Our motto for parenting has kinda always been that “We aren’t raising a cute child; we’re raising a responsible adult.” So, on all the “big stuff” we try to have a well thought out plan on how we’ll handle situations….. Who am I kidding, I hate surprises, I have a well thought out plan on for everything. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always go according to plan. But, that’s a whole other story, back on track….
Our oldest is 9, chasing down 10 in a few days. Entering her last year of elementary school, too smart for my own good. She asks lots of big questions, she understands more than she should about life. She’s a pretty black and white logical thinker. And, unfortunately, she’s been circling that question parents hate to answer for some time, “Is Santa real?” I could go into another whole dynamic on Santa and Christmas, but I won’t. We’ll just say that our family celebrates Christmas, and we do Santa Claus. He isn’t a real big deal at our house, as we’re also 3 gifts were good enough for Baby Jesus, 3 gifts are good enough for our kids Christmas people also. We do the damn Elf on a Shelf, I hate that thing, but we have 2…. So, here’s how it went down last night. I’m working on my computer, tired, trying to get things finished for the day. Lexi Kate comes up to me, look me right in the eye with a glare only she can give. “Quit lying to me. I’m almost 10 years old. Santa isn’t real.” I didn’t know whether to cry or vomit. I just looked over at Jeff. I bought us a few minutes to get her out of the room. Then I asked, what did we do with that letter, it’s time. I found the letter, we re-read it to make sure it was what we wanted to say. I locked LK in my room so Sam wouldn’t interrupt, and we came clean….
Dear Lexi Kate,
You’ve asked many times, “Is Santa real?” “Are you and Daddy Santa?” “Are the elves real?” “How do they move around?”
So, now it is time to explain. Yes, Santa is real, just not exactly as you have believed. Santa got his origins from the Legend of Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas was born around 280 in the area near Turkey. He gave all his inherited wealth away taking care of the poor and sick, primarily children. December 6th was declared Saint Nicholas Day to commemorate his death. Santa Claus made his way to America in the 1770s. The name Santa Claus evolved from Saint Nicholas’s Dutch name Sinter Klaas. Other countries have legends of Kris Kringle, his name was transformed from Kristkind, meaning Christ Child. In 1822 a minister wrote a poem for his daughter titled “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas”. This poem described much of what we think of Santa today. (Jolly old man in a red suit with little elves helping him at the North Pole.) Between the 1820s-1840s shopping malls began their commercializing of Christmas with holiday sales and “live” Santa Claus’s in their stores each December. The story of Rudolph was created in 1939 by a writer for Montgomery Ward department store. All of it centered around Christmas, as Santa was bringing gifts reminding us all of the greatest gift we’ve ever been given- The Christ Child born on Christmas Day. So, NO, I am not Santa; Dad is not Santa. There is no one, single Santa either. Santa is a legend of good things living in the hearts of others.
Mom and Dad are the ones that fill your stockings, and put out your Christmas gifts. We do this because we believe in the magic of Christmas and Santa. Our parents did this for us, and you will likely choose to do it for your children some day.
However, putting out gifts could never make us Santa. Santa is people who keep the Spirit of Saint Nicholas alive. He lives in our hearts, not at the North Pole. Santa is the magic of love and the spirit of giving to others. What he does is teach children to believe in something they can’t see or touch. Throughout life, you will need this capacity to believe in things you can’t see, things you can’t measure, things you can’t touch, things you can’t quiet understand.
Now you know the secret of Santa. How he gets into all those houses on Christmas Eve. He has help from all of the people whose hearts he has filled with joy. With full hearts, people like mommy and daddy take our turn helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible. So no, we are not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. It will probably make you a little sad to lose some of the magic you once believed now that you know the secret. But, now you know a different kind of secret. You get to help spread the joy as a member of Santa’s team. We ask that you keep Santa alive for your brother and all your friends that haven’t yet discovered the true meaning of Santa and how his magic works through the hearts of others. A child has to be ready to understand this kind of secret. And, it is each child’s parents responsibility to explain this truth. So, keep the joy and magic in your heart as you keep the secret alive for others.
And, yes that means our elves are just little stuffed dolls that mom and dad move around the house each night. Which means, I need to ask for forgiveness. I should not use a doll to manipulate or trick you into behaving one month out of the year, out of fear they will tell Santa. And, I shouldn’t use a fake elf to make you feel bad for not doing what you should. It is mom and dad’s job to teach you to obey and hold you accountable when you don’t; every day of the year. Your gifts from Santa aren’t conditional on your behavior. The whole concept of Christmas is based on the love of our Savior who was born in that manger just so He could die on the cross and take all our shame and condemnation for sin. We don’t have to earn the gift of salvation, and you don’t have to earn the gifts of Christmas. You do however have consequences for your actions on a daily basis.
But, know beyond a shadow of any doubt that Christmas is about celebrating the gift of Christ in a manger. The legend of Santa is kept alive as a reminder to be lovers of others, givers of good gifts to those who need them, and to spread kindness and joy to all every day of the year. So, although Santa isn’t a man in a big red suit putting out toys only for good girls and boys; we very much believe in Santa and the goodness he brings. And, when you quit believing in Santa that joy will fade. May you always keep Christ in Christmas and believe in the magic of good ole St. Nicholas.
Mom and Dad
She cried. I cried. We hugged. It was terrible, it was perfect. Pretty much like every other day of parenting. It’s hard. We struggle and pray we are making the right decision in the moment, and we move forward trusting our gut.