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December 03, 2015


Julie Scotton

When my only child was in 2nd grade he let me know he didn't think Santa was real. It came out of the blue and I was not prepared. So I just said, Santa lives in your heart. We discussed the reality vs. the myth and it did break my heart that his magical belief was over. I was so caught off guard, and I'm a terrible liar too. Yes, I was disappointed but it was all fine. He didn't cry and he didn't stop enjoying Christmas. He passed away unexpectedly at 16, right after that Christmas. He had an underdiagnosed heart condition. I think about that day now and I have decided I did the right thing. I'm like you, Katie. I didn't want to do it, but I wasn't a fast enough thinker. And he didn't have any siblings to worry about. I did suggest, though, that he keep the secret for everyone else, as kids in his class might not believe him. :)

Sandi Z

When my eldest started questioning, we had a friend come to the house while we were visiting the in-laws for Christmas. We came home and "caught" Santa in the act. That gave us a couple more years.


I always told my kids the truth. "there was a man a long time ago who brought presents to some poor people....It's a fun story people like to tell at Christmas" and that sort of thing. What I found kind of funny is that they still went through a stage of believing in him. Probably due to the fact of getting to school and having their kindergarten teacher make a big deal about him. I didn't make a big deal about correcting them, but having 5 kids mostly two years apart, I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up the ruse indefinitely, so thought it better to tell the truth and not be caught lying to them.

Scharia Holguin

I enjoyed reading your post, as a mom of 3 little boys ages 5,3,2 who also struggled with the Santa thing I have recently told my 5 year old the truth about Santa. As my children were talking about Christmas one day my 5 year old had made a comment that Christmas was all about Santa I over hear him and corrected him that we celebrate Christmas to remember the birth of Jesus our Saviour, he than repeated its not about Jesus mom it's about Santa. Than I thought to myself, how can I let my children say that? How can I let them give this "Santa" all the credit? I can't continue to lie to my kid and ask him not to lie. I can't make them believe that a man with a big belly and a white beard is the reason we are able to give and receive on Christmas. I was tired of lying to him. I am blessed and alive because of Jesus, the one who died on the cross for our sins, the one who gave his life for ours. I'm not blessed and my husband isn't blessed with a good job just because some so called "Santa" comes around once a year and gives us gifts. No I am blessed because of Jesus! Everything we have we owe it to him. Telling my kid Santa isn't real that he is just make believe and some kids like to pretend and believe in because it's fun was the biggest relief ever. No my kid didn't just grow up too fast and no he didn't lose his innocence nor was it taken from him, my kid just gained WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE about the true meaning of CHRISTmas. I bought more children's books about the birth of JESUS for him to read I explained to him that Christmas is a blessing, a day to remember and to celebrate the true reason we live today because he lives in us! In the bible it states do not be of this world or the things in it, well Santa isn't in the bible and he is something this world created so in our home there isn't a place for him. I would prefer my kids to worship God and abide by his law and honor their mother and father and fear the Lord all year round because they honor him and all he is rather than worship this Santa once a year and be good for the month of December because if they don't this so called "Santa" won't bring them gifts. They no longer have to pretend "Santa" is watching and worry if they make a mistake they won't receive a gift because they know the real man who is watching is the man upstairs and he gave us the greatest gift of all, eternal life! 😊


I have to say, as a child, I became very angry with my mother when she continued to lie to me for the sake of my younger siblings after I figured it out. I felt like she thought I was stupid. For a few Christmases, I only have uncomfortable resentful memories. Once one of my children figures it out, I will have to tell them the truth and ask them not to tell their younger siblings.

Michele Gray

My kids actually met Santa, the real one, when they were five and seven about nine years ago. It was in March at the Dulles airport. We were on a red-eyed coming back from a visit to the west coast and Mr. Claus was apparently on the same flight. We were all a blurry eyed and were sitting getting organized after we got off the shuttle that takes you to the main terminal. This portly gentleman with a full white beard came over to my kids. He wasn't wearing the suit, but he did have a red baseball hat with an "S" and was wearing a red and white Hawaiian shirt. He told them he'd been taking a holiday with Mrs Claus in Hawaii. He also told them they were good boys but needed to do much better job of keeping their room clean and listening to mom—both completely true. He then gave them each his business card, and the boys remember that he knew their names. Today they are 14 and 16 and totally believe. As for the time and the physics of the whole thing, they tell me that obviously Santa is a time lord, like Doctor Who and the sleigh is his TARDIS. Not sure how this is going to work when they go off to college, though. A surprising number of their friends also still believe, if you can believe that. A teacher a couple years ago, assuming that children in the 6th grade certainly didn't believe anymore read her class a short story about a kid finding out about the big lie. My younger son wrote a scathing poem in response asserting his absolute belief and the teacher was astounded to find that more than half the class agreed with the young poet. She swore to me she would never make that mistake again.

