I simply can’t stomach lying to my kids about much of anything, let alone Santa Claus. Here’s why I don’t lie to my kids about Santa and how I manage to keep the magic of Christmas alive sans The Bearded One.
I was raised in a Jewish household, but spent more time in a Catholic church than most Catholics, since my parents are both liturgical musicians. Aside from my first two years of schooling which took place in a private Jewish school, I went to public schools and was most often the only Jewish person in my grade (sometimes the only Jew in the whole school!). I was no stranger to Christmas and Christian traditions as I was surrounded by them through most of my childhood. That said, my parents never told me about Santa Claus until the one day I was accidentally made to believe…
Sitting in a public school classroom in New Jersey, days before Christmas, we sang Christmas songs as a class. Many of them I knew from going to church for my parents’ work, some of them I didn’t know. I’ll never forget: You’d better watch out…he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake. I was petrified! This song described an old man who knew what I was doing all the time and was watching me sleep! Imagine how scary that would be for a little girl who had never heard such a thing.
My parents explained the myth of Santa Claus to me that afternoon. They told me that some children and some parents choose to believe the story of Santa because it makes Christmas fun. I understood but I’m pretty sure I told everyone at school the next day that Santa was a myth. I don’t actually remember doing so, but I was the child who told everyone where babies come from so it stands to reason I also burst the Christmas bubble.
My childhood was just fine without believing in Santa Claus. Yes, I received presents for the holidays and I loved decorating my best friend’s tree with her in high school, singing Christmas songs and eating Christmas cookies. And yes, one of my favorite drinks is eggnog with a splash of whiskey. I absolutely partake in the magic of Christmas and I have never once felt like I was missing out because I didn’t believe that Santa was the one who was bringing my presents.
For my children, we’ll read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and explain that Papa Noel is a fun story that some of us choose to believe because it’s fun to pretend. Kids love to play pretend and it doesn’t ruin anything if they know that they’re actually playing and it’s all pretend. Think of your baby dressed up like a firefighter, she knows she’s not an actual firefighter but pretending she is one is what makes it fun.
We’re making Christmas cookies and enjoying Christmas movies on television and Grandma and Grandpa will exclaim, “Look what Santa brought you!” to my daughters on Christmas morning. All that is wonderful and I love that we do those things. I’m not missing out and neither are my kids. And while I understand other parents’ desires to make Christmas as magical and special for their little ones as possible, the Santa myth just isn’t for us. The fact that I’m not lying to my children about Santa Claus hasn’t ruined their holiday, or mine.