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December 26, 2011

lying to the kids about santa

The Santa issue can be tough for parents. The dilemma is often presented as two choices: remove some of the fun and magic of childhood or possibly foster confusion and distrust in important spiritual matters. 

I doubt that believing in Santa as a child will automatically result in growing up into a God hater. Kids like to pretend. They mix things up all the time. Two of my boys attend Sunday school every week and still confuse Mary the mother of Jesus with Queen Galadriel from Lord of the Rings. I'm not afraid of them denouncing their faith when they find out that Queen Galadriel is not real.

But I am afraid of a few things:

Blowing the Santa issue out of proportion. I'm cool with Santa. Really, I have no problem with the guy, up to a point where fun turns into fiasco. I'm just not up for the effort of two parents keeping every word and deed straight when being cross examined times four (Claire can't talk yet). Have you tried planning stealth shopping trips and sneaking boxes and bags into the bedroom closet past 10 little eyes?

On the other hand, trying to steer completely clear of Santa or trash talking him for stealing the spotlight from Jesus requires just as much effort and explaining. I'm not up for that either. Kids are perceptive to see that slinging mud at others gets your own hands dirty. Besides, you can't run from Santa. Not in December. Which leads to my second fear.


I'm sorry, but I feel that actively promoting the whole Santa thing does come at a cost. Children and adults alike hold great potential for distraction from reflective waiting and celebration of God with us.

There were certainly presents under our tree and wild squeaks of excitement on Christmas morning. But we try to moderate it and steer clear of the big hype Santa focus that moves us toward the fatigued and frantic, perspective lacking cultural event that is opposite of anything remotely related to Jesus. By noon the typically cooperative and content children are suddenly fighting and asking for more, with the parents saying in unison, "I'm glad it's almost over."

Maybe other parents can pull off Santa in a more balanced and meaningful fashion. But this has been our experience. And it sickens us.

A few years back we decided to let it go. When a friend or relative wants to talk to the kids about Santa, they have all dealt just fine. But me? I can't keep track of who believes what at the moment and how they might best be approached. And so I've came up with the perfect solution.

As for me and my house, we will lie about Santa. 

No, really. When the issue arises, I play along fast and direct by speaking big fat lies, my face clearly speaking to each child what they need to hear.

Luke: So when do we open presents from Santa?

Me (With all eyes on, fairly sure that Luke doesn't believe, Owen and Ben probably do not, and Maggie really could care less at this point):

[Inhale deep, push out belly, retract head for double chin effect, put on old face and voice.]

"Well, I'll have to check my list twice, and run it past the chief elf, so that when all the children wake up on Christmas morning...hey, wait a minute, have youuu been a good boy this year?"

Luke: (smiles) Oh yes!

Me: Well then, what do YOU want for Christmas, little boyyyyyy?

And four children proceed to roll with laughter, squirm for their place in line to see Santa. I lift and place Luke across my lap, interview him in exaggerated tones. His visit culminates in getting plopped off the leg and heel shoved in the back, Christmas Story style, with Santa snickering "Ho. Ho....HO!"

The next child takes their place, and the fun continues, on and on squared, until Santa has finally had enough and must declare "Last child of the evening, Santa must catch the Polar Express to get back home for dinner." Each child gets what they need from their dad, along with affirmation on everything they know and need to know regarding Santa.

Speaking big fat lies about Santa keeps the magic and the sanity. Keeps the trust, the focus, and most certainly the fun.

ho     HO      HO 

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