To Believe Or Not To Believe. That Depends. Will There Be Presents?

Antique Daddy and I made the decision early early on that we would present Santa Claus as someone who is not real, but as a character from a story, like Lightning McQueen or Builder Bob.  The reason behind our thinking is that Sean is a bright little boy and it was going to take entirely too much verbal tap dancing to keep up the ruse for very long and we are tapped out.

Nonetheless, there is just something about a 4-year-old that wants to, and mabye even needs to, believe in Santa Claus. And this year, I think he is trying to reconcile what he would like to be true versus what he knows is true.

The day after our visit to Santa, on our way to school, we had this conversation in the car:

Sean: Some of the kids at school think Santa is real, but we don’t believe in Santa Claus, do we mom?

AM:  No, but we do believe in the things that Santa Claus represents like love and…

Sean: And presents.

AM:  kindness and… 

Sean:  Presents.

AM:  looking after those in need and…

Sean: Presents.

AM: Yes Sean, we believe in presents.

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Dude, you’re a man in a red suit and my parents are making me do this.

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Oh! Did you say presents Mr. Claus!? I’ve been verrrry good!  What kind of cookies do you want to go with that milk?


54 thoughts on “To Believe Or Not To Believe. That Depends. Will There Be Presents?

  1. Gorgeous boy and spookily authentic-looking Santa Claus. We decided that when our kids’ need to know the truth exceeded their need to believe…we would tell them and all three were relatively young when that happened. However! We told them that the real idea behind Santa was the anonymous gift giver. That Santa/St. Nicholas was the spirit of–as you said–kindness and compassion and giving to OTHERS as based on a real human long ago. Our job, once the truth was known, was to BE the Santa for others until their need to know was paramount. Then they were brought into the fold and charged with the mission of being Santa for others. So far, the ruse has been successful.

  2. We didn’t make a big deal about Santa so it was an easy transistion…

    When the question about whether Santa was real came up… my answer always has been and always will be… I love to believe all the stories about Santa – it makes me feel good to think he might be real.

    And we taught our kids to participate in being the Santa by helping to shop ‘Santa’ gifts for the younger ones who still had not begun to question. They loved being in on the surprises.

    Great Pics! I want to know how it is these little ones know how to “roll their eyes”? Is it hardwired in their genes?

    My granddaughter does that at the most approiate times and it just makes me LOL!

  3. As far as we know, our 10 year old still believes. I appreciate the “ideas” from your other commenters. I wasn’t sure how to disclose the “truth” behind Santa when the need arose. Now, I know.

    Part of me is looking forward to enlisting Punkin as a fellow Santa-helper.

  4. What a great Santa.

    We have gone the “nice guy, lived a long time ago, people got carried away” route with Santa. Worked out OK with my son. My daughter, however, is all about fantasy and princesses and what ifs. She has decided that Santa is real. Period. We had this conversation in the car the other day.

    Missy: I wonder what time Santa will come to our house.

    Me: Well, you know what I think.

    Missy: What?

    Me: That Santa won’t be coming to our house because blah, blah, blah….

    Missy: I don’t want to hear that. Now, what time do you think Santa will be coming to our house?

    She is a determined little priss.

  5. That’s a gorgeous Santa!
    My kids are adamanent that they TOTALLY BELIEVE IN SANTA. Even though both of them have intellectually figured it out, neither of them are ready to give up the fantasy yet. Okely dokely, I always say.

  6. Oh, I love that second photo. And what a great Santa! He looks like the genuine article.

    We’ve decided to take a similar approach. Present the historically true story of Santa and then say that we like to pretend he is still real and talk about what he represents. And then have fun pretending! But emphasize that the magic of Christmas is in giving and that we get to be Santa every time we give or do something kind for others.

    But our son is only 18 months old, so our plan is not yet tested!

    Things are so easy before a child gets involved and messes up our tidy little plans, aren’t they?

  7. Love the picture! And I think if I had a child, I’d do the same thing you and AD are doing. It’s what I *wish* my brother and SIL would do for my nephew, but unfortunately, they’re at odds over the whole thing…she grew up believing in the whole shebang, and he didn’t. I think she’s going to win this one. :-/

  8. I did the whole Santa thing when my kids were little. I never really imagined not doing it. As they got a bit older, they realized on their own that he wasn’t real. It was never a huge ordeal.

    Love the first pic, btw!

  9. Those photos are classic.

    And to weigh in on the unscientific poll, we are doing the same thing as you, AM. We just say Santa is a fun story, but about as real as Dora. We’re also starting to throw in a little historical St. Nicholas info now that they are old enough to understand that sort of thing.

    Incidentally, I grew up with this same system of belief. It’s always a little startling to me to see the lengths Santa-believing families will go to in order to keep the fable alive.

  10. Yikes, a Santa with genuine white hair and a real beard. Truly astounding.

    Merry Christmas to you, AD and Sean.

  11. Don’t let anybody tease you about “Santa Clause.” What’s a whole lot funnier than that is the fact that the original “Sinterklaas” has morphed into SANTA Claus. I don’t know, maybe it’s being a Spanish teacher, but “Santa” means “female saint.” So where does that leave us? –Somebody with a whole lot of beard to explain, LOL.

    Sean’s got the right attitude. Something intangible like faith needs a few “tangibles” to help it along.

  12. I’ll tell you what it means Ortiz – what I suspected all along – that it’s actually Mrs. Claus that does all the work while Santa sits at home with the remote.

