Santa Claus is part of the magic of Christmas for me. I don’t think he has to take away from the Christ-centered aspect of the holiday, and in fact, I think he can add to children’s understanding of Jesus Christ and the ultimate gift our Heavenly Father gave to us.
I have always said I would be honest in my answers when my children ask me questions, and so, when my oldest daughter asked me about the verity of the Tooth Fairy, I gave it to her straight. I was relieved when she added that Santa must still be real, though, because “there is no way that you and Dad would ever buy me all the stuff he does!” However, just the fact that she added that made me realize that for a second, she faltered in her belief of Santa Claus. Which is fine. Eventually, a kid has to grow up and know that the man in the red suit isn’t really the one bringing all the gifts.
I don’t really remember how or when I found out about Santa. I feel like I moved seamlessly from staying up as late as I could with my brothers in the hopes of perhaps hearing sleigh-bells in the sky to helping my mother fill stockings. I wasn’t traumatized. My faith wasn’t shaken. I understood that Santa is part of childhood, part of the magic and wonder of the season. And I have absolutely loved playing Santa for my own daughters…to find out exactly what is at the top of their list and doing all I can to get it for them (fortunately, it’s never been anything too crazy!).
But my oldest is 10 now. While she still believes, I think this may be the last year she does. And when she questions it, I will tell the truth, just like I told my 5-year-old the truth when she asked me if she actually sat on the real Santa’s lap the other day. I will also give her this letter (which I don’t take credit for at all, but I did alter here and there to suit our family and beliefs):
I know you’re going through a time right now when you’re not sure if I am real or not. I know most of your friends no longer believe in me. But I know you want to believe for yourself, and for those two little sisters you’ve got. Well, I hope I can help work out some of the confusion you might have.
I am Santa. I may not exist like the story goes. I am not a single man who makes millions of toys each year, and gives them all out in one long night on a sled pulled by magical reindeer. I am not in thousands of malls and downtown celebrations all at once throughout the season. But, make no mistake, I am real.
I am as real as the love in your heart. It is love that has perpetuated my story all these many centuries. I am as true as the spirit in your soul. Santa’s spirit is the giving spirit of all of those who care for others. My magic is the miracle of reaching out to someone else and bringing joy to their hearts.
I do not see every thing you do. But someone does. I do not know when you’re not asleep at night. But my friend, I hate to break it to you, your mom and dad do. I do not know if you’ve been bad or good, but you know. So for goodness sake, be good to yourself and others. It shows. And how you treat yourself and others is so important. I will not reward you for good, but your mom and dad will. And you’ll soon find that internal reward of your own conscience. You know, that feeling you get when you’ve made someone else feel better?
The real gift of Christmas, as you well know, is the gift of Jesus Christ. Without his love, spirit and miracles, I would not exist at all. It is time now for you to realize the magic of Christmas and Santa is nothing more than the miracle and gift from God. This is the message I want you to carry with you.
You can teach your sisters about God’s love through me. Showing them kindness and love throughout the year, and helping them find the magic in Christmas is how you keep me real. Teaching them and others, by example, about Jesus Christ’s love for each one of us, and demonstrating kindness and giving to all in need will be how you share the spirit of Santa.
You’ll always find gifts under the tree from me as long as you believe in what I represent. You’ll always see my magic and feel my spirit at Christmas time when you participate in the miracle of selflessness and giving. And may you know the blessings and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ now, and forever.
With lots of love and Christmas magic,