Anyway, I work hard to keep the magic alive. I figure I owe it to that miraculous morning in the airport. Best of luck to you and your kids.

Jacob Peek

Thank you Katie for sharing your story which sounds so familiar to our own. Only 4 weeks ago now my 7 year old daughter came home explaining how another girl in her class said santa wasn't real. I quickly diverted the conversation and explained how silly the other girl must be not to believe. I hope they stay innocent as long as possible and always believe in the magic.

God Bless.

Nicole Brown

I have a 12 year old and a 4 year old and we don't say there's a Santa and we don't say there isn't! I asked my 12 year old if he will keep the Magic Alive for his little sister so he does. He talks to her about his memory of Christmas and suggests some cool ideas....making reindeer food with oats and paper rings to count down the days until Christmas!!!


Keeping Santa alive in the hearts of our children, grandchildren and us as adults is a challenge my family has work with for 50 + years.
Santa has arrived at our family's Christmas gathering for as long as I have memories of Christmas. As a father and grandfather I have helped keep the magic of Santa's kindness and gift giving deeply seated in hearts of our children by sharing the role of being Santa with my two brothers for over 30 years. As my uncles have done before us. When that inquisitive gleam in the eyes of your grandchild looks at you not wanting to really hear confirmation that her Santa is Uncle John, it's time for the parent to share a new secret with their child.
A secret that helps them understand why Santa can be in so many place as at the same time. On Christmas Eve Santa is given magical powers to be able to deliver presents to every one in just one nite. At other times during the holiday Santa has chosen a few very special persons to be his helpers bringing gifts and happiness to children and adults at this time of year.
Santa has chosen uncle John as one of his special helpers this year. Now ask the child to keep Santa's secret to themselves. And finish with this: who knows, you could be asked to help Santa one day.
A bridge has been created to keep the magic of Santa alive.
HO HO HO, Merry Christmas!


I have a fifteen year old in High School that still believes, there is nothing more precious than the innocence of a child, and I will hold on to that wonder and belief as long as I possibly can. There are people that say there is no way a child of that age can believe, but we as parents can keep that innocence as long as we choose or at least until the kids at school truly begin to win over. I have had the kids come home in elementary days and stated that a child that was 8,9 or 10 was saying their parents told them it wasn't true. How sad are you as a parent to destroy that one day for that child. There aren't many things in this world that we can hold onto as parents that allow our kids to wake up with excitement, amazement and wonder, why do we have to take that away so soon, life will hit them soon enough, let's enjoy the time we have!

Melissa Nasif

Great story! I have 4 kids, the oldest is 12, youngest is 5 months, so I needed advice on how to advise my oldest to allow her siblings the same magic of Santa that she got when she believed!

Craig Smith

Don't lie to your kids. Seriously, it is all about you. You are the one who is scared. He is seven. He is fine. You should reward his deductive reasoning.

Rebecca Boswell

Hi Katie!
I went through this same inner struggle when Maile started to be old enough to "buy into the story." I have always made it about magic and possibilities. We have also made it more about the 25 days of advent and elf magic showing up as little surprises throughout December (this started even before we knew about Elf on the Shelf!). She is in 3rd grade this year and already started asking questions about the whole thing a couple of years ago. When she started asking if it is all real, I would ask her if it was real to her and if she wanted it to be real. We talked about magic and how much we are able to create the magic by believing. We never came to "It's not real, it's just mommy," but rather were able to shift into a place of her enjoying the play of it and helping to make it fun for herself and Griffin, now 5. Sometimes I get she is giving me a kind of secret energetic wink, wink, nod, nod when she says certain things, and I get that the joy, the fun, and the magic creates more for all of us and makes this time of year something much more special than just holiday shopping and overeating :)


I think the link between the purported mythical figure of Santa and the purported mythical figure (by some) of Jesus need to be considered together when telling the stories. If you don't, trying to rebuild the trust around, "well Santa's not real but Jesus is" may be hard to win back. Perhaps the right message is:

"I don't know if all the details in the story are true, its kind of like the parables that Jesus tells, they may have happened or be generalizations of things that happened but not in exactly that way. The details aren't as important as the message they tell us about how to live. There's magic in Santa whether Santa is real or not. If you stopped believing the presents might still come but the magic would go away. I think it's more fun to believe."

