lying about Santa isn’t the end of the world and it won’t permanently warp your kid, shatter parent-child bonds, or create atheism in small minds. For heaven’s sake, settle down and have a drink …

… I’m a terrible mother. I let my son believe in Santa. Now he is heart broken because the girl next door clued him in to the fact that it was all a lie. A big fat elaborate lie. See, they don’t “do” Santa. Santa is evil and a tool of the Devil to lure blue blooded Americans away from the true meaning of Christmas. It’s a conspiracy, right up there with Halloween according to them.

So I lied to my son and let him believe in Santa. I better add another $100 to the monthly savings account because I’ll be paying for college and therapy now.

Sure, he’s a tad miffed and not on speaking terms with the girl next door but I have the fullest confidence he’ll get over it. It’s a huge leap to think that this one incident is going to shake his faith in me and his belief in Christ. He knows I am a loving mom and would not intentionally hurt or cause him harm and he’s too smart a kid to jump to the preposterous conclusion that if I was lying about Santa I must be lying about the birth of Christ too.

In fact I’m sure most of us held a childhood belief in Santa and, as adults, we’re not any less Catholic for it. You know what, Santa isn’t the only thing I’m not forthright about with my son. He is after all a small child, and as such isn’t privy to a lot of things dealing with the adult world. Children aren’t mini adults or our peers. Adult worries, themes and issues should be kept from them… silly fairy tales should not.

It’s an unspoken rule of etiquette, do not shatter a small child’s belief in Santa. They will grow up and learn the truth when they get older, until then allow them this one small innocence and fancy. Rotten is the Grinch that robs a child of Santa. Children have fantastical little minds capable of all sorts of whimsy. To draw the conclusion that a belief in Santa will be detrimental to their spiritual well being is, in my opinion, horse feathers.

If the singular bond of trust a parent creates with their child is based solely on the existence of Santa Claus and their little faith hinges on this one childhood tradition then you’ve got bigger problems than can be solved by reading this blog.

I mean, really.

updated: Oh, never mind. It’s been confirmed, I’m a horrible mother.

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  • Melanie

    : )

  • Sevensorrows Com

    We always told our 4 kids that Santa wasn’t real. We just figured, why lie to them? Isn’t Christmas important enough without Santa?

  • Katherine Stroud

    We don’t do Santa. But we have no objection to others who do choose to do Santa. I admit I haven’t quite figured out how to make sure my kids don’t “spill the beans” for those kids who do believe in Santa, but, really, why can’t everyone be confident enough in the choices they make for their own family not to condemn other families for doing things differently?

    • I wasn’t condemning those who dont do Santa, just trying to illustrate that those who do aren’t as bad as other make them out to be.

      • Katherine Stroud

        Okay. ” Adult worries, themes and issues should be kept from them… silly fairy tales should not.” and “Rotten is the Grinch that robs a child of Santa.” made me think otherwise. I’ve been told I’m “robbing my children of the magic of Christmas” just because we don’t do Santa. I’ve seen the argument both ways, I know great families that do and don’t do Santa and I find it a bit baffling why some people seem to get their panties in a twist over whether or not someone else’s child does or doesn’t do Santa.

        • Yes, I suppose I sounded a bit defensive. It’s the Southern Baptists next door. They really are irksome and treat me like I’m the Devil incarnate for letting my kid believe in Santa and go trick or treating. I apologize if I sounded harsh toward parents who don’t do Santa. Sometimes I just get the impression they think they are better parents then the Pro-Santa folks. I mean really, everyone knows I’m better bc we don;t own a TV.


          • Katherine Stroud

            I understand. I’ve seen zealots on both sides. I think I might have been one myself at one time (is it bad I don’t want to go back and look?). It seems to be part of a universal pattern of some parents on several subjects (homeschooling vs. public school, breastfeeding v. formula, Halloween, Santa, TV, and dare I even mention vaccinations?) where there are some parents who have discerned what is best for their family and seem so afraid that they could do something wrong, they feel they need to tell anyone who makes a different choice how wrong they are. And the fear of making the “wrong” parental choice can lead to parent bashing.
            It wouldn’t surprise me if some parents do believe they are “better parents” simply because of their Santa/Halloween/feeding/entertainment/medicinal/educational choices but (and it took me a while to figure this out) it is very freeing to realize that every family is different and what works for one might not work for another and that doesn’t mean any one is better than any other.
            I completely understand the defensiveness, and sometimes I wish we didn’t let our kids see TV, but then I remember, it simply wouldn’t work in our family (my dad is a film buff, my brother got his degree in film and wants to be a director, and my parents have a time share at Disney World) but that doesn’t mean it is a real blessing in other families.
            I read once that these “mommy wars” are really created and spurred by all the “expert” advice on raising children that suggest there is only one “right” way to raise kids and, of course, no one wants to have to defend how any “expert” is wrong, at least for their family.
            Sorry this is so long…..this is what happens when my kids don’t interrupt me enough. Which is so rare, I can’t help but take advantage. Hope your son can still enjoy the spirit of Santa this year even if he does eat the cookies. 🙂

      • As I mentioned on your Facebook page the problem is that lying is always a sin. But, it should be made clear that telling a Myth to children isn’t the same as telling a lie. I would argue, however, that telling the real stories about Santa (St. Nicholas) are far more profitable and are what the Myths are based upon anyway. Making the season more Catholic (as it ought to be) can only benefit the overall Catholic spirit of the family.

