In an effort to not bore you to death with details of my exhausting Christmas travels this year, I propose a question that I’m sure parents around the world are faced with constantly throughout the holiday season: should you lie to your kids about Santa Claus?
I ruined Santa for myself. Seriously. When I was in the second or third grade, I asked Santa for Addison the American Girl doll. I loved Addison, and I wanted her to be mine, up until about two days before Christmas. As I listened to all of my friends talk about how they had asked for different dolls before Christmas break, it was hard to resist the pull of Kirsten and her braids and Felicity, with her glamorous blue dress and red hair. I started to rethink my decision. I broached the topic with my mom who informed me that it was too late to change my mind since Santa had already wrapped and packed all of our toys for the year. Defeated, I walked away thinking to myself there had to be another way.
So on Christmas Eve, I sat alone in our play area of our walk out basement, next to the kitchen and the workbench, and I made a pact with Santa. I told him that if he brought Felicity instead of Addison, I would believe in him, but if I got Addison instead of Felicity, then I knew there was not a Santa Claus. Because I knew that if there was a Santa, he could hear my midnight pleas. Sure enough, Christmas morning came, and though I was thrilled with Addy, I knew there was no Santa. I never mentioned this to my mom, because I’m sure she would have tried to talk me out of my decision. I know the whole letter system would have been brought up, and something about telling her since she was Santa’s liaison. But I was resigned, and thus ended my relationship with Kris Kringle.
Being the oldest of six kids, with the youngest one turning nine this year, we still keep up the Santa facade, but I wonder if they still believe. I haven’t brought up the topic with them, for fear that I may ruin their lives. But how long do we expect our kids to believe? And should we lie to them to keep the spirit alive?
My fifteen year old sister asked my dad a few years back if there was a Santa Claus. She had heard kids at school talking and wanted the facts. He straight up told her no. For some reason, I was taken aback by this. I’m not sure what I expected to happen, but I don’t know how I would have handled it either. If we start to lie, when do we stop? Do we break the cruel, hard truth to them eventually, or let them figure it out on their own? With so many kids on the internet now, it’s hard to believe that any of them really accept Santa Claus as real. As a kid you always want to be older, but as an adult, I want kids to stay young! I want them to believe in Santa and reindeer and the north pole. I want them to believe that there’s a possibility of being on the naughty list, because every year before the American Girl incident, I was terrified that I would come down the stairs to a lone box with a lump of coal. The possibility made the mounds of presents that much sweeter, that much more triumphant.
Maybe it’s just me, but even though the joy I’ve derived from the holidays has slightly diminished as an adult (more responsibility, more traveling, more money, more stress, etc.), I still want my kids to believe in Santa. I haven’t decided if I’ll be lying to them or not, but it’s some food for thought.