In the 1890s, a little girl named Virginia wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Sun, saying that her friends told her Santa Claus didn’t exist and seeking reassurance from the newspaper because her daddy told her that if it was in the Sun, then it was true. The editorial board famously responded with a letter titled, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
The response goes on to say that the world would be a dreary place and the light of childhood would be extinguished if Santa didn’t exist. But I don’t think this is true. I sure hope not since we plan on telling Noah from the beginning that Santa is not real.
I know this is probably not a popular way to go, but it’s what Bobby and I have decided. Here’s our reasoning:
- We don’t want to lie to our kid. That’s putting it bluntly, of course, and I’m not accusing anyone of hurting their child by telling them Santa exists. For us, it has potential to create a trust issue when Noah finds out — because he will find out, just like every other kid does — Santa isn’t really real. If we are telling him in every other instance that he can trust us and that we won’t lie to him, why should this one be different?
- We don’t want to run the risk that Christmas becomes all about the gifts. The Santa myth puts so much emphasis on presents, and while we still plan to give gifts at Christmas, it’s just not going to be the main event. Looking back, I know I missed the point as a kid, and I want to try to help Noah understand that spending quality time with family and helping others are much bigger parts of Christmas than the gifts.
- I wouldn’t say religious reasons have much to do with the decision, but we are Christians and will share our beliefs with Noah as he grows up. We don’t ever want him to think God is like Santa: that he doesn’t exist, or if he does, he only gives you stuff when you are “good enough.”
- Not all parents use “Santa” to manipulate their kids into behaving better, but many do. We don’t want to be tempted to do that, because manipulation is manipulation, no matter how good the intentions are.
We’ve definitely put some thought into this decision, and I feel certain it’s the right one for our family. I think we will absolutely tell Noah the story of Santa Claus, but we just won’t tell him Santa brings him presents, comes down the chimney, eats cookies that he leaves for him or that Santa is “watching him.”
I don’t think he’ll be missing out on much because we will begin our own traditions, and he will have happy Christmases built on the values that we’ve chosen for our family.
If your family has chosen not to “do” Santa Claus, how has it gone for you? I’d love to hear from some folks who have older kids!