My oldest son is only two and can barely talk, but my husband and I have already been discussing how we’re going to handle Old St. Nick. As luck would have it, we were both raised in religious households. Now that we have kids of our own, we both agree that it was pretty annoying for our parents to kick the concept of Santa Claus in the balls just because Jesus is the reason for the season.
I’m not trying to get into a religious debate, and I still believe in God—outside of strict religious parameters. The point is that I want my kids to experience the magic of Christmas, and I think the fun of believing in Santa is a big part of it.
So, the good news is that my husband and I both agree that Father Christmas is on the table. But we’ve all heard horror stories about young kids being told the truth about Santa in a not-so-gentle fashion—whether from a well-meaning relative, or a rude kid at school, or accidentally overhearing Mom and Dad talking about putting “Santa’s” gifts under the Christmas tree.
To prepare myself for the holiday heartbreak that is sure to ensue, I need to know how this all goes down. Is there an age where you are supposed to sit your kids down and tell them the truth about Santa, kind of like the birds and the bees talk? Or are you supposed to let them find out naturally from other kids at school? Or do they figure it all out by themselves and look at you like you’re a total moron when you try to tell them Santa isn’t real?
The only story I have as a reference point is some poor kid in my husband’s 5th grade class that was a diehard Santa believer, even after all the other kids had long ago discovered the truth. According to my husband, his friend would bring up Santa in conversation, insisting that he’d bring him such-and-such cool toy at Christmas, like he always did. My husband was nice enough to smile, nod, and play along, even though on the inside he was like, “Let it go, man.”
I’m absolutely going to encourage my kids’ belief in Santa—maybe as a way to vicariously live through them since I didn’t get the “Santa magic” in my own childhood—but I need to know where and how it ends. I need to prepare myself for some Christmas drama so I know what to expect when shit hits the fan in a few years.
(photo: Getty Images)