Talking to kids about Santa

Santa with kids

How to talk to your kids about Santa? Well, the thing is, like most mothering topics, there is no right or wrong way. Not only is it different for each family, I think it’s different with each child. You have to trust that you know your child and what works best for them. And I think a question could be, not only how do we talk to them, but do we need to?

I know if I have seen the precious Pinterest post on writing a letter to your kids about Santa, then everyone has. This letter stresses the importance of keeping the magic of Christmas alive for your child. And while I think that Christmas magic is a wonderful thing, I’m wondering why we are putting so much pressure on ourselves. I remember a time when Christmas was about putting up a tree, leaving milk and cookies out on Christmas Eve and waiting for my parents to wake up on Christmas morning so I could open the few presents that Santa left.

We already have so much going on in parenting and then you add the busyness and chaos (I mean, magic) of the holidays and we are all one step away from white coats carrying us away. Christmas programs, Holiday Parties, Secret Santas, Elf on the Shelf, Looking at Christmas Lights and Advent Calendars cramming 25 more activities into our already busy schedules. Not to mention Facebook, Blogs, Pinterest and other moms telling us 1,000 more ways we can make Christmas special. I wonder how is it all magical if we are all so overwhelmed. I wonder if we are so intent on making everything so special for our children…that nothing is special anymore. I wonder if the magic is in keeping it simple.

My mom didn’t write me a letter explaining to me how we are all Santa keeping the magic of Christmas going. I clearly remember in 3rd grade figuring out that Santa didn’t really bring me the handmade baby carrier from the church craft fair for my Cabbage Patch Kid. I didn’t feel the need to “out” my parents and even though my parents probably suspected I had stopped believing in Santa, we never discussed it. And I know most of my friends had the same experience. Santa kept bringing presents year and after. And the magic wasn’t gone. It was just different. And it hasn’t stopped me from trying to make Christmas magical for my own kids and seeing the wonder of it through their eyes.

I have always told my kids that Santa came from St. Nick, who was a very real person a long time ago, who loved and served the poor and needy by giving them gifts at Christmas. Our focus during the holidays has a lot to do with our faith as well. So, although we celebrate the tradition of Santa and all things holiday, I didn’t feel like the truth about Santa would be crushing. Nor did it have to take the magic with it.

My oldest, who is now 11 years old, confronted me a couple of years ago. Her heart is tender and her personality a little bit more rigid and anxious. I put her off as long as I could, but she earnestly was asking about Santa. So, we did sit down and talk about it. I didn’t have a plan…or some cute and precious letter. I told her the truth, building on what I had always said about Santa and Christmas. I also explained how special and fun it is to keep the secret and the magic going for her younger siblings and other kids. Well, she has taken that and has run with it. She is the one who moves our very lazy Elf on the Shelf who does nothing fun or creative. She is the one who keeps her brother believing, even we he began questioning last year. (She’s also the one who reminds us to leave money under the pillow from the tooth fairy).

When her brother started questioning last year, I could sense that it could be our last year of fully believing in Santa with him. But, he continues. He occasionally asks, but I find if I don’t answer or keep my response very simple, he is appeased. I think mainly because he’s not ready to stop believing. I don’t anticipate having a conversation with him. I think he will keep it old school and just chose to say nothing and let the magic continue. And I will encourage him to do so, not just for him, but for his younger sister and others.

Our youngest and probably most naive doesn’t even question yet. And I do hope that lasts a long time. And when the time comes, I most likely won’t have a plan, but I will try to handle it the best way…for her. And I think Christmas will still be magical. Because, after all of these years, it still is.

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