The Truth about Santa (Spoiler alert)

Kyle at age 2 and "some strange old dude"

Editor’s Note – Because this is a holiday week, our Relationships post has been written by our Sense and Centsibility author, Jenn Wallis.  It’s a Christmas parenting story. About Santa.

For years, we went to great lengths to make sure my oldest son Kyle kept believing that Santa is real. After he would go to sleep on Christmas Eve, my husband Justin would get out one of his Doc Marten’s boots from the 90’s (that he still wears – but that’s fodder for another blog) and imprint the sole into the fireplace ash and on the hearth, as proof that Santa had come down the chimney.  Justin would even go out into the driveway and make a few muddy reindeer hoof prints.  We’d take bites out of the cookies and pour out a little of the milk to look like Santa had sipped it (it had been sitting out for hours, after all).

Bright and early on Christmas morning Kyle would bounce out of bed, thrilled that Santa had come and brought him his heart’s desire. He’d rip open all of his presents. Then, he’d marvel at the evidence that Santa had left behind, proving his existence, once and for all. Whew! We would be safe from the questions for another year. Kyle has some older friends and one who doesn’t celebrate Christmas at all, so as he grew older, his questions of the plausibility of this whole Santa story became more complex and harder to explain to our precocious child.

Last year, the end finally came. I braced myself for the barrage of questions (“Mom, there are billions of people in the world. How can Santa make it to everyone’s house all in one night?” “If elves make all of the toys, why can’t I have a PS3 and an Xbox? I mean, it’s free to Santa, right?”) I had already decided that if he asked me again, I was going to tell him the truth. He was 9 years old and many of his friends already knew the truth. I didn’t want him to be like Brittany on Glee, still believing and looking like a gullible sucker far into his high school years. The kicker was when I overheard him tell a friend that he knew Santa was real because his mom would never lie to him. Gulp! So, when he asked me again if Santa was real, I told him the truth. It was heartbreaking for me, mainly because it meant he wasn’t that little anymore.

He sat there, blinking, his mind whirring as he connected all of the dots. “So, the boot prints… you made those? The presents, cookies, reindeer hoof prints…all of that was you?”

“Yes, Kyle,” I confessed.

“OK, Mom, thanks for telling me the truth,” he calmly said as he went off to his room to process this informational bombshell further.

A few minutes later he emerged from his room with more questions. ‘OK so let me get this straight, you were doing all of this Santa stuff the whole time because he isn’t real, right? Yet, you take me to see ‘Santa’ every year and to have my picture made. So, basically, this entire time, you’ve just been sitting me in some strange old dude’s lap?”

We both had a good laugh after that and I knew he would be just fine. I explained why we tell the Santa story and reminded him of all of the fun we had believing in something as magical as Santa. I also explained the importance of continuing to believe in the spirit of Santa, even if there isn’t really some jolly old guy flying around in a sleigh. Then, I asked for his help. He has a little brother, Griffin, who is 2 years old. Kyle could help us make it fun for Griffin to believe. He has taken this assignment very seriously and I know that Griffin has many years of Santa fun ahead of him. Even though we do celebrate Jesus’ birthday and my kids do know the real reason for Christmas, the Santa story is also a family tradition that we will continue. Kyle has already graciously volunteered to be the one to eat the cookies that Griffin will set out for Santa this year.

I remember when I was eight years old, I found the wrapping paper in my mother’s closet that Santa had used to wrap my Christmas gifts. So, how did you discover the truth about Santa? Please don’t say that it was just now, reading this blog.

Merry Christmas,




13 thoughts on “The Truth about Santa (Spoiler alert)”

  1. I discovered there was no Santa by finding gifts that my parents had so carefully put away in the closet. If I hadn’t been snooping I might still believe in Santa today. 🙂 Even though I know there is no Santa, I do believe in the magic of the season; if only we could hold on all year. Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Feliz Navidad and so on…. to everybody!!

  2. Ho Ho Ho – did you know, there was once a living, breathing Santa? In fact, there is a statue of Saint Nicholas in the main square of Demre, Turkey, the home of the original Santa Clause. People there refer to the 4th century Christian bishop as “Noel Baba,” which means Father Christmas. Saint Nicholas, the man, died in Demre in 343 AD. But, thanks to terrific moms like Jenn, the story of a Santa Clause can continue for many more generations!!

