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?

Related Links:
Do You Believe in Santa, Mommy?
Who Needs Santa Claus?


Santa Claus
Santa Claus5 years ago

Dear Lissa: It may interest you and your readers to know that my legal name is Santa Claus. I serve as a volunteer advocate for the 2 million children in the U.S. annually who are abused, neglected, exploited, abandoned, homeless, and institutionalized in our great nation. I'm also a Monk and believe that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, not the crass, commercial, secular spectacle it has become in many places, and that the greatest gift one can give is love, not presents. Blessings to all, Santa (TheSanta(im))

Mary Martin
Mary Martin7 years ago

Believe in your dreams be it Santa,Easter Bunny or whatever,we all need something, They are harmless, never did us any harm,In our house we STILL have pressies from Santa and we are adults, have fun in giving to others like Santa.

Marlena M.
Marlena Machol7 years ago

Information is power. Don't lie to kids.

Dorota L.
Dorota L7 years ago

Thank you, Lissa, for wrestling with these difficult issues. To us, mom and two teenage girls, Santa transformed over the years. He was an actual jolly dude in a red suit at first. Then questions started (like how come there are so many different Santas at all the malls?) and the Santa story evolved. He was magical, that is how he was able to deliver so many presents to so many children around the world and he did not need a chimney. They the family, everyone who loved the girls was a Santa representative and very honoured to be. Now Santa is the spirit of giving, love and selflessness. Those are very much tied to Baby Jesus and the miracle of a tiny, helpless hope that changes the world. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, and Happy Holidays to those who celebrate differently. Bless.

Past Member 7 years ago

the problem doesn't seem to be your daughter or her imagination as much as it seems to be you and your have no problem passing along beliefs in anything else...why this one?? because it's so commercial? possibly...but perhaps before you toss the baby out with the bathwater you might consider telling your daughter the ancient story of saint nick and how he only wanted to offer help and bring happiness to those with so's a story of giving, of charity, of openness, of can even tie it into the story of the nativity...but that too has become so commercial, so maybe not....

Whin A.
Whin Audrey7 years ago

c'est magique Noel , je garde mon âme d'enfant ;)

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman7 years ago

Fantasy fun is great :-) Eventual truth at the right time is good. Each person knows when the right timing is. thanx

Debbie M.
Debbie Miller7 years ago

You know this does tramatize kids maybe many do ok. But as a school teacher I had a boy who cried to me that he found out that Santa and the Easter Bunny weren't real even tho his parents had told him they were and now he was afraid that God may not be real either. Very sad to do this to kids!

Victoria S.
Victoria S7 years ago

Everyone finds out eventually and doesn't get traumatised so I wouldn't worry about it... and I think everyone still gets to keep the wonderfull memories of how excited and happy they felt when they did believe in Santa

Loo Samantha
Loo sam7 years ago

thanks for the article.