I love Christmas. I mean, I love Christmas. Even before Thanksgiving, I’m getting into the spirit, singing Christmas carols, looking forward to decorating the house, preparing gifts, baking tasty treats. To me, Christmas is all about festivity, family, friends, great food, cookies, presents and cold weather. I’m definitely not a Scrooge. No “Bah, Humbug” from me. I tell you this to give you context for what I’m about to write.
I don’t believe in lying to my kids about Santa. Early on, my husband and I had a discussion about Santa and what we’d tell our kids. It’s a rare occasion when I feel that lying to your kids is okay, and this, for me, didn’t qualify. Sure, you could continue the ruse as long as possible, seeing the joy in their face, them experiencing the “magic” of Christmas, but inevitably they would find out the truth and find out that you lied to them. Then they would hate you for killing Santa. So for me it is all about trust and honesty.
While I feel very strongly about this, apparently my husband felt more strongly in the other direction (or he did, years ago), feeling that Santa Claus was part of our American mythology. So he told our daughter that there was a Santa Claus. I would have nothing to do with it. I informed him that he’d have to deal with any fallout once she did figure it out. And figure it out she did. Quickly. A couple of years later, our incredibly logical child came to a realization while we were in the car driving somewhere. We were talking about the holidays, and our daughter put two and two together and realized that we were Santa. There was no actual man with a red suit and a white beard. There was much crying. Much crying. Then there was more crying. Naturally, this happened in such a way as to prevent my husband from being able to deal with the consequences, since he was driving. My daughter took after me in the figuring-it-out-early camp. I remember figuring it out when I was a kid, too. I was probably about 6 or 7, and logically worked it out, then extrapolated to the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy. I ruined it all for my older sister.
Since our daughter figured out the truth before our son was old enough to really participate in the illusion, he never really thought Santa was real. Now, because everyone in the family knows the truth, we all pretend together. To me, this is much more fun than having to sneak around behind their backs. The kids and I talk about Santa like he’s real, but all the while knowing that he isn’t. They fully participate in the Christmas season with me.
To me, this doesn’t take anything away from celebrating the Christmas season. Being honest with my kids means much more to me, and to them, than any fantasy.
[This article was originally published on GeekDad on Christmas Day, 2010.]