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The Santa dilemma

Santa I exist

Do you Santa? Mollie Hemingway has a nice collection of tales from the poor deprived folks who never had Santa or who don’t do Santa for their kids.  It reminded me of this hilarious tale from the Deputy Headmistress about getting called out on the big Santa lie by her tiny daughter.

I don’t remember believing in Santa myself, but my mom tells the story of a three-year-old me waking up in the middle of the night to interrupt my parents assembling my gifts on Christmas Eve. That probably did it for me, but it’s all a little vague.  But I love the story of Saint Nicholas. I love Santa and reindeer and all of the magic.  So with our kids, we’ve tried to have our cake and eat it, too. We do Santa. We leave cookies and carrots, etc. “Santa” fills our stockings.  We watch all the Santa movies. But we’ve always been careful to say we pretend Santa. We’re big on pretend in this house, so what’s one more thing, right?

Except. . . for tiny people that doesn’t always stick, especially around Christmas. Santa is everywhere at Christmas, and the culture is intent on making him real for little kids. What that meant in our case is that our kids kept forgetting the pretend part of Santa. Even when we reminded them — sometimes repeatedly over a single season — they didn’t always seem like they believed us. In this case, the voice of culture was more convincing than our voices, probably because we are a little iffy with our “let’s pretend” nonsense whereas the culture is certain. There’s a lesson there somewhere.

Growing up, my grandfather would dress as Santa every Christmas Eve. We actually inherited the Santa suit when he died a few years ago. That actually has probably done the most in convincing our boys that Santa isn’t actually real because they recognize Dad when they see him whatever he’s wearing.
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Santa’s a little frisky, in case you were wondering.


Our kids are almost beyond Santa-believing age, and the dad in Santa suit has introduced a healthy dose of skepticism. Now we face another challenge: not spilling the beans to the believers. No wonder Christmas is a stressful time! The Deputy Headmistress has wisdom about that, too.

Do you Santa? How did you handle the reveal?

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