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The Truth About Santa

This was originally an e-mail response to a question about the pros and cons of pretending to be Santa: Christmas magic vs. lying to your kids.

I was completely uncomfortable lying to my children, even about something like Santa (the tooth fairy does not come to our house, nor does the Easter Bunny), but I wanted to do Santa anyway.

I made no secret of the fact that it was Mom and Daddy doing the actual work. My kids definitely know that the Santas at the mall are regular people pretending to be Santa.

Well, Christmas before last, when I casually said something about the presents really being from Mom and Dad, my daughter said something along the lines of "I know mom, but would you quit saying it because I like believing that Santa is real."

I do think that there is a crucial way in which Santa IS real, and I always talked about that with my children as well, and I still do. Santa embodies a form of magic and love which is as real as anything else in the world.

While it is true that nobody in a red suit comes into my living room to leave toys, I believe that Santa is real.

I believe in Santa Claus.

A few random thoughts come to mind here....

It seems to me that a strong part of human behavior is to take the mystical and translate it into something accessible. Santa does precisely that.

Santa is the mythological expression of a parent's selfless, joyful love for his children. A delightful gift, it seems to me, to not only be able to create magic, but to participate in it.

I love Christmas. It is absolutely my favorite time of the year. I transform the house and I live in a magic wonderland for weeks. I have a largish collection of Christmas videos, including all of the animated puppet shows that were done in the sixties.

My favorite is The Year Without a Santa Claus. There is a song in which makes me cry just thinking about it, let alone hearing it. Here's an excerpt:

"I thought I had grown too old, for such a childish rhyme.
He became a dream to me, 'til one Christmas night,
someone stood beside my bed, with a beard of white.

'So you're too old for Santa Claus,' he said with a smile,
'Then you're too old for all the things, that make a life worthwhile.
For what is happiness but dreams, and do they all come true?
Look and me and tell me son, what is real to you?'"

I'm comfortable there. Santa may be a dream.... he may not be a dream that "comes true", but he is certainly a true dream...a dream that brings joy.

Now, you'll have to excuse me while I go find the Kleenex box.

Related Resources

The Year Without a Santa Claus
Warner Studios, unrated.
Features: Color, Closed-captioned, Animated, NTSC.

Warner Studios, unrated.
Features: Color, Animated.

Christmas and Santa Claus
A Christian article arguing that parents should not lie about Santa Claus as this will eventually cause their children to have a crisis of faith in Jesus.

How I Told My Kids the Truth About Santa Without Robbing Them of the Joy of Christmas
One mother's story of how she handled this dilemma.

It's OK to Lie About Santa
An article about ways to handle the Santa myth with children at different ages.

Should you tell your child the truth about Santa Claus?
A Parent Soup parent debate about Santa Claus. There are a couple of hundred responses from different families.

Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus
The famous 1897 New York Sun editorial by Francis P. Church.

Christmas 2002
Our family's daily Christmas activities for 2002.

Christmas 2003
Our family's daily Christmas activities for 2003.

Christmas Traditions
Traditions and rituals we've developed in our family.

Non-religious Christmas
Celebrating Christmas in a non-Christian family.

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