Is Santa Real? What To Tell The Kids
Someone in the Owning Pink community recently asked:
ďHow do you view Santa? Am I the only one who feels odd telling my daughter who never believed in Santa to keep the truth to herself? I feel so torn on this subject. I need some great Pink advice.Ē
I was inspired to write about this and invite the rest of you to join in on this conversation.
Call me Scrooge, but I’ve never been much of a Santa fan.
Donít get me wrong. I love creatures unseen and unproven. Bring on the tree nymphs, angels, dragons, leprechauns, witches and wizards, trolls, unicorns, and the Loch Ness Monster. My four year-old daughter is currently mired in a world of fairies. She writes notes for fairies, and they write back to her on scrolls on parchment. She leaves them gifts and they return the favor. They visit her in her dreams, sleep in bed with her, and she even dressed up as one for Halloween. So Iím all about supporting my childís imagination.
But Santa has just gotten so commercial. The lovely St. Nicholas story that inspired the Santa Claus mythology has become bastardized into a $15 photo in a shopping mall and holiday decorations that now deck the halls long before Halloween. Plus, Santa just seems like a distraction from what Christmas is all about. Wasnít Christmas the day the baby Jesus was born? In our politically correct world, are we so uncomfortable with this religious holiday that weíve had to create some benign, essentially meaningless ďnaughty or niceĒ alter ego conscience just to lord over our children in December so they donít get coal in their stockings? I mean seriouslyÖ
Somehow, Santa just doesnít seem so magical to me anymore. But certainly, heís harmless. So yes, I shell out the $15 for that Santa Claus photo op and listen intently while my four year-old daughter Siena tells Santa what she wants for Christmas. (Incidentally, she wants ďA princess whose head comes off and when it does, she dances beautifully.Ē Uh.. where can I get one of those, please? Santa?)
I guess I’m ambivalent about the whole thing.
Which is probably why Siena doesnít really give a flip about Santa. Weíve never told her Santa is a figment of Hallmarkís imagination, and as far as I know, no other child has broken the bad news. But she does know enough to ask her Nana for that tricked out pink bicycle she wanted, rather than waiting to sit on Santaís lap.
Iíve never really encouraged the whole Santa Claus thing. Sheís in a Waldorf school, so we donít watch TV and get bombarded by the media with white puffball red hats and such. But weíve let the collective Santa fantasy ride.
So what would I do if she discovered the truth and wanted to tell all the other kindergarteners? Good question.
After all, Iím the founder of Owning Pink. Iím all about being ALL YOU, ALL THE TIME and speaking your truth. Iím a believer in being authentic and letting your freak flag fly. I discourage half truths and conformity and pretending to be something youíre not. So should I tell my daughter to lie for the sake schoolyard peace?
Itís not that Iíd ask her to get all excited and fake it. Itís not that Iíd want her to buy into the well-intended white lie if she didnít believe it to be true. But thereís a fine line between being authentically, truthfully YOU and risking someone elseís joy and well being.
If my daughter discovers the truth about Santa before her peers do, I think I’ll her this:
You know how we read stories that are make believe and you pretend to be a fairy sometimes? You know and I know that youíre not really a fairy–youíre a little girl–but we do these things because make believe brings us joy and make us smile. Believing in Santa makes some children very happy. So even though you know the truth about Santa, itís best if you keep the secret to yourself.
Some secrets arenít good to keep. Keeping them hurts people. But other secrets make people happy–like when we surprise you by taking you to Disney World or giving you a party for your birthday. Santa is like one of those secrets.
Many of us believe in things we canít prove really exist. Just like you and I believe in God and angels, some people donít- and thatís okay. But it makes us happy to believe in God and angels, and if weíre wrong, and God and angels donít really exist, we might not want to know, right? The same goes for Santa.
You can always tell me the truth–about anything. Here at home, your secrets are safe. But when youíre with other kids who believe in Santa, letís enjoy helping them feel happy, okay?
Would I feel like a fake for asking my daughter not to be completely authentic at school? Am I squelching her from being ALL HER, ALL THE TIME? No. Iím teaching her about compassion, and encouraging her not to be constrained by truth but to be respectful of it and the consequences of what telling the truth can mean.
Itís a fuzzy line, though! And I havenít had to face it yet. What about the rest of you? What do you do when your kid busts you for putting a ribbon around the bicycle he asked Santa for? What do you say when her friend tells her Santa isnít real? Do you argue with your kids? Try to convince them they made a mistake? If your child discovers the truth young, how do you keep them from causing a riot at school? How do you encourage them to stay PINK in the process? How do YOU stay authentic to who you are while allowing your children to enjoy living in fantasy?