I Won’t Lie to My Kids About Santa Claus
We were driving to see the new Arthur Christmas (which is wonderful) when I heard it from the back seat: “Daddy, is Santa Claus real?” Yikes!
It is an inevitable question from a seven-year-old and one I have dealt with before. You see I am a Déjà Vu Dad, meaning I have two sets of children separated by two decades. There are a lot of us these days. Stacia is 28, and Jonathan is 27. David is five and Michael, the one asking the question, is seven.
So I have dealt with the question twice before, and every time it has come in a different form and in a different way, but it has always been the same age. Stacia asked me when she was seven and I was putting her to bed at night. A child at school had made fun of her for believing. Two years later when he turned seven, Jonathan told me on Christmas Eve that he knew Santa wasn’t real, but waited for conformation with the same face I was seeing in the rearview mirror from Michael and David. David seemed especially troubled by what he might hear.
However, I have a strict Santa policy. I will not lie to my children. Once you are caught in a lie, no matter how sweet and innocent, you not only lose trust but give them permission to lie to you. And that is why I told Michael and David what I told my older kids, “Yes. Santa is real.”
I tell my children about Saint Nicholas who lived in the country we now call Turkey. “Is that why we have turkey on Christmas?” Michael asked. I smiled. “I don’t think so, but good question.” I continued with the story that Saint Nicholas was a great man who gave toys to children to celebrate the birth of Christ. His legend spread through Europe and around the world. “What you feel every year that makes you happy, that brings people together and that inspires us to give to each other is the spirit of Saint Nick. They also call him Santa Claus, and that spirit is very real. How can anyone deny it? We see and feel it every year.”
I looked into the rearview mirror as the two boys took it in. David finally burst out with, “See, I told ya.”
I was waiting for questions about the sleigh, the reindeer, the elves and the chimney, but I was not at all ready for the follow-up: “Is the Easter Bunny real?” (Michael is going to make a great interviewer one day.)
I do not have a strict Easter Bunny policy. I hate the story of the Easter Bunny. I don’t get it at all or what it has to do with the resurrection of Christ. A giant bunny delivering eggs? Was that a drug-induced fantasy?
So I said, “I don’t know about that one buddy. I mean, have you ever seen a rabbit that big?” Michael thought about it and said “no.” I continued. “And even if there was a bunny that big, how could he hold the basket? And where does he get all of those eggs? Bunnies don’t lay eggs.”
I could see Michael and David both thinking about it. I went for the closer. “And in all those years of a giant bunny breaking into homes with a basket, how come no one ever reported him to police? He’s lucky he doesn’t get shot.” I quickly looked for their reaction. All I needed was for them to break into tears and tell my wife later that “Dad said someone is going to shoot the Easter Bunny.” I held my breath. They both laughed. Whew.
And then I said, “But they are fun stories to believe in aren’t they?” Both kids answered with an enthusiastic yes. Double whew.
The Tooth Fairy is playing on cable this month. I am going to make certain they do not see it because who knows what I’ll say.