How do you tell your kid about Santa–or should you? | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

HOW do you tell your child about Santa Claus?


I asked Jack, my five-year-old, if he thinks Santa—aka Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, Santy—is real. He said yes. I was surprised, because I never really said so.


Although we read Christmas books depicting the jolly old bearded man in red, I’ve never spoken along the lines of “Be good or else you don’t get a gift from Santa.”


I consulted my husband Jason if he thinks we should now talk to the children about it. And he said yes, because it would add to the magic of childhood—remembering that he didn’t feel bad at all when he discovered the truth.


Personally I don’t see the point in introducing an idea that we might have to painfully undo in the future. I remember denying about having “known it all along” as a kid when the rude reveal came.


But at the same time, I don’t want Jack to be a spoilsport to his friends who are taught otherwise. I’m also not comfortable with the gift-centricity of it all.


How do today’s parents handle the idea of Santa Claus?


For parents who want to keep the tradition, Ana, mother of Tripp, 6, and Charlie, 1, said: “We read Christmas books. I helped Tripp write a letter. Santa wasn’t the big problem for me. It’s explaining why we didn’t have the Elf on the Shelf.”


Van, mother of Felix, 5, and Ellie, 11 months: “Through stories. When Felix turned 4, we started writing a letter to Santa. So tradition just started last year. Nothing fancy. I don’t put too much stress on Santa.”


Jay, father of Jason, 4, and Thomas, 1: “We didn’t really have to actively introduce Santa. Since he’s pretty much everywhere during Christmastime, Jason was exposed to him and they taught him in preschool, too.”


Too old for Santa?


Bing, mom of Bruce, 9, Erin, 2, and Elijah, 2 months: “For Bruce, Santa’s just the big, fat bearded guy who’s friends with Jesus and goes around every Christmastime to give out gifts. We put a sock on the tree for him on December 1, inserting little trinkets and gifts every day… and he thinks yung cookies blessed daw kasi nga friends si Santa at Jesus! He still believes, even at 9 years old. We’re going to reveal to him this Christmas that Santa is just us. He’s too old na, eh.”


M, mother of K, 10, did her own study: “I asked my siblings if they had introduced Santa to my nephews and nieces. As for my son, I told him to write Santa a letter. Dapat may options lagi, sometimes baka walang budget si Santa or out of stock na, hahaha. It was actually my way of knowing what gifts to give my son for Christmas. He always gets something from Santa and another from me.


“He still believes in him but lately he’s starting to ask if Santa is real. He even asked me if I’ve seen Santa. In time I will make him understand that Santa is really more of a symbol of sharing during this wonderful season, but it’s not about the gifts. It is about Jesus.”


When does she plan to lift the veil? “Malapit na. Kung hindi niya ma-figure out this year, maybe next year—13 years old max. Pero he has to keep quiet about it kasi may younger cousins pa siya who would still believe in Santa.”


Reality bites


But other parents prefer not to propagate the fantasy.


“I don’t remember introducing Santa,” said Ember, mom of Carlos, 10. “‘He’s not real,’” my son would say.”


Allan, dad of Allen, 9, and Carlo, 6: We didn’t introduce Santa; my wife Ava and I didn’t believe in doing so, although while I was growing up, my parents did, and I don’t recall how. Basta he was introduced as another gift-giver with the condition that you should be good (or else you’ll find sticks in your socks).”


“We never told our kids about Santa,” said Angge, mother of Santi, 8, and Rocco, 7. “I was honest with them from the beginning that Santa is fiction. I didn’t want to focus on gifts they can get but on being grateful with what they have and how they can share them with others.”


But how do you deal with bubble-bursting children who tell Santa believers that he isn’t real?


Bow, mom of Vinci, 13, Carlos, 7, and Rocio, 3, has this diplomatic reply handy: “As long as you believe in him, then he stays real.”


Via, mom of Nique, 9: “Let your children watch ‘Nightmare before Christmas’ (so they understand the roles) and ‘Rise of the Guardians’ (about children’s belief in characters like Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny).”


While Jason and I are still at an impasse on including Santa in our Christmas universe, the central message of the season remains: Christmas is about giving, and celebrating Jesus’ coming.