“Mom, is Santa real?”.

Imagine your child coming home in tears.
When you ask what’s wrong, they look at you and say, “Is there a Santa?”.
“Is it true? Do you and Dad bring the toys?”.

What would you do?

For many parents this question poses serious problems.
Is it right to lie when you have been asked a direct question?
Is your child old enough to know the truth?
Will they be laughed at for believing?

When I was a young mother to three small children, I thought the Santa years would last forever.
I really enjoyed the innocence and magic of it all.photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/europedistrict/8249928404/">USACE Europe District</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>
I rarely thought about the day it would all end but whenever I did I imagined that if asked I would tell my children the truth.

Then one year a friend of mine died of breast cancer.
She died in November when her youngest of three children was just eleven. As Christmas approached we wondered about her still believing.
Her aunt and I thought in our infinite wisdom that if she asked “Is there a Santa?”, she should be told the truth.
After all she had been through we did not want her to be laughed at at school, or in the New Year, when she went back to school.

I can still remember her fathers reaction when we voiced our opinion.
“No one will be telling her anything. She lost her mother this year, I’ll be damned if she loses feckin Christmas too”.
As it turned out she did not get laughed at and in fact the following Christmas enjoyed continuing the magic, even though we knew she knew the truth.

Then the big question came to my own front door.

My eldest was aged eight when one beautiful May evening (yes May evening!) she stops me just as I am leaving to go for a walk with a friend.
“Mom, she says, I do not think there is any Santa”.

I was gobsmacked. Where had this come from?
She continued, “I have looked up encyclopedias and none of it makes sense. How can he travel around the world and no one sees him?“.

I paused for a while to let this sink in. Inside I was panicking.
What would I say? Why was she saying this?
Luckily years of ducking and diving in life taught me to think quickly. My daughter is a Catholic and was getting close to her first communion. This meant a lot of religious instruction in school. I had an idea.

So I said “Do you believe in God?”.
She was a bit puzzled by the question but answered “Yes”.
I continued, “Why?, have you seen him? How do you know he exists?”
Then I asked her about our friend who had died. “Where do you think she is?”, I asked.
“In heaven” she said.
“Really? I asked, Did she tell you? Have you seen her there, or any pictures of it?
“No, she replied, and seemed a little bit less sure of herself. “But Mom, I still think it’s impossible for him to deliver all those presents in one night”.
“It’s magic darling”, I said, “there is no way of explaining it”.

She looked completely unimpressed.
“Okay, I said, Who made the world?”.
“You know who, she replied, God did”.
“Ye you’re right, I said, Zap! There’s the sky. Zap! There’s the earth, and the trees and the sea!”. “How ridiculous does all that sound? I asked, How did he do it?”.
She was quiet for a while and then said “I suppose it was magic”.
“Exactly, I said, so magic does exist darling We just have to believe.

She was suitably quiet after that and I was happy that she had enough doubt to begin believing once more.
Thankfully we did get quite a few more Christmases out of her.

My youngest is now coming up to that age of 11/12. She is in a class where I know some photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sully_aka__wstera2/5279154343/">wstera2</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>believe and others do not. For now she really is in the believing category but what if next week she looks me in the eye and asks, “Mum, Is there a Santa?”

For me the answer is simple.
I will look her straight back in the eye and with a lifetime of learning how to lie, I will without hesitation say “Of course there is”.
And that will be that.

Because she is not the only one who needs some magic this Christmas.

photo credit: USACE Europe District via photopin cc
photo credit: wstera2 via photopin cc


17 thoughts on ““Mom, is Santa real?”.

  1. Nice. My parents fessed when my sister and I were 7 and 8. We were a little sad, but we still received gifts from Santa that my parents swore they didn’t buy.

  2. Very good. I will save this info for when I need it which is a long time away hopefully..
    My house is magical this year. We have elf on a shelf watching us all. The twins were too young to grasp father Christmas last year, but this year is they’re consumed by it all. Working on a post about that..

    1. That will be a lovely read. My friends son is 18 and he has autism. Last year he kept pulling the curtain and was afraid Santa would see his sisters behaviour and bring them nothing! Enjoy your first of many Christmases.

  3. My children and I still laugh about this whole situation. My oldest figured it all out at age ten, but kept quiet until after Christmas. Then for a few years she enjoyed being in on the fun for her brothers. But I will never forget when one of my sons was heard talking to his younger brother on December, when they were aged 7 and 9. “Tyler says that parents really bring all the presents, not Santa.” He paused, and my heart almost stopped beating. “But I know there’s no way Dad would EVER spend that much money on toys!”
    They believed for another two years!

    1. Yes I’m a notorious mean mom, so when they see the amount they get at Christmas they too were always convinced it could not possibly be us. That Santa magic is one of the greatest parts of Christmas.

  4. I remember saying to my mum that I didn’t believe around the same age. And she looked at me and said, ‘Well, I do’. I was gobsmacked and felt sure someone had steered me wrong! I got then that magic is what we believe in. And if you want to believe and continue to do so the magic remains.
    You’re right to keep hold of the magic, Tric. We all need it. x

    1. Thanks. I love it. My eldest is fantastic at playing along. At 22 she has no intention of having a Christmas without the magic of Santa.
      I will, like your mum, keep it going. I believe!

  5. I had this conversation with my Tween a couple of years ago. My reply to her was “Do you think he is real”? She said she wasn’t sure so I asked “Do you want to believe in him”? When she replied ‘yes’ then I said “That is your answer”. Now she tells us openly that she knows it is us but the she is still putting her sack out. We don’t mind a bit 🙂

    1. It is great that she is able to enjoy Christmas and it’s magic. My brother commented earlier that he still believes…. he’s in his forties! 🙂

  6. My kids started hounding me about it at the age of 7. I always say which is more fun to believe when they ask. Then I remind them that if they don’t believe, he won’t bring them a present. This allows me to pretend they still believe! 🙂

    1. We all need the magic. Christmas would definitely be different without it. This is my 19th year of Santa, if you count the beginning as when my eldest was three.

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