If you choose to tell your children the truth about Santa Claus, be prepared to deal with the fallout! Several years ago, when our oldest daughter Nova was about four, and very verbal, we went out to eat a couple of weeks before Christmas. Our very peppy waiter crouched down at her eye level and excitedly asked her, “So sweetie, what is Santa bringing YOU for Christmas?!?”
With a perfectly deadpan expression, our little angel turned to him and said, “Santa is DEAD.”
The poor man, he looked as though she had hit him over the head with a frying pan. He gabbled something or other and looked at us as though we were devils incarnate.
Of course, she didn’t mean it quite the way it came out. Early on in our marriage, my husband laid down a law: No Santa! He felt strongly that this was, in essence, lying to our children. I wanted to honor his wishes but at the same time be sensitive to my children’s spirit and the very real appeal of Santa, so after much consideration I decided the best answer was, simply, the truth! I discovered later that other people have chosen this same path. Each year, early in December, we tell our children who St. Nicholas really was (and we usually give them their stockings at the same time). Nicholas was a real man born in what is now Turkey. He was a bishop in the Christian church and was martyred on December 6, AD 383, a day remembered as St. Nicholas’ Day. His generosity and loving spirit were so cherished that his story grew into the charming legend of Santa Claus. (The name is taken from the Dutch, who call him Sanct Herr Klaus; Klaus is a nickname for Nicholas, Sanct is Saint, and Herr means Mister.)
However, I have my doubts that explaining the true story of Santa Claus would have changed our waiter’s mind that we were incontrovertably Very Bad Parents. 🙂