  3. We are trying something new this year. We have a little elf that hides in a different place each night. The elf watches our 3 yr old to make sure he is being good and will report back to Santa. He enjoys looking for the elf and it’s working so far! If anything, Santa gives the kids an incentive to behave for a couple of months which the parents can really appreciate! It’s a shame it eventually comes to an end when their friends tell them it’s all baloney. Then the parents feel like doofs, but it’s worth it!

  4. you mean there’s really no Santa?

    we have “older” kids and we have “younger” kids. The older ones love helping create the magic of Christmas for the babies, and it is really fun to watch. The older kids do even better than I did when they were younger. I think it just makes it a lot more fun for everyone! (and I won’t lie…. the whole “Santa is watching” and “naughty list” works wonders with my 4 year old! )

  5. I love the wonder of Christmas and the magic of Santa but began having issues with it since becomming a parent. One I fear the “story” of Santa could be equated with the “story” of the birth of Jesus. Really aren’t they bothhard to beleive when they are looked at logically. The other is the naughty and nice list. I know there are so many children in this world that never get exactly what they wantedandcould possibly beleive they were not could enoughbreaks my heart. With all that said I would never deny my kids the magic of the season and hope they enjoy it to the fullest until someday they are stuck thinking about these heavy issues. I hope my oldest handles it as beautifully as yours.
    P.S. I had to tell my oldest she was on the naughty list and needed to work really hard to get off it. Thankfully her teacher shared a story of her being extremly compassionate to another student and she got off it 😉

  6. Jennifer – I remember looking through our family photo album one year thinking to myself, “Aw – there’s photos of when my parents put my tricycle with the plastic windshield and pull wagon.” Later – maybe six months later I though t, “Hey!? Santa Clause brought me that bicycle.”

  7. Merry Christmas to all of you and thanks for your comments. I think what really matters is that we find a way to make our own holiday traditions. There isn’t an exact right way. But, I don’t think there’s any harm in believing in a little Christmas magic 🙂

  8. Oh my gosh, I love the picture of Kyle in Santa’s lap! Both of their faces are priceless! I was one of the youngest children in my family – so also one of the last to know 🙂 I used to work out reconnaissance missions with my younger sister in which we would try to stay awake and catch Santa! It never worked. He was just too good!!! 🙂

  9. I never did the whole Santa thing with my kids. I tried to avoid mentioning him at all. My in-laws did a pretty good job of building up the myth though. My oldest figured it out pretty quickly. “Mom, you never mentioned Santa and he doesn’t bring presents to our house, only Grandma’s, so he’s fake right?” Even though I didn’t see the value in the literal Santa I felt like “fake” was a little harsh. So I explained about myths and how Santa is representative of a spirit of giving and while there’ s no literal man flying around the world and dropping toys off that some people like to pretend there is. She said “So, people LIE to their kids?” and I said “Well, I think they mean well….” She kept the secret though, even though we didn’t “do Santa” with her little sister, I didn’t feel like outright smashing her sense of wonder. She caught on a little quicker and asked me at age 4 if Santa was “real like Dad or real like Elmo” and I said “He’s like Elmo” and she said “Cool.” and at 7 even though she will tell you there is no actual literal Santa, she thinks pretending is worth it. She’s enamored with the idea. She loves to help other kids work through sticky plot points….she explained to me “Santa can control time, that’s how he gets around.” We may not have the traditional way of going about it, but our kids “believe” in Santa in a way that is fun for them, and they respect me for my choice…..even if it’s not the one the 7 year old will choose to make with her kids.

  10. Jennifer, I am the youngest of three children and I think I felt like if I didn’t believe, Santa would stop coming. I have heard my mom tell the story that I told everyone that “there was too a Santa because my parents couldn’t afford all the stuff he left at our house”. I was probably 9 myself, when I learned the truth. I was heartbroken! I think I cried for days. I had argued with my friends for a couple of years about Santa, finally when I was 9 I asked my mom (again) and she told me the truth. But, one thing is for sure, if you believe in the magic of Christmas, Santa is real and he still visits me today!

  11. Jennifer, I love the Doc Marten boot part! Santa continued to bring Santa gifts long after he should have with us. We opened Christmas gifts for each other on Christmas Eve and enjoyed Santa’s offerings on Christmas Day. Those were really the only ones that were a surprise to me. I had (have) a habit of unwrapping and rewrapping my gifts under the tree. Merry Christmas to your family. (By the way, I cried after that episode of Glee).

Comments are closed.