcot26 December 7, 2010, 9:09 AM

I guess I don’t see the big deal. I figured it out myself when I was about 9. I didn’t get angry with my parents for “lying to me”…I thought it was nice that they created such special Santa traditions with my brother and me. Even then, I still got presents from Santa until I was in college! :)

Santa Claus December 7, 2010, 12:23 PM

For your information, my LEGAL name is Santa Claus, and I’m a full-time volunteer advocate for millions of vulnerable children in dire straits. I’m also a Christian Bishop and Monk, as St. Nicholas was many centuries ago, and believe that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, not the crass, commercial, secular spectacle it has become in many places, and that the greatest gift one can give is love, not presents. Perhaps, you should tell your daughter the real truth.
Blessings to all, Santa Claus

Lisa December 7, 2010, 5:11 PM

There are always two sides to the story. My father was like your husband. He felt it was lying to us. I never experienced the magic of Christmas and watched sadly as my friends did. I’ve always heard once they ask tell them. It’s a hard call.

Tabatha  December 7, 2010, 5:34 PM

This is why I never say Santa is a person, I tell my children that Santa is the magic of Christmas. It’s not a lie, it’s a simple truth that Santa is in fact real in our hearts. And a long, long time ago he was real and we as parents have continued his story in our own ways. If you want the magic to end you say it out loud, he’s not real but I don’t see us doing that. “Santa” will always be real in our house even if our kids know he’s not a real person, but he’ll always be magical!

a guest December 7, 2010, 5:35 PM

PEOPLE PLEASE!!!! Children start rational development well before age 11. I have a lot of Boomer friends with kids who are forcing their kids to act like this myth is true at a time when the kids should be developing critical thinking and rational beliefs. Boomer parents baby their kids until well past a sensible age - I have friends with a 12 year old boy who told me he was writing letters to Santa still. I knew at age 5 that Santa was made up. None of it made sense - I carried on the myth for two more years to please my parents. I always had wonderful Christmases as a kid. You don’t need to be a chucklehead to enjoy Christmas. Frankly, I don’t believe her daughter still believed.

Pamala December 7, 2010, 7:46 PM

Yeah I’m a bit skeptical about this in general. Children at an earlier age than 11 start realizing the difference between real and make believe. Does this child still believe in princesses? The Easter Bunny?

I think this parent is being played for all it’s worth. She found a way to get her parents for lying to her.

I’m sure she’s known for quite some time (I was 7 when I realized he wasn’t real).

And if she truly thought that Santa was real then perhaps a lesson on real verses fairy tales is in order.

CT December 8, 2010, 3:11 PM

To the people saying, “Of course the 11 year old no longer believed in such a mythical concept as Santa Claus; the mom is getting played, and if not, that kid needs a lesson in reality versus fairy tales,” I hope you also feel anyone older than 11 believing in such an unrealistic concept as God should also get a lesson in reality versus fairy tales.

Having read this author’s other posts, I think it’s humorous and a great statement of hope for the future of our world that this kid figured out God wasn’t real before she figured out Santa wasn’t real.

Alison December 9, 2010, 6:44 AM

I think it depends on the child. My oldest child figured it out when she was 8 but didn’t want to tell us because she thought it would ruin our fun. She wasn’t upset at all and she has now joined us in keeping the magic alive for our youngest two. She said she understood Santa but can’t figure out the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy. Her exact words were - “How dumb do adults think kids are?” She does think it is strange adults will let their kids sit on a strangers lap.

Worried December 9, 2010, 8:23 AM

I might be old fashioned, but reading this article got me very worried. I don’t understand what inspires mothers to “blog” about their children. I know it is great to brag about your children to your friends, but posting items out there in the internet is permanent. In today’s world of bullying, and tech-savy kids, this writer seems to be opening her beautiful child up to critism. I am sure that an 11 year old boy would love to give this poor little girl grief about crying for an hour, and still believing in Santa. I have gone back through her articles, and she has talked about her daughter’s medical condition, as well as her belief about God and now Santa. This is all great reading for now, but this is also the equivalent of showing naked baby pictures to the world….someday, the wrong person might be out there looking through this and cause her daughter to be criticized, bullied, or even worse. She has even posted her daughter’s name, and location. To Elizabeth, please be careful. Your sharing could very well be harmful to your daughter, and I am sure that is not your intent.

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