The Truth Is Better: Why I Tell My Kids Santa Is Fake

"But Mommy. Santa is real."

"No honey. Santa is not real."

"Yes he is."

"No, he's not," I say, laughing.

And this conversation went on for another minute--with instigating interjections from Samuel in an effort to egg on Trinity's imagination and fascination with Santa Clause. 5 and 4 year olds that want to believe. But, I just can't feed them a lie.

Growing up I never believed in Santa Clause. My parents never fed me the story about one man traveling in one night to deliver toys across the nation. Instead, our Christmas list went directly to our parents. I come from a Christian home. The story of Jesus, how his life is significant to mine, how he came to this world to die for us and how Christmas is supposed to be celebrated for his birth was amped up during this time. There was even a period of about 2-3 years where my family didn't celebrate Christmas the traditional way at all. My mother casts off the idea a pagan holiday ruling on behalf of Jesus and denounced the commercialization of what Christmas was (and still is) in American culture. 

I vividly remember one Christmas my younger brother and I waiting by my parent's bedroom door to the sound of them cutting wrapping paper. When they were done wrapping a gift, they would deliver it to one of us who would anxiously act as a runner and take it its final resting place under the Christmas tree where me and siblings would tear it to pieces the next day. Some Christmases, one sibling helped wrapped gifts for another, aiding to the excitement and secrecy of what was to come. We'd shake them, poke them and even tear off bits of paper trying to get a sneak peek.

None of the above ruined my idea of what the spirit of Christmas was about. I was never the child who crushed another kid's dream of Santa's false identity. The season of giving was not tainted for me. In fact, I would venture to say it enhanced it. Further, my parents didn't have to "unveil the truth" once they thought we were old enough to handle it. My parents working hard all year to provide us with the things we needed and wanted--should we give them the things they asked of us. What's wrong with that? Absolutely nothing.

That's why my husband and I teach our children these same values. Santa doesn't provide you with these things; you're family does. I treat Santa Clause like Dora, Mickey Mouse, Easter Bunny and Doc McStuffins--like fictional characters created for entertainment purposes only. She's taken pictures with Santa, watches Christmas movies about Santa and even talks about Santa. But it stops there. While the ideal of Santa is very real, I encourage her to remember the beauty of the season.

In a self-absorbed, narcissistic generation that is becoming more self-indulged by the milli-second, we've decided to instill in our children knowledge, understanding, hard-work, sacrifice, diligence and patience. Some might say, there's no "magic" in that. I'd like to challenge that. There's magic in teaching your children to wake up and give back to your community by feeding the homeless first before you're able to open your gifts. There's magic in showing your children that in order to get the things you want, learn to let go of the old things (i.e., the mountains of toys in your room you hardly play with). There's magic in knowing Christ's greatest mandate for us was to love God and to love people--no gifts attached. There's magic in knowing you can create memories with the ones you love that don't cost you one penny, nickle or dime. Love--pure love--is free. Love is better. This is better. The truth is better than Santa. 

I'd like to hear your thoughts parents. What do you tell your children about Santa and why?