I was one of those guys that swore off Santa Claus before I was a dad. Wasn’t gonna happen. My kids won’t believe in that stuff. Now I’m a dad. Our first son is nearly 3 and the second one will be here in April. Where do we stand? How do we handle it?
We tell the truth.
Santa Claus is like Batman, Captain America, or Buzz Lightyear . He has a lot of movies. Everyone knows who he is. But he isn’t real. He is pretend.
But what about when he isn’t pretend? What about when you can see him or talk to him? What about when he’s at the mall? That is a fat guy with a beard. Kids sit in his lap and talk to him, kind of like grandpa. He is pretending. Like when my son says he wants to fly like Buzz Lightyear and I pick him up and run across the house while he extends his arms and shouts “To Infinity and Beyond!” We are pretending.
Where do presents come from? People who love you, work hard for the money they use to buy them, and don’t cheat with pretend magic powers. You don’t have to earn your presents. It has nothing to do with being bad or good. It has everything to do with being cherished and probably a little spoiled. There’s nothing pretend about overtime, deadlines, and income taxes.
We pretend a lot in our house. We have bear hunts, and super hero adventures. We build snake guns out of Legos and block towers for the Ethan monster to destroy. And we have a blast.
I made a pledge never to lie to my kids. Not even “white lies.” I don’t tell him the super heroes we love are real. I don’t tell him Santa Claus is real. I don’t tell him eating his vegetables will make him big and strong like Hulk.
I never want to limit my ability to speak truth into his young and sponge-like mind and heart in a way that could undermine the BIG truths we already discuss on a regular basis. Things like love, generosity, kindness, (we recently had to tackle the notion of death and afterlife) and truth.
What about Jesus? We tell the truth. Christmas is all about celebrating the birth of Jesus. We have nativity scenes (at least 6 because my wife is Christmas-crazy). It’s important, we talk about it. But we don’t have to overcompensate. We don’t have to cram it down his throat in a half-guilty bid to outshine Santa Claus because Santa is never really part of the equation.
We might do it different than you. If you want to do the Santa thing go for it. Your house. Your rules. But we won’t. We don’t. And if I judge you a little bit for it, well—I’m only telling the truth.