Mommy, Is Santa Real?
What do you say when your child asks, “Is Santa Claus Real?” It’s a great opportunity talk about what real magic is!
If you have kids and Santa comes down your chimney, sooner or later you’re going to have to reveal one of the worlds best kept secret. This secret has been passed on from generation to generation for hundreds of years, and has been kept quiet amongst even the youngest in our population. The secret is that Santa Claus isn’t real.
Perhaps you can recall your own revelation. Your big brother told you. You saw you parents in the night. It just no longer made any sense. It never occurred to me that my own child was wrestling with this question that is until one day she came to me with eyes of wonder and a desire for truth with that age old question.
“Mommy, Is Santa Real?” my daughter asked as I was reading my book. My mind searched for an answer. I remember learning in a child psychology class that before you answer the BIG questions in life like about sex; you first need to find out what they think and where they stand. Don’t assume anything!
“Well, honey,” I replied, “what do you think?”
“I don’t know,” she said with a perplexed look about her. Then she said with an innocence only a child can carry. “If there is no Santa, then that means that you’re lying, and you and daddy would never lie to me, right?” Ouch, the truth hurts. At that moment, I wasn’t ready to reveal the truth. I needed more time, so I did what any parent would do in the same situation, I changed the subject. “Darling, didn’t I tell you to clean your room. Now!”
Phew. I got away with that one… for now. Is it lying? Is it a lie to feed our children the wonder and delight that Santa brings to their lives. Isn’t it good to believe in magic? Doesn’t it add sparkle to life? Isn’t that what childhood is all about? Or, are we just prolonging the inevitable. To tell my daughter would be to chisel at her innocence. Innocence is such a blanket of comfort when we are young. It lets us believe that anything’s possible. What do I do?
I wait. A few days later she brings the question to me again. “Mommy, Is Santa real?” My head knows what I must do, but my heart feels the pain of the undoing.
“Let’s sit down.” There’s only one way to say it, “Honey, Santa Claus is not real.”
Pause. Long pause. Painful pause. Then my sweet little girl runs from the room into her room crying. I follow her to her room as she sobs in her pillow. I rub her back to comfort her as I’ve done so many times. “I’m sorry sweetie.”
Then we talk and everything makes sense to her. All the kids at school that told her Santa wasn’t real. Her friend Dianne who said Santa was really her father. All the times she had seen Santa at the mall or at school or at a restaurant and wondered why he looked a little different every place we saw him, and then how in the world could one man go to so many houses in one night. Impossible. I sat with her while her world shifted. I told her she was growing up and that I was proud of her. We talked about how Santa could still be real. That he represented a magic that can never disappear, the magic of love. I told her that it was important not to tell other people. Then I asked her a critical question which changed the mood of the moment from disheartened to joyful. I said, “When you have kids what will you do?” I find in moments such as these it helps our children gain perspective when we put them in our shoes. It didn’t take her long to answer, “Mommy, Santa’s in my heart and so he will always be real.” That’s the truth!