I Told My Kids The Truth About Santa But They Don’t Believe Me

I’m sure there are people on earth who celebrate Christmas more than my mother, but there can’t be many. She decks the halls from November through January with vintage Christmas villages, Nativity scenes and snowmen. One year we had four Christmas trees each with a different theme. She has dozens upon dozens of folk Santas she’s collected at antique stores. Each year, the Christmas decorations expand and get better. Growing up, my parents would pile gifts under the tree. I couldn’t believe how blessed I was as we opened up gift after gift.

And yet I never had a moment where I learned the devastating truth about Santa. Why? Well, I was never told that he was real. I always knew he was pretend.

I mean, we weren’t anti-Santa. Far from it. We took pictures on his lap and we pretended that the gifts were from him. But we never “believed” in him. And my siblings and I all turned out fine. When we gave each other gifts, we always pretended they were from Santa or other people. My brother’s go-to gift giver was, oddly, “Dave Matthews.” Each year, Dave Matthews got me the nicest gifts. It still makes me laugh.

I should mention that my parents always told us that some kids believe in Santa and it’s rude to tell them otherwise. So we kept quiet on the playground and consoled our friends as they reached the ages where the horrible truth came out.

I’m a big fan of this approach to Santa. My parents love Christmas and they even love the non-religious aspects of the holy day the decking the halls parts but the Santa pretense was just something they weren’t going to do. And probably a good thing. We grew up in California, without a chimney. No snow. No reindeer.

Anyway, I am mildly weirded out by the emphasis on mystical Santa. I know, I know, you all love him and teach your kids he’s real and it’s this big group thing we’re all supposed to participate in. Great. I have no problem with that. But I never participated in it and I see no reason to start with my children. Besides, we celebrate St. Nicholas day on December 6 (he’s the Bishop of Myra whose generosity is the basis for the legend of Santa Claus) and it gets too confusing to teach kids the difference between St. Nicholas and Santa Claus and December 6 and December 25 all while keeping a proper focus on the birth of Christ.

So I’ve always told them that Santa is someone who is pretend, but that there are these great stories about him.

Here’s the thing: They don’t believe me. I mean, not even close. They refuse to believe me.

My four-year-old will flat out fight me on the matter. She knows Santa is real because she’s seen him (at a Christmas tree farm last year. She saw him while screaming that she didn’t want to sit near him). Her other reasoning seems more aspirational than rational. She simply wants him to be real.

It never even occurred to me to dispute whether Santa was real or not in my home. I have absolutely no idea how to handle it. I mean, I’m not Santa obsessed, clearly, but neither do I feel the need to crush her hopes and dreams. I have no idea how this is going to end.

I’m sticking with my story about Santa. She’s sticking with her refusal to believe me. Oh well.

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