    • Babs

      We always told the real story of good St Nick while weaving the myth of Santa in there too. We also have taught them to be Santa to others through anonymous acts of kindness. The point is to teach children that grace is given invisibly but yields visible fruit. It is a lesson taught over time, and through many significant traditions. Just because the old guy has been secularized doesn’t mean he can’t have value.

  • My parents were old-school Portuguese Catholics who didn’t really do “Santa Claus.” Instead, we had “Menino Jesus” (baby/little boy Jesus). We still got presents, but Jesus brought them. Not the Coca-Cola-chugging elf from the North Pole.

  • tj.nelson

    I believe in santa – I think I pissed him off though – he hasn’t been at my house for years.

  • Bill

    This is the finest writing on this subject I’ve ever read. Thank you for writing this and publishing it here for me to read.

  • tcn

    Wait, what? Are you saying that Santa is NOT REAL? That’s it then, I’m not going to be Catholic anymore. 😉

  • Laura

    Thank you, the “I don’t LIE to my children” crowd is really annoying!

  • If Santa is the parents and I believe in parents than Santa is real. Santa=Parents. Parents=Real… therefore, Santa=Real. Basic math. 😀

  • Tony Layne

    Great discussion. I don’t have anything to contribute to it … I’m just surprised I didn’t realize before that “Santa” is an anagram for His Infernal Majesty. Maybe that’s why that “Coca-Cola-chugging elf” (thanks, CSG!) is taking over the whole dang holiday …!

  • Jeddrow

    Pro 26:28 A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.

    • See hear this rub…. it isn’t really “lying” because St. Nicholas was very much a very real live person. Now he is a very real living saint in heaven. Santa is a derived from the true story of St. Nicholas.

      FYI… Catholics don’t really do a lot of that one line scripture plucked from the Bible out of context to “prove” our point. The Bible is a beautiful whole and we liked to take scripture in the context it was written.

  • Daniel Barrett

    Of course I believe in Saint Nicholas – his existence is historically well attested, even if the particulars of accounts vary.

  • We stopped “doing Santa” when our youngest was 3 or 4 because of something that happened with my husband’s nephew. He learned that Santa wasn’t real and was telling everyone he knew. He was also hopping mad that he had been lied to. We decided to tell the tale of St. Nick and made sure to tell our children not to ruin the story for anyone else. It certainly took the pressure off in the gift buying/wrapping area. One set of gifts is easier. 🙂 Oh, we try to keep the gifts down to just 3 (from us), as well. After all, it is the celebration of Jesus’ birth and he only got 3 gifts (even if they were gold, frankincense and myrrh).

  • Letting someone believe in Santa isn’t lying. “Be good or Santa won’t bring you any presents.” is lying.

  • Tanya

    There’s at least two of these Grinches on my block that I know of. My older son just told me about one of his little encounters: “Bobby” says there’s no Santa, so I said, ‘oh really, then how do the presents get under the tree then, huh?’, and he said that his mom puts them there! *pauses for reflection* Well, that’s just ridiculous.
    I never corrected him. I just gave him a kiss and off he went. And I wondered really for the first time if I were “lying” to him with my silence, and if he’d be hurt when he finds out “the truth”, as they say.
    I grew up a non-Catholic so for me when I started to recognize that Santa’s handwriting and wrapping paper was the exact same as my mom’s, true, I was a little like, “whaaa?” but managed to shake it off pretty quickly b/c I remember thinking, “who cares, I still got stuff!” And that’s what it was all about for me then – stuff. Because I was raised Baptist (we didn’t go to church on Christmas b/c there were no services, nor did we celebrate Advent), I never had the sheer joy of knowing there was really a person named Nicholas and that he had a very cool story. Funny, I never questioned the song, “Jolly old St. Nicholoas…” I just figured it was another name for the “person” I knew as Santa. As Catholics, we have our historic faith to back us up so to speak. So honestly, I figure that even if my older kids do get a little hurt, they’ll understand the fun and magic of it all and they’ll forgive me- and hopefully won’t ruin it for their younger brother.

  • Katherine Stroud

    Re: “updated” – ROFL

  • kenneth

    We tend to view these things in a binary fashion. Either Santa literlly exists or he’s “all made up.” A better approach might be to help children eventually understand the metaphorical and mythological truth of Santa and the spirit of giving etc. Myth as a vehicle of deep truths is more powerful in it’s own way than literal history.

  • Ha! I am rolling my eyes so hard that they are about to pop out of my head. Look, when I was a small child I fervently believed in fairies. At various moments I believed I was Pipi Longstocking or Rainbow Brite and took to sleeping with my feet on my pillow, or trying to shoot rainbows out of my belt buckle. And I believed in Santa, who left me beautiful letters and always drank the scotch (heh) we put out for him. Eventually I realized that fairies weren’t real (although hey, I’m still willing to be surprised), and that Santa was my parents. “Lying” didn’t come into it at all, and oh yeah, we kept going to church and praying to God, and it didn’t take too many braincells to realize that cute stories about Santa are one thing, while going to church every Sunday and seriously conforming your life to Catholic teaching is another.