Same goes for Disney characters, it's better with the magic. As for Jesus, I feel that Genesis has some problems but I believe that much of the Gospel is true and rather than pick apart the pieces that I don't understand I think it's better to believe. (Disclaimer: my belies are my own, I continue to develop them as I learn and grow. Also my first child is due in 3 months so my thoughts on broaching this subject are likely to evolve as I develop a relationship with my own child)


This was not a helpful article. I thought it would be about the struggle of being honest with your kids. Some children resent their parents for outwardly lying to them.


When our first child was born my wife and I talked about the believing in Santa thing. We made a decision to never lie to our children, including the smallest 'white' lie, so that they can never question whether we are telling the truth or not. At times when talking with our kids they’ll ask us 'is that true?' and we respond with 'have we ever lied to you?'.

In our family, mom and dad are the ones that give them presents on Christmas morning, teeth are left under the pillow where mom and dad leave a small present, mom and dad hide Easter eggs in the house and yard for them to find. They love it all. When my eldest was 5, someone asked her in that cute voice when talking to kids 'So, who is coming tomorrow?' and while she expected to hear ‘Santa’ as the response, my daughter excitedly replied 'All of the family.'.

Our kids know the history of Santa Clause and they know that when they see Santa that it is someone dressed up and making people happy. Some years we have Santa photos and each year I get dressed up as Santa to give the presents as something fun, but they know it’s me. They also understand that other kids may believe in Santa and if someone does then they must not tell them otherwise.

The challenge of telling our children the truth about such things is the judgement from other family members or parents who think that we are robbing our kids of the magical childhood experience they could otherwise have. Our kids experience everything magical about such occasions and I would argue that as a family we get more out of it because as parents we do not have the burden of the continuous management of the lie and the kids don’t have the horrible experience of hurt and confusion about whether such things are real.

My observations over the many years since I was 7 are that Santa is a representation of the presents to come, that Christmas morning to kids is about getting presents and having fun, not about Santa who is long forgotten when the first present is opened.

It is a tough personal decision some face and the main thing is that all have a merry Christmas.


I don't remember when I learned the truth about Santa. At some point, it just happened. But I have no recollection whatsoever of the discovery.

Maybe our children reach a point where they know but, just like us, they choose to keep the magic alive.

Reality is subjective. How aware are any of us? We fool ourselves every day in countless ways.

I think it's possible to answer all questions honestly without breaking the spell. The truth is, I am not Santa Claus. Santa Claus is much much bigger and more widespread. He has been around for generations before I was born and will be around for many more long after I am gone. He visits places around the world where I will never set foot. If you think about the reality of Santa Claus, it is pretty magical. It's a shared experience and culture and connection. The excitement and magic, the warmth and love that come from that connection. I can't do that. I may be able to put a gift under a tree, but that's not Santa. Santa takes all of us. It takes magic.

I also don't remember the specific gifts or stuff as much as I remember the magic. It feels like love. And where there is love, there is Jesus. So I don't see a conflict there, either.

I have learned some very hard lessons about humanity during the past year. As hard as it is for me to accept this, for some people, love and human connection simply don't exist. Not the way I experience it, at least. They may not feel the magic the same way I feel it. They may just see the toys. People exists all along a wide and shifting continuum with varied degrees of feeling magic and seeing toys.

I still believe in love, and I believe in Santa. I hope I always will.


My 12 yr old boys believe and I keep it alive - they are all about the traditions and preparations and now they can do things themselves like put the lights up !
My sons knows the spirit of the holiday lives in your heart but to believe in miracles is a gift even fabricated - it is the hope that many don't know or understand. Could it be?? I like to see that on thier faces in the morning. And the joy of family gatherings and giving to others - I would never want it any different!


The truth is only you can decide what is right for you and your family, but not everyone else. If you choose to not partake in the magical suspension of disbelief be kind enough not to ruin it for others or judge others. It kind of blows my mind that some people say they resented their parents for lying to them vs loving them for creating something very magical! I am all about celebrating the religious aspect above all and my 8 year old always asks Santa for things for other kids as well as her own list. I hope I still have many years left of her waiting for Santa and looking for her elf! I agree with many of the above comments - the ability to believe in miracles IS a gift! I think if and when my daughter finds out, she has a kind enough heart to not ruin it for mommy who truly believes!!!


My daughter is a beautiful, inquisitive, intelligent, and very mature child. She's in third grade this year, having just turned nine this past October. Sometimes when I'm talking to her I even forget how young she is.

