How To Tell Kids There is No Santa
Christmas Day is almost here. The tree is up and the house is decorated beautifully. The kitchen is filled with all kinds of goodies, cakes, and cookies. Maybe your shopping is done; maybe you put it off until the last minute. The hiding places in the house are stuffed with toys and other surprises waiting to be wrapped in shiny red paper and sparkling bows.
We love those moments with our children: taking the kids to see Santa at the department store, reminding them to be nice not naughty, singing songs about how Santa "knows if you've been bad or good," putting out cookies and milk for Santa and veggies for reindeer, and telling them to go to bed early on Christmas Eve so Santa can come.
These are cherished moments for sure but, sooner or later, some "Grinch" is going to spill the beans that there is no Santa; or, the children will be smart enough to figure it out on their own.
What to do? What to do?
Should you tell your child there is no Santa?
How will they handle it?
Is the innocence over when they know there is no Santa?
Relax. Keep reading. All will be well.
My Conversation about Santa with My Son
When my son was 7 years old, he came to me; and the conversation went like this:
Tony: Mom, there isn’t an Easter Bunny is there?
Mom: Why do you ask?
Tony: Because I can’t imagine that a rabbit can do what a human can do. A 6-foot tall rabbit bringing candy to every kid’s house? C’mon. (He always was analytical.)
Mom: (laughing) Okay...You’re right Tony. It’s just a fun story to tell. There is no Easter Bunny.
Tony: Thanks for being honest, Mom. (Tony left Mom’s room; and Mom went back to her reading. Within 30 seconds, Tony came tearing down the hallway and stormed into Mom’s room)
Mom: What Tony?
Tony: Does that mean there is NO SANTA??? (Mom could tell he was furious).
Mom: Oh boy…sit down. Let me tell you the story about St. Nicholas…(Mom tells the story). So what we do is we continue the tradition of giving to others and celebrating the birth of Christ, which is the true meaning and spirit of Christmas.
Tony: Well thank God…at least this story is based on an actual person. What a relief!
When Santa Visited Our Home One Christmas Morning.
Basilica di San Nicola
The Real Santa
Saint Nicholas, who lived during the 3rd Century in Greece, was born into a wealthy family and became a monk. A devout Christian, Nicholas gave his entire inheritance to the poor and needy. Eventually, he was made the Bishop of Myra. Because of his great generosity, love for children, and concern for sailors and ships, he became famous throughout Europe. Later, he was imprisoned by the Roman Emperor Diocletian.
There are numerous stories about miracles that occurred in his presence including:
- During a sea voyage, a great storm threatened to wreck the ship. As the sailors were terrified, Nicholas prayed during the storm and, suddenly, the wind and waves became calm and the boat was saved.
- Nicholas saved his people from a famine.
- 3 theological students were robbed and murdered on their way to Athens. The Bishop traveled the same route, dreamed of the crime, and, when he prayed, the three students were restored to life.
The Bishop was so greatly loved and revered that "thousands of churches were named for him, including 300 in Belgium, 34 in Rome, 23 in the Netherlands and more than 400 in England." He continues "to be venerated by Catholics and Orthodox and honored by Protestants." (Saint Nicholas Center).
The anniversary of his death was December 6, which was designated as Saint Nicholas Day (December 19 on the Julian Calendar). "In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Saint Nicholas' memory is celebrated on almost every Thursday of the year." (Catholic Online).
Prayer in Honor of St. Nicholas - Feast Day December 6
"We thank you for good Saint Nicholas who was known for his love and care for children.
Through his intercession we ask you to help us always to take care of children, to protect and guide them, and to keep them safe. Help us to be open to all that children can teach us about pure joy and unconditional love. May we in turn help our children to grow into the beautiful persons that you created them to be. Keep us mindful of the needs of others and to reach out with love and generosity as Saint Nicholas did. We rejoice in your servant Nicholas and pray that we too may follow you with singleness of heart and mind. Amen."
St. Nicholas - According to the Catholic Faith
- St. Nicholas -Catholic Online
Large searchable database of information on Catholic saints. Saints, Catholic Saints. Thousands of Catholic Saints with biographical data, prayers, images, etc.
Learn more about the history of Santa.
- Santa Claus
Find out more about the history of Santa Claus, including videos, interesting articles, pictures, historical features and more. Get all the facts on HISTORY.com
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When should you tell your child there is no Santa?
The True Meaning of Christmas
Still, the most important thing to remember is that Christmas is not about Santa. Christmas is about the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Several scriptures in the Christian Bible explain the birth of the Messiah: Matthew 1:18-25; Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 1:26-38; and Luke 2:1-20.
According to the biblical account, during the time of Caesar Augustus, Joseph with his betrothed, Mary, traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register for the census. Mary, a virgin, was expecting a child. While in Bethlehem, the baby, a son, was born. Mary wrapped him in swaddling clothes and placed him in a manger because there was no room for them at the inn.
An angel appeared to shepherds nearby and said:
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
"Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”(Luke 2:1-20, NIV)
Jesus performed numerous miracles during His lifetime and left humankind with two commandments to follow:
- “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind"; and
- "Love your neighbor as yourself."
(Matthew 22:37-40, NIV)
Christmas is not about getting presents; Christmas is about what we can give to others. Christmas is the day we celebrate His birth, His life, His message, and His love.
Linus explains the true meaning of Christmas.
Let your child believe in Santa as long as possible.
In the meantime, there is nothing wrong with letting your child believe in the magic of Christmas and Santa. After all, the life of Saint Nicholas is an example of the spirit of Christianity. In fact, "Santa" in Spanish means "Saint." Use Spanish to explain Christmas in this way: Christ Mas. "Mas" means "more" in Spanish. We could all use "more Christ" not only during the holidays but as part of our daily life.
Even when my kids were adults, they still got one package with a tag that said "Love, Santa." I wouldn't put any presents under the tree until they went to bed.
They laughed at me every time: "Mom, we're grown...we know there's no Santa."
My response: "Well, if you don't believe, you get nothing...hahahha."
Their response: "WE BELIEVE!"
And, I have to admit...I still believe and carry the spirit within me.
As for all of you, Merry Christmas; and may the new year bring you all many blessings. Keep the faith and believe in the magic of the season.
Special thanks to Rebecca W. for inspiring this hub.
Catholic Online. "St. Nicholas." http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=371. Access date: December 20, 2014.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011
Loyola Press - A Jesuit Ministry. "Prayer in honor of Saint Nicholas." http://www.loyolapress.com/prayer-and-poster-of-saint-nicholas.htm. Access date: December 20, 2014.
Saint Nicholas Center. "Who is Saint Nicholas?" https://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/. Access date: December 20, 2014.
Schulz, Charles M. "A Charlie Brown Christmas." 1965.
By Liza Lugo, J.D.
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