  13. Great pictures! Our 5 year old daughter wanted to know “The Truth” this year. So I told her. We walked into Wal Mart & there sat Santa. Santa happens to be my brother this year. She stood there & stared at him. He was talking to other children at the time. He seen her & said “Hi Shelb!”. She looked him. Looked me. Then she grinned & yelled at the top of her lungs, “HI UNCLE GERALD!”.

  14. Those pictures are hilarious!

    One of my kids really seemed to want to believe in Santa. So he did believe Santa was real. And he knew that he’s not real. In a child’s agile mind,I guess, the two don’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive. As long as there are presents.

  15. That is really cute! What a smart little guy. 🙂

    Our oldest (10) wants to believe in Santa so badly. Maybe he’s afraid presents won’t come if he stops believing. LOL!

  16. Hee hee, I love the picture. I’ve been thinking of letting my six year old in on the news. I sort of wish I’d handled it the way you did. She’s always been afraid of him, and now that she is finally getting over the fear, she is going to be really disappointed when the truth comes out. She’s the type who will be very upset. I’m regretting the choice we made…

  17. Love the first pix. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a similar one of AM some where in a photo book…I’m just saying…
    Although for awhile she did get a bit overconcerned about the whole “if he’s watching, then did he just see me going to the bathroom?” She’s a smart one. She immediately figured out that the “Santas” we see are not all the same; “Santa at school had different skin than the Santa at the mall.” I told her the same thing my folks told me which was that Santa has lots of helpers like his Elfs who help him out with all this stuff. She thought about this for a second and then declared, “I think both Santas know each other and one makes the toys while the other goes to the mall & stuff. I think they’re good friends.” My husband and I looked at each other in disbelief and told her she’s smart. She beamed.
    When she figures it out (and I have no doubt she’ll get it sooner than later) I’ll tell her about the “real” Santa Claus and how everyone loved him and what he did so much that we all continue to do it. She’ll be thrilled to be in with the “big kids” when it happens, so no worries.

  18. PERFECT Santa picture!

    I’m not sure how I want to present Santa to Tree Faerie yet, but your method is one of the options I’ve been considering.

  19. That first one especially is award-winning! Seriously, you should submit that to some sort of contest. It is PRECIOUS!!!!

  20. Love those pictures! We love that Santa, too. He almost makes me believe (and I never did as a child).

    Much to my surprise, my boys still believe in Santa. They are very bright, but I think they want to believe, therefore they do. Or something like that.

  21. Those pictures are wonderful! The expression on Sean’s face in the first one is just too funny! It made me laugh out loud. Thanks for sharing!

  22. Those pics and captions made me laugh aloud – and that guy is an AWESOME Santa!

    I remember mom telling me about the historical St. Nicholas, and telling me his spirit lives on and enters people at Christmastime, making them want to be generous and sometimes even dress as Santa and all that. Sounded good to me! When my little one catches on, think I’ll tell her the same.

  23. Well, I have a 10 yr old and 12 yr old and they have asked questions because of children at school (children that frustrate me). I respect your decision to tell your child about Santa, but I hope you respect the other parents’ that allow their children to believe in the magic of Christmas by asking your child not to spoil it for the other kids. I tell my children they have to believe in Santa or he will not come to our house and I seriously mean that.

  24. Jane, I teach Sean to be respectful of all people and their views, whether the matter is faith or Santa. I tell him that not all people believe as we do and that’s okay, but it doesn’t change what we believe. That way I don’t have to worry so much about the world corrupting what we teach and what we stand for. I think that’s what all parent’s should do.

  25. My daughter has had the “we keep what we believe about Santa to ourselves” speech every year since kindergarten when her teacher called to let me know she was ruining Christmas for everyone. She did inform my MIL there is no such thing as the Easter Bunny though. Her Nori held firm to her belief and my daughter came to me mortified “Mom…Nori still believes in the Easter Bunny.” We would have allowed her to believe but she refused. Adorable pic’s!!

  26. Ooooo, you’re gettin’ nothing but coal in your stocking! Don’t read my blog post today Missy Humbug Pants. You’ll think I’m a big weirdo. 😉

  27. My parents took the same approach with me on Santa and it worked out well so have hope, he’ll get the hang of thinking about more than just presents in time. And I love that first picture – it’s just priceless.

  28. We have a Russian retablo of St. Nicholas, a real bishop in (now) Turkey in the 3rd century who is the real basis of Santa Claus traditions today both here and abroad. The meaning of gifts comes from his example and the three kings. Teaching history is part of our cultural traditions. I hang on to Santa. He’s up with my Santos here in Santa Fe at Christmas time.

    See also my post on this Santa

    Ho Ho Ho (historical) Cheers.

  29. That is great!

    We taught our kids the same as you did. One day when they saw a Santa they asked who it really was and my husband told them it was just a guy named Bob dressed up in a Santa suit. From then on whenever they saw a Santa they would loudly proclaim- there’s BOB!
    (The grandparents who thought we were amiss in our “not doing the Santa thing”, just loved this- NOT.)

  30. OH. MY. GOSH. That picture is not only commercial-worthy, I think it deserves consideration for it’s own Christmas movie. Just priceless.

    And oh by gosh by golly, with a Santa like that, it would be pretty hard for even ME to not believe in him!

    Hope your holidays were wonderful, and the New Year brings you many blessings of joy and happiness.

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