When her first Christmas was coming up her father and I went back and forth over the Santa myth. I felt that we should never bring it into the house. When I was a child and found out that Santa wasn't real Christmas lost something, than Easter followed, than the tooth fairy, and so on. My thinking on the topic was that if these myths were never a part of our house hold there would be no magic to loose. The joy, thanks, and love that I felt every year since childhood on Thanksgiving came from love and family tradition, not a magical turkey.

My husband thought that I was insane! He was overwhelmed with anger and in the end I lost the battle. So the myths were carried on, every last one.

My daughter is a planner. Always looking ahead at the next holiday, even if it's six months away. This past summer around April, she looked at me with her soulful eyes and said
"Mama can I talk to you?"
"Sure baby girl, what's up?" I replied. Flitting my way to a seat at the dinner table.
She took a seat across from me, looking down at her finger nails as she fittled with them and said.
"I'm not mad and I'm not upset. I just don't know why you lied to me about Santa. Will you please tell me?"
My heart hit my stomach. I was shocked.
I looked at her.
"Honey, how long have you known?"
"Well, I caught you playing Easter bunny. Hiding the eggs and stuff in the night, and I guess I just put it all together. I just want to know why?"
I paused.... Thinking.... Than I told her the truth.
"Baby, there are traditions. Things we do every year, every day, or every moment. These are things that have been done for generations. Some of these traditions are things like the Easter bunny, Santa Claus, and the tooth fairy, they are ment to give children an experience that hopefully, once you are mature enough to catch on you'll understand that we did it out of love. To give you a taste of magic because I don't have special powers. It's important that you know that you have a responsibility not to take away anyone elses' experience. Your friends will know when they are ready."
She smiled at me! "Mama thank you so much for the experience of magic. Thank you for being my magician."
She went on to confirm that all of our traditions that we did every year if we would still do, baking cookies together, her Easter basket, the egg hunt, etc, I assured her that we would continue all of the traditions as before. She was excited to be a part of everything this year.

I was relieved, over the moon, and so very proud of her. We all know that being a parent doesn't come with a handbook.
However, sometimes, our hearts and the hearts of our children know exactly where to guide us, as a family and as humans.

Happy holidays everyone!
(I apologize if my auto correct decided to not correct again. Lol unfortunately I don't have time to proof read right now)


if your heart focusing on a God then you do not need Santa to make it better.You need clown on your birthday only if you do not know how to make it nicer without the clown. True miracle of Christmas is way more bigger then face "magic" of Santa.Do not lie to your kids "just to make it better" unless there is no Christmas for you without Santa


We told our children the truth that there is no Santa Claus in the way the modern day stories portray. We explained the history of Saint Nicholas... And how the story developed through the years. They think it's fun to know the truth and we've discussed them not telling other kids because most kids believe the story of the modern day Santa. We also tell them that adults will assume you believe the story of Santa and will talk to you that way and they just smile when adults ask if they are excited for Santa to come. My kids have asked "why" many times about why kids believe the story and why parents would tell their kids that if it wasn't true. My kids are still super excited about Christmas and they tell me repeatedly!! :) They still have the excitement, joy and anticipation for the season and the day.
We still do the Christmas morning gifts. We don't put out any gifts until they go to sleep on Christmas Eve and we put the gifts out before the kids wake up so they still wake up to the surprise of a Christmas tree filled with gifts. They love it - but they know the gifts come from us.
I would end there but I will also add that I just felt it was against my values to (sorry to say this if it sounds harsh) lie to my kids because if I lied to them about something like that how could they believe anything I said. If they were to seek me for knowledge, to teach and train them, I want them to know that they can trust what my husband and I say are true.
(Ps: Amen! Scharia ;)


"I have a fifteen year old in High School that still believes,"

"My 12 yr old boys believe and I keep it alive "

C'mon, people. Adults are reading this.

Caramella Butterscotch

When I was really little I believed in Santa clause and then I remember in maybe 2nd or 3rd grade someones older sibling saying it wasn't true and when I asked-- my mom's answer was a solid one for me. She said " there is a spirit of Christmas that is real". and for some reason that satisfied me completely! It was a mystery that I had to think about as I then thought there was a literal real spirit (like a ghost). so I chewed on that for a few years.

All good. I always liked Christmas.


My son is 10 years old and I believe by the age of 9 he knew Santa was US, but I explained it in a way that we are his elves because there are so many other kids that need him in their presence. I still look forward to the holiday and it will always be special to us.


Keep it simple. Don't add too many details you can't sustain year to year. Keep it going as long as it seems appropriate. Playing the role of Santa is as important to childhood as folks who give out Halloween candy each year. If no one plays along, it all goes away and it's no fun. I think of it as planning the perfect murder every year. Leave no trace and no clues :)

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