Santa (or should we tell children the secret?)

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Let’s talk about the most imaginary of friends, Santa Claus. I read an article called “In Defence of Santa Claus” and it made me think. (Sorry, no angry rant)


I’m not sure what to do when I, eventually, have children. I discovered the truth about Santa when I was relatively young. It wasn’t a shock or really much of anything. I just realized that my mom and brother had put out the presents.

My wife, on the other hand, was told on the bus and got into a fight (not physical – it involved a lot of yelling) about it and wouldn’t believe it even when her parents told her.

Why was it harder for her than for me? I don’t know. Maybe it was the level of honesty of our parents? My wife’s parents were always completely honest with her.

My mom, on the other hand, reveled in telling fanciful lies. She had me convinced for a long time that one of our ancestors had created French Fries. She even had a long elaborate story to go with it. It was her way of both teasing and training me not to believe everything I hear. They were always interesting and fun. (I miss her.)

So what does that mean? What does a little fib matter if it brings magic to the holidays? Saying that Santa brings magic, makes it sound like those who discover the secret don’t have magical holidays. That’s simply not true. There’s something special about the holidays that is more than the sum of its parts.

I’m leaning towards letting my future kids know that it’s a story. Does that make me:

What’s your opinion on Santa? Malicious lie or Fanciful fib?


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6 thoughts on “Santa (or should we tell children the secret?)”

  1. I don’t see it as malicious at all. I think it’s all what you make of it.

    I, for one, don’t see Santa as the guy in the red suit (well I do, because despots and all) but it’s also the whole helping others, making others happy, spreading the cheer feeling that’s supposed to accompany this season.

    Then again, I’m a theist, so I totally believe in God and Baby Jesus and the Virgin Mary and all that jazz. Unapologetically, too.

    Oh, and I have totally played the “I’m going to call Santa if you don’t smarten up!” card. I actually pretend-called him just last night because the Tiny Dictator is going through a real teenager phase, at the tender age of four.

  2. I felt lied to and betrayed when I found out Santa wasn’t real. Although I’m not a big fan of the Santa myth, I still went along with it for my kids because the rest of the family wanted to. When kids discover Santa (especially), the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are imaginary, what does this teach children about faith? If Christians who celebrate Christmas also teach their kids about God, heaven, etc, wouldn’t older kids be suspicious that these are also fairy tales? My daughter is 8 now and just learned the truth. I took the opportunity to emphasize that at Christmas, real people giving generously to others, and I explained the story of the real Saint Nicholas.

  3. I didn’t feel betrayed when my mom told me the truth. I just REALLY didn’t believe her. I argued with her as much as I had argued with the kids on the bus that afternoon. (Although, on the bus, I had back-up in the form of a good friend of mine. Her mother told her the truth that night as well.)
    I really like the spirit of giving that Santa evokes, but I really think that we can get that spirit just as much from a story as we can from a fictitious character that wiggles down our (nonexistent) chimney on December 24th.

  4. I love Santa Claus…I love the magic he brings to peoples lives…The sense of wonder and imagination. Even though I know the “truth” now, I can’t help but still imagine a real Santa Claus and really, we are all Santa Claus in some way of another. Having a piece of magic in our lives when we are young carries over into when we are older I think.

  5. Santa teaches children about the spirit of giving…someone who gives without expecting anything in return. I told the girls that when they were old enough to understand that they didn’t need “Santa” any more. Both of them reached a point where they didn’t know what to ask for but were totally involved in what they wanted to give other people…and that is when we told them. I do not think believing in Santa hurts a
    child and I think the benefits are very real.

  6. I was one of those firm believers whose dreams were crushed on the playground. I was in denial for a long time. I really wanted Santa to be real. As disappointing as it was, and still is, I wouldn’t take it back. I loved every Christmas I thought Santa would show up. It’s part of the magic of being a child. I also questioned the thought of disappointing my children, but the benefits outweigh the consequences. Just my opinion. It all depends on your child and your circumstances. They’ll understand one day and forgive me